If you manage a team at your company, you're probably exposed to a number of different personalities on a regular basis. Some of your employees, for example, might be downright lazy. Others might be diligent but insecure. But of all the challenging employees you might encounter, perhaps the most difficult type to manage is the headstrong worker who's convinced that he's got all the answers.
If you're dealing with a headstrong employee, it's imperative to rein him in -- because if you don't, his actions might impact the rest of your team, or even the rest of the company, for that matter. Here's how to handle an employee who never seems to want to listen, even though you're clearly the boss.
1. Keep your employee motivated
Headstrong people often feel like they have something to prove, and that's why they tend to insist on doing things their own way. If you give a headstrong employee a series of goals to work toward, he'll have a means of channeling that impulsive energy and perhaps start using it for a positive purpose.
2. Review company policies regularly with your entire team
Headstrong employees don't like being to be told what to do, and tend to get defensive when called out on their impetuous nature. Still, you can't let that person on your team get away with breaking the rules, so rather than call him out individually, go over policies and procedures on a consistent basis, and do so with your team as a whole. This way, you'll get the message across without being subjected to a tirade highlighting that worker's justification for his behavior.
3. Give positive feedback
It might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes headstrong employees act the way they do because they lack confidence. So if you're good about providing positive feedback and constructive criticism, it might help that impulsive person on your team take things down a notch. Now this isn't to say that you should fabricate praise if none is due; but if your resident hothead happens to also be a wiz at presentations, it wouldn't hurt you to regularly bring that up.
4. Let that employee be right sometimes
Often, the reason employees go rogue is to prove that they know best, so if you encounter a situation where your subordinate's method of tackling an assignment actually does constitute the best approach, be sure to acknowledge it. This way, your employee gets the validation he needs, and will be more at peace with backing off the next time around.
5. Document incidents where your employee gets out of hand
As a manager, you may feel pressured to manage your team members without having to turn to Human Resources for help. But if you have an employee who consistently crosses the line, refuses to listen, or does things that negatively impact you, your team, or other parts of the company, it's time to issue a more serious warning, and perhaps even build a case for letting that person go.
The next time your employee acts without authorization, or blatantly disregards the instructions you give, write down what happened and store that file electronically. Repeat this process until you have a documented pattern of insubordination, and discuss your options with HR. Yes, it would be a shame to fire someone who's otherwise smart and creative, but if that person can't be a team player or take orders, you may be better off without him.
In an ideal world, your employees would give you the respect you deserve as a boss at all times. But if you're dealing with a person who's too headstrong for his own good, it's critical that you learn how to manage that employee. Otherwise, your own career might ultimately suffer.
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