I once had an employee who was an extreme challenge, in addition to being “protected” by one of the nations largest unions. And a union that didn’t recognize performance. Not an ideal scenario as my responsibility at the time was almost solely focused on performance and producing a result for my bosses, the organization, and the shareholders.
This particular situation could have been approached in many different ways including; just writing that individual off as a loss and cost to the operation in perpetuity and move on, try to over come them by sheer force by trying to get them to quit or make enough mistakes to be fired and it stick, OR determining what makes them tick and what they need. So that’s exactly what I did. I asked them exactly what they felt they needed and wanted and how I could help them with that and how that looked on a daily basis while clearly communicating what the expectations where and precisely what was expected of them on a daily basis. These expectation where inline with the organizations goals and policies as well as my own yet we eventually figured out a way to move forward. And of course there was a little trial and error and rough spots but if I hadn’t taken this approach I would have wasted more time and energy while defacing my operations culture and morale. This allowed them to take full responsibility for their own performance.
When they know what the expectation is and that in meeting that, allowing. them what they need and want, you can usually solve this problem quit fast and simple. So when you dealing with a difficult employee, sometimes it’s as easy as finding out what they need. Just make sure they understand what is required of them while meeting their needs.