There are difficult people in every industry, and construction is no different. Of course, you’ll encounter tough clients that have (sometimes unrealistically) high expectations. But you’ll also likely be working with a group of people, which may include individuals from different departments that all have their own styles, interests, and project goals in mind. 

When you get a bunch of different people together in a high-stress, fast-paced situation, there is generally going to be some friction. Luckily, there are some surefire ways to deal with even the most difficult employees, and keep the project on task and on time. 

Don’t Reward Poor Behavior 

First things first, there are some people who might act overly aggressive or pushy in order to get their way. It’s very possible that they’ve acted poorly in the past, and ended up achieving their desired result. By giving into this type of behavior, you not only let this person know that they can get away with acting poorly, but you tell others that it’s okay to do the same. 

Establish control and order from the beginning, otherwise you may find that your whole team is out of line. If you continually have a problem with one individual, call them aside and talk to them directly. Let them know that if they are unable to shape up, they’ll be shipped out. 

Find or Provide an Outlet

I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Simply speaking, people who don’t have enough to do are more likely to make trouble. You want to make sure that your team is kept busy. By having their hands and minds preoccupied, they’ll have less opportunity to cause problems. There may also be certain individuals that are better off working alone than in a group environment, keep this in mind and make adjustments where necessary. 

Consider the Other Side’s Perspective 

Emotional intelligence is key when it comes to groups. There are a million reasons why someone may be acting difficult. Perhaps they are experiencing a lot of pressure professionally, maybe they are dealing with a tough situation at home, or it could be that they are actually a nice person but just have no idea how they come across at times. 

By establishing an open line of communication early on, employees know that they have the ability to call problems or concerns to your attention. For example, maybe they just don’t feel like their hard work is being appreciated. There’s a chance that there was a misunderstanding or that they are upset about something that can be easily fixed. 


The bottom line is that we don’t always have control over how others act, but you do have control over how we react. This is the type of situation where it’s important that you show as opposed to just tell. Many people unknowingly mirror others’ behavior, which means that if you continually act professionally and with respect, others are likely to respond in kind. 


Photo by Jim Strasma on Unsplash