Effectively managing difficult employees can be a challenging prospect. Whether it is the employee who is consistently late, who complains incessantly or who seems to constantly upset their co-workers, every company must deal with difficult employees.

difficult emplyees

These situations drain management’s time and energy, impact on the morale of co-workers and interfere with overall workplace productivity. The key to effectively addressing such situations begins with an understanding of the issues and a clear identification of the actual source of the problem.

Even the best employee can have an off-day (or week, or month). Before deciding if an employee is difficult, managers must first step back and neutrally assess the situation. The first question to ask is whether the behaviour is critical enough to implement a formal HR process. Another important concept to consider is that ‘different’ does not equal ‘difficult’. There will always be employees that a manager does not gel with, understand or even like. However, this is not enough to deem an employee difficult. To constitute a “difficult employee”, behaviour must exceed acceptable standards, policies and procedures or interfere with productivity.

Define the Problem

When addressing the problems created by difficult employees, the focus should always be on job performance. It is management’s duty to clearly explain why the issue is a problem, and how the problem is adversely impacting the company. At this stage it may be useful to refer to the employee’s job description and the company handbook.

Clarify Roles

It is important that both the manager and employee are absolutely clear on individual roles. The manager’s role is to ensure business success by leading, coaching and supporting employees. The employee’s role is to meet predefined performance and behaviour standards, and function as a cooperative team member. A key concept that employees must grasp is that it is not only the level of their performance that is important, but also how their performance affects the functioning of their team, department and the company overall.

Identify Expectations

This is where the manager should clarify four things – the employee’s performance, responsibilities, impact of their behaviour and the consequences if it doesn’t change. A follow up and ongoing review should be scheduled and regular updates between the manager and the employee will help to move things forward and get the employee back on track.




 Hosting a seminar is a great way to reach out to new customers and give existing customers a little bit of “value added”. However, putting on a good event isn’t always as easy as it looks. It takes a lot of preparation, coordination and attention to detail to pull off a successful seminar.




You should tailor your seminar to your intended audience. As such, you should decide whether you are targeting existing customers, the general public, new businesses etc. Determining who your audience is will help you to decide what content should be included.


You should consider the aims of your seminar before setting your budget.

For example, if you want to win 5 new customers, you may need 50 or 60 attendees at your event. This means that you will need a venue with the capacity to accommodate this number. Set a realistic budget and try to stick to it.


Once you determine the size of your desired audience, you will need to find an appropriate venue. A good venue from which to host your event is your business premises, as this will help to raise awareness of your firm’s location among your target audience. Alternatively, you could choose a venue that is synonymous with your industry. For example, a solicitors firm could host a seminar at the local Law Society and an accountancy firm could host their event at the local ACCA or ICAEW office.

Schedule of Events

Having a specific schedule will help you create an agenda for your audience, should one be required. Ensure you have enough “leeway” in your timing to allow for unexpected occurrences (for example lunch not being served on time). Consider what time your speakers should arrive, if you’re providing lunch or dinner etc.

Plan Ahead

Make lists, schedule meetings and touch base with people periodically. Make sure that you’ve listed everything you need. You should create a written plan that is designed to make every detail of the event happen (who is doing what), and talk through this plan with your team to ensure they don’t need additional assistance.




 Meetings are a necessary evil. However, they are time consuming, resource intensive and can often prove to be inefficient if attendees are not prepared. Here are some top tips to help you to make the most of your meetings.



Create an Agenda

Agree an agenda for each meeting and circulate the agenda prior to the meeting. This sets the tone for your meeting and avoids situations where people get side tracked.


Timing is important. If people don’t show up on time, start without them. They will learn by experience and they will avoid being late for the next meeting. Equally, stick to your timeline – if you say a meeting will be over by 4pm then make sure it is over on time as your colleagues will have other things which the need to attend to during their working day.

Be Prepared

Set a good example by being prepared for meetings. As others observe that you are prepared, they will tend to follow your example as it comes across as professional. Being prepared for meetings will also help you to win the respect of your colleagues as they may view people who turn up to meetings unprepared as “time wasters”.

No Blackberries or Mobile Phones

At the start of each meeting ask colleagues to switch their phones to silent and avoid checking emails during the meeting. If you make a point of saying this, they will most likely avoid being distracted by their phones and will contribute more to the meeting as a result.


If you are chairing a meeting, aim to facilitate conversation between colleagues. Do not allow a small minority to dominate the meeting. Very often, knowledgeable people fail to contribute to a meeting as they are overwhelmed by more talkative colleagues.



 The pressure to win new business in today’s market has never been so great. With more firms chasing less work, the market has become highly competitive. Consequently, firms have had to adapt and retune their business development models. How firms design and package their bid presentation can make the difference between success and failure. presentations

Be Dynamic

How you look is a big influencer on how people react to you, especially if they are unfamiliar with your business. Of course, clients want to work with professionals and experts in their field. However, in today’s market they can afford to be selective and work with people who are dynamic and progressive. Creating a typical standard document gets you nowhere. Be prepared to be bold and clever in order to stand out.

Pushing Creativity

Tenders come in different shapes and sizes. Firms respond by using a variety of applications such as Word, PowerPoint and In-Design. There is no right or wrong application for replying to tenders, but In-Design or a similar design package can enhance the creativity of your response. Remember though, that accountants, lawyers and business development people are not designers. Focus on getting the content right and, where possible, use designers for the design work.

There is a balance to be achieved in trying to design a document that satisfies the needs of different stakeholders. However, if you are not pushing how you present your key differentiating messages, brand values and personality, your competitors will be. When your client has a few tender documents in front of them, all roughly saying the same thing, they are more likely to reject yours if it’s just another run-of-the-mill document.



 An effective system that can create, store, and track documents electronically is a necessity in any modern business. One thing that is common with any growing business is the large number of documents that have to be stored and retrieved as the need arises. This calls for an effective document management system and a firm-wide document management policy. Whether documents are stored and made available in paper, electronic, or online formats, a document management system will enhance document security as well as making things easier to locate when needed.

One of the most important components of this kind of system is an ability to capture data and index it in such a way that storage, retrieval, and distribution become instant. Many businesses that introduce such a system soon discover how effective and efficient the management of documents and information can become. Another important aspect is that after information has been stored, it can be made available to authorised personnel as and when they need it. So processes such as sales, audit reports, etc become more efficient.


Secure storage of documents is a key feature of a Document Management System. A properly designed system can keep documents using different types of media depending on factors such as how frequently they are used, their nature, as well as the ease and convenience of their use. There are web document management systems that require documents to be stored on databases or servers, other systems that require storage on optical media such as DVDs and CDs, and still others that require storage magnetically using tape drives or hard disks. Depending on your business, your IT service provider will help you to decide what system is best for your firm.

There is more to record management than storage of documents. A good system will enable staff to efficiently retrieve or sort required documents, speeding up process driven work. Another advantage of a document management system is that all documents are available for the next person online immediately, increasing efficiency within the business.

A computer and web based document management system ensures smooth intra-organisational connectivity which also extends to inter-office levels with a well managed flow of information. Authorised users can also connect to the system when working from home or out on the road. With fast and convenient operations, the business will benefit from further efficiencies and increased levels of productivity.




 Businesses need to know their competition, especially in today’s hyper-competitive business environment. Knowing what the competition is up to allows you to develop unique selling points (USPs) which will encourage buyers to purchase from you.


In order to understand the customer experience offered by your competitors, try “mystery shopping” your nearest direct competitors. Things to note include: the customer experience, staff-customer interaction, how staff dress and present themselves, the business environment and little touches such as complementary tea or coffee. Most important of all is to take note of the sales process – how do your competitors go about selling products or services to the customer? Do they suggest how their product or service can add value? Do they offer a demonstration? How do they close the sale?

Products and Services

Keep an eye out for any new services or products your competitors offer. Pay close attention to the quality of their brochures, the appearance of their products and any new or interesting ways in which they add value for their customers. You should create reports which compare your business to the leading competitors in your particular sector of the market. You should circulate these reports to your management and sales teams with a view to encouraging them to implement new ideas and approaches which will improve your business against your competitors.


Once you know the specific details about your competitor’s people and their products or services, your sales team will be more informed and can develop the USPs that they can use when challenged by customers as to “why should I buy from you and not from your competitor?”. Your sales team can then focus on the strengths of your products or services and encourage your customers to do the same.

If you are at a disadvantage to your competitors in terms of your pricing, work with your sales team to prepare a checklist of the specific features and benefits unique to your product or service. Have each sales person practice presenting this checklist, as this particular part of the sales process will usually be enough for the prospect to decide to purchase from you.