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It would appear that every office has its black sheep: there is always one employee whose existence seems to be bent towards making the boss’s life difficult by being rude, arrogant, or mean to their colleagues.

Antagonistic behaviour is a challenge for any manager and special planning is needed to deal with the employee in a way that will not incur any legal problems.

Here are some things you can do that will make it easier for you to deal with the problem:

- Document the employee’s behaviour by noting everything down, from times and dates of any incidents to details of the confrontation and witnesses.

- Take a look at the behaviour and gauge to whom it’s directed, how aggressive it is, or if the behaviour is the result of a personal issue in the employee’s life.

- Make sure you’re familiar with the employee rule book - if you have one - to find out what guidelines are for disciplinary procedures. If there is no rule book, find out from the human resources department or consultant about the procedures you should follow.

- Determine what your plan of action with regards to discipline will be. Typically, a first infringement should result in a verbal discussion and warning, which should be noted in the employee’s file. Second infringements result in a written warning, and only after three written warnings can you consider terminating the employment. It is very important that you remain consistent with your warnings and disciplinary procedures, not only with this employee but with subsequent troublemakers so that it does not seem as though you are picking out the particular person.

- Be confident. As a manager, it is important that you assert your superior position in the company’s hierarchy. If you are concerned the employee is too antagonistic or aggressive for a meeting, be sure to ask another manager to join you. However, don’t invite too many people in on the meeting - it’s too close to intimidation.

- If you had no employee rule book, be sure to implement one right away! If there are no policies you can refer to, your company is at greater risk for legal action in the hiring and disciplining of employees.

- Finally, if the employee is excessively violent - that is, they are a risk to their and their colleagues’ safety - immediate termination can be considered.