dealing with a difficult person
Posted in the Human Resources Forum
#1 Feb 13, 2014
Some background: I am a department manager in a large company with a staff of ~30 people (3 shift operation). Through the last year of managing I have successfully increased the engagement of the majority of my team, and they are very happy and productive (the majority of them are union members but are professionals with degrees).
I have one person however that causes problems within the team. This person transferred to another area for the last 5 months, and the move has had a very positive impact on the team.
However, this person is now coming back to the department (which I have no control over).
The issue with this person is that they like to create drama and contention within the group. This person is difficult to work with, emotional, and the ongoing issues I had with this person were nearly to the point where other team members were ready to report them to HR. I have repeatedly discussed the issue with this person in an attempt to get the group to get along better (but frankly the behavior is what I would consider borderline emotionally abusive...it's like being in a bad relationship). When the team is in a meeting and this person walks in, you can feel a palpable change in the room as everyone tenses up, wondering if this person is going to be in a good or bad mood when they come in.
I am very dedicated to trying to create a positive working environment for my people, but at this point I'm at a loss as to how protect them from this coworker. When I discuss the issue with the person, they break down in tears immediately with statements about how everyone hates them and that they are the victim in the situation (this person is unable to get along with even THE most easygoing people on the team). I have tried to (gently) point out factual information about this person's behavior to get them to try to see what their situation is, and that helps for a little while until a bad mood hits, then it's right back to the starting point.
This person is also manipulative and tries to garner support for negative campaigns to sabotage changes (the person is very resistant to change), typically with little success (usually after I present the facts it becomes clear what my motives are).
I have told her that further confrontations with co-workers will result in a visit to HR but essentially I'm looking for a more positive way to make things better.
I would welcome any suggestions. The team has expressed to me major concerns over this person's return.
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