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Tips for Managing Hostile Employees

By University Alliance
How to Manage Hostile Employees

A hostile work environment can be poisonous to productivity, morale and teamwork. It is imperative to use specific conflict resolution techniques to help alleviate hostility within the workplace. But understanding when to intervene and practice conflict management can be tricky; you must first recognize the signs of a hostile employee.

A hostile employee is defined as person who generates tension, has frequent outbursts, interrupts work flow and refuses to cooperate with coworkers and executives. This person might demonstrate disruptive work habits and have poor performance. This type of hostile behavior is toxic to the entire staff and should be addressed immediately. Tips for managing hostile employees include:

  • Separate the Employee from their Personality
    • Mentally separate the person’s professional role from their difficult personality. Try to focus on their professional contributions and do not, under any circumstances, engage in arguments or allow your buttons to be pushed. Your ultimate goal is to get this employee to be productive and contribute to the team, not to argue back-and-forth.
  • It’s Professional, Not Personal
    • The employee could be having professional or personal issues that you know nothing about, so try to remember that their difficult demeanor might have very little to do with you personally. Approaching a conflict in this manner could help you not become overly stressed or emotional.
  • Remember to Listen
    • One of the key elements to conflict resolution is listening. If you see that anger is escalating, try to just listen and not interject your opinion or comments. The employee will appreciate your full attention and feel like you are acknowledging their thoughts and feelings. The employee will likely want to hear what you or others have to say.
  • Mirror the Conversation
    • Keeping communication clear is imperative to finding a correct solution for the issue. A good conflict resolution technique is to mirror the conversation back to the employee. For instance, saying something like “So, if I understand correctly, it sounds like you’re saying that we need to assign more people to the project” lets the employee know that you are on the same page. This also gives the employee a platform to correct anything that might have been misunderstood by you. Mirroring helps eliminate confusion.
  • Avoid a Stalemate
    • If a solution cannot be immediately determined, saying something like, “We don't have to decide this today” provides closure for the moment and gives both you and the employee a chance to think about a solution. It is also a great way to refocus the employee and get them back to being productive.
  • Say Little and Don’t Repeat Yourself
    • Reduce your message to as few words as possible. Try to focus on the quality of your message, rather than the quality of your words. Also, don’t repeat yourself. Repeating what you’ve said over and over again, even if said in a different way each time, undermines the message and can irritate the employee further. Say it one time and be done.
  • Have an Open Door Policy
    • Be approachable. An office can host a variety of different personality types, so employees need to know that you have an open door policy and that you welcome their feedback. This conflict management technique helps keep the lines of communication open and makes employees more at ease. This will also expedite the resolution process; the issue can be discussed immediately and get everyone back to work.

Obtain Conflict Management Training – 100% Online!

If you’re seeking high-quality conflict resolution and management training from a proven leader, consider the Executive Certificate in Negotiation program from the University of Notre Dame. Offered 100% online by Notre Dame’s acclaimed Mendoza College of Business, the executive certificate program is delivered via a flexible, video-based e-learning platform that allows you to complete your courses anytime and anywhere.

Through Notre Dame’s Executive Certificate in Negotiation program, you’ll learn how to assess the needs and motivation of employees at all levels, enhance your skills in both giving and receiving feedback, and learn how to coach effectively and resolve conflict. Upon completion of each course and the entire executive certificate program, you’ll receive a framed certificate of achievement from world-renowned Notre Dame, which is regionally accredited and consistently ranked a Best National University byU.S. News & World Report.

With the advanced skills and powerful credentials you’ll gain through Notre Dame’s Executive Certificate in Negotiation, you’ll be able to successfully implement effective conflict resolution techniques and demonstrate you have what it takes to excel in an executive management role.

See Frequently Asked Questions for online requirements, accreditation, class schedule and more.


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Category: Negotiations