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Key to running or managing a successful business is successful employee management. It’s not always plain sailing, but to get the best out of your team you need to be comfortable managing challenging employee situations.

What should I do if an employee has an issue?

Whether the issue is personal or professional, there is a simple process you can follow to help mitigate the situation:

Establish the facts

Book in 1:1 time with the impacted employee to talk through the situation, letting your employee outline the facts in their own words.


Once you understand the situation, ask how it’s impacting them and their ability to perform at work. Ask open ended questions such as ‘how does that make you feel’ to get the most from your time together.


It’s important that you document your conversations, even informally. You may need to be able to refer back to your original notes if the situation changes or escalates. It also helps to keep track of how your employee is coping and being supported throughout the situation.

Outline a plan

This is your opportunity to be transparent and create a plan that works for both the business and the employee. It doesn’t need to be decided in your initial meeting, but make sure you provide a clear timescale and actions.

It can help to reassure your employee that a resolution or support plan is being worked through. It’s also wise to familiarise yourself with your company’s policies to ensure you can provide the best support.

Know your limits

You aren’t expected to take on the role of a professional counsellor or HR manager. Know where you can offer support, and when you need to refer your employee to a qualified colleague or external service provider.

What’s the best way to handle a difficult employee?

The process is exactly the same as above. The situation can get more complicated if other employees are involved. In that instance, you will need to book in meetings with all those impacted or implicated to ensure that you have the facts, not just the emotions, of the situation.

Depending on the issue, it may be useful to have an independent colleague support you during those meetings to make sure that you are being fair and consistent in your approach.

How do I manage a situation I’m not familiar with?

Don’t expect to be able to put out all fires immediately, you aren’t expected to know everything or have all information to hand. It is, however, always best to prepare yourself by finding out as much information as possible in advance. This can help you maximise any 1:1 time you spend with the impacted employee.

You may want to consider asking your employee to outline their issue and explain why. You can use that information to seek advice from relevant experts in your business or experienced colleagues.

Don’t be afraid to take a problem away. If you don’t know how to respond to an issue, let your employee know that you will seek guidance and come back to them. It’s crucial that you book in time to follow this up.

Running a business can be hard work. Our online accounting services can help remove some of the stress. Find out how we can help by calling 020 3355 4047, or grab an instant quote online.

About The Author

Elizabeth Hughes

A content writer specialising in business, finance, software, and beyond. I'm a wordsmith with a penchant for puns and making complex subjects accessible. Learn more about Elizabeth.

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