10 Tips for Dealing with Disruptive Employees

Dealing with disruptive employees is a challenge that can affect all organisations, regardless of size or sector. In this blog, I outline 10 key strategies that can help minimise the damage done to your operation.

As an experienced HR consultant, I know how crucial it is to address people problems promptly and effectively. You simply cannot maintain a positive and productive environment when disruptive employees cause conflict in the workplace.

Research published by CIPD shows that conflict at work is a common occurrence, according to a quarter of employees (26%) and a fifth of employers (20%). Around a third (35%) have had some form of conflict at work in the past year, and unsurprisingly employees are most likely to clash with those they work closely with, such as a line manager or fellow team member.


So here are my top 10 strategies for managing disruptive employees.

  1. Engage and build trust

I have often found that disruptive behaviour often stems from other underlying issues. Engaging with the employee on a personal level can unveil the root causes of the problem. Take the time to gain their trust by understanding their situation, such as asking about their wellbeing both inside and outside of work. Set small, achievable targets together and consistently follow up on progress. Building a supportive relationship can often lead to positive behavioural changes.


  1. Review management style and communications

Sometimes, issues in the workplace can be a reaction to poor management styles or ineffective communication. Review the leadership and communication styles within the organisation to ensure that managers foster a healthy and transparent environment. Where necessary, provide leadership training and open communication channels to prevent further issues arising.


  1. Swift action and clear policies

Having clear company policies in place is essential for dealing with disruptive employees promptly. Ensure that your HR documentation is robust and up to date, including definitions of acceptable conduct and consequences for violations. When disruptive behaviour is identified, you will need to have the mechanisms to be able to take swift action. If improvement is not observed, follow up with appropriate disciplinary measures. This approach helps maintain a sense of fairness and accountability within the workplace.


  1. Team communication

One bad apple can harm team morale and productivity. Communicate transparently with the rest of the team, emphasising that the company is addressing the issue. Reinforce a commitment to a positive work environment and encourage open dialogue. It’s crucial to ensure that the team feels supported and that their concerns are being heard, preventing a potential decline in morale.


  1. Provide coaching and mentorship

Offering coaching or mentorship training can be effective in guiding disruptive employees toward positive change. Assign a mentor within the organisation who can provide constructive feedback and help the individual develop the necessary skills for success. This personal approach demonstrates a commitment to employee growth and can be instrumental in creating a positive culture.


  1. Develop conflict resolution techniques

We all know that different personalities can cause clashes, so it is essential to equip line managers with effective conflict-resolution skills. Training staff to address and mediate conflicts can prevent escalation. Encourage open communication and provide a safe space for employees to express their concerns, fostering a culture of resolution rather than confrontation.


  1. Offer employee assistance programmes (EAPs)

There is a wide range of employee assistance programmes that offer support for staff members who are dealing with personal challenges affecting their professional performance. For example, confidential counselling services and resources can help employees deal with issues such as personal relationships, drink or drug abuse, grief, financial worries and more. By addressing the root causes, EAPs can be a vital tool for dealing with disruptive employees.


  1. Encourage a positive work-life balance

Problems at work can sometimes be a result of employees feeling overwhelmed or burnt out. Promote a positive work-life balance within your operation. Ensure that employees have reasonable workloads and encourage them to take advantage of holidays or flexible working. A balanced lifestyle can significantly contribute to reducing stress and improving overall wellbeing.


  1. Foster a culture of continuous improvement

Create an environment where continuous improvement is not only encouraged, but celebrated. Adopt a mindset that values learning from mistakes and growing as professionals. This approach will empower employees to reflect on their behaviour, seek feedback and actively engage in their own development, contributing to a more positive and productive workplace.


  1. Monitor and adjust

Once measures are taken to address disruptive behaviour, it’s essential to monitor the situation continuously. Regularly assess the impact of interventions and be prepared to make adjustments as necessary. This might involve further engagement, additional training, or, in extreme cases, more decisive actions. Flexibility and adaptability are key to ensuring a sustainable resolution.


Need professional help?

In conclusion, dealing with disruptive employees requires a combination of empathy, clear policies and proactive measures. As an HR consultant, implementing these strategies can contribute to a healthier workplace culture and improved overall performance. Remember, a well-managed workplace is a productive and harmonious one.


I can help organisations to build a framework that promotes collaboration and well-being.

Contact Leonie Goodman Consulting if you would like to know more.