Managers will encounter numerous types of people while overseeing various projects. Although many leaders like to place the people they work with in various archetypes or stereotypes, there is one common category of employee most managers have had experience with: the difficult workers.

There are numerous reasons employees may be difficult to work with. Some may simply be chronic under performers who, for reasons unknown, don't have respect for or resent their employers. Others may have personality quirks that make managing and collaborating with them more challenging. Others yet are simply loners who prefer to work in solitude, even if that's often counter-productive.

Regardless of which bucket employees fall into, managers need to address them sooner rather than later. Often times, these troublesome behaviors can be fixed preemptively, but managers do not always take the proactive measures necessary to address problems before they become an issue. As a result, they wind up spending a disproportionate amount of time and energy worrying about problems that could have been nipped in the bud by better communication.

Here are three steps business leaders can take to better manage difficult employees:

1. Give them direct feedback
One of the biggest problems that managers encounter when dealing with challenging workers is that they often do not voice their concerns early enough. When the manager brings issues up, the employees will often simply say they didn't know any better or that they weren't aware their habits were detrimental. By giving difficult employees direct, precise feedback, managers may be able to gain more ground with trouble workers.

Successful managers use a coaching process and positive influence skills to have this conversation with employees. Not only is giving employees feedback important, managers also need to learn how to hold that conversation in a way that ensures everyone benefits and learns from the situation.

2. Know your stuff
Giving feedback to employees is an effective way to address unproductive behavior, but at the same time, managers need to be able to cite accurate examples to get their points across. It is often not enough to generalize problems – specific instances of troublesome habits must be addressed, whether it is missing a meeting or doing something inappropriate in the workplace.

That being said, it is important to be open-minded when engaging in these conversations. Managers should not be accusatory by nature and instead look to create an environment of honesty and transparency. During the conversation, managers should bring up accurate examples, and also encourage employees to clarify their perspectives. In addition,  managers need to use listening skills to reflect what they think the employee is saying and feeling in order to increase trust and understanding.

3. Be realistic but not pessimistic
Just because someone is a difficult employee now, that doesn't mean it will be that way forever. Many people legitimately don't understand how they are being troublesome or detrimental. As a leader, it is crucial managers keep their expectations realistic, but not pessimistic – people can change. Going into these conversations thinking a difficult employee will always be difficult and detrimental doesn't help address the matter.

Breaking through biases is one of the most important parts of bridging the conversation and influencing employees to take the right action.

Managers will have to deal with difficult employees at some point.  The key for companies is to make sure their business leaders have the right skills and training to deal effectively with these issues in a productive manner.