Managing Employees Who Don’t Want to be Managed

Do you have employees who resist being managed by you or others in your organization? Perhaps the employee is a loner who prefers to be left alone. Even more difficult is the employee who thinks they know more than you and doesn’t accept you as their manager. These can be difficult situations but there are some tricks to manage people who don’t want to be managed.


Create a training role

The employee who is knowledgeable but difficult to manage may benefit from being put in a role where they are responsible for training others. If they have already been telling other employees what to do and generally showing off their knowledge, take advantage of that and make them a training employee. You can make them responsible for creating training seminars or classes, as long as they understand you are the final decision for the content and presentation.

Switch from manager to collaborator or coach

Difficult employees may require you to use a different management style as a coach or collaborator. Letting these employees take responsibility for tasks or programs with you participating as a team member may allow them to use their talents positively without grating on other employees. They need to understand you are still the group manager and it isn’t their job to take over that role. Difficult employees are often very talented and you don’t want to lose them, but you need to clearly state that they cannot monopolize the group and must learn to work together with other employees.

Clearly state your expectations

Giving employees more responsibility to take advantage of their strengths can help difficult employees interact better with others. But you must clearly state your expectations that the added responsibility does not include arbitrarily changing rules or procedures. These employees may feel current procedures are cumbersome or restrictive. In that case, give them the responsibility to create drafts of more streamlined procedures with the understanding that their suggestions will not automatically take effect.

Lastly, don’t compromise the group’s efficiency

Difficult but productive employees may be worth the time and effort to manage them so you gain the advantages of their ability. However, if an employee is both difficult to manage and marginally productive, you may have to decide to terminate their employment. You can discuss their need to be more cooperative and productive, but if they choose to remain outside the group it may be time to let them go.

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