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Supervising Difficult People

COURSE NO: K09-001
Supervising Difficult People
Note: New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania Professional Engineers: This course does not qualify for PDH credit by your State Licensing Board. For complete information, please visit the websites of the NJNYOH and PA State Licensing Boards.
Course Highlights

This online engineering PDH course presents a few simple principles of dealing with difficult people. The difficult behavior types associated with these people are as follows:

  • The Bully
  • The Complainer
  • The Sniper
  • The Crude Jokester
  • The Gossip
  • The Know-It-All
  • The Indecisive
  • The Emotionally Fragile
  • The Unreliable
  • The Slacker
  • The Brown Noser
  • The Phony
  • The Minimalist (Least I Can Do To Get By)
  • The Can't Say "No"
  • The Volcano


A fact of work life for everyone in a supervisory role (this also includes the terms “management” and “leadership”) is that at some point, you will have to deal with difficult people. Unfortunately, their behavior is rarely difficult enough that you have reason to terminate them on the spot and be finished with the problem. No, they seem to do just enough to become a constant irritation for you but never enough at once to get rid of them. Your success as a supervisor depends on your ability to deal with them effectively enough that they do not consume a disproportionate part of your time and impede the productivity of your team while getting them to stop the negative behavior. In short, you cannot allow a minority of employees acting badly to consume the majority of your attention.


No single person, book, or self-development source can supply the key to dealing with every variation of “difficult people” - there are just too many, it would be too big, and few people would read it. Fortunately, a variation of the Pareto Effect (“20% of something accounts for 80% of the events”) can be applied here: most of the difficult people you will encounter can be dealt with by understanding a few simple principles.


This 9 PDH online course is intended to teach existing managers and those who want to manage others how to understand and deal with difficult people in order to achieve maximum quality, productivity, and employee development.

Learning Objectives

This PE continuing education course is intended to provide you with the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • When to act on irritable behavior with employees
  • What to focus on before counseling an employee about their actions
  • How to define their objections properly about an employee's performance
  • Some possible reasons why people may be acting inappropriately
  • How to define performance expectations in unambiguous measurable terms
  • How to differentiate between being productive and busy for employees
  • How to clarify "fuzzy" performance expectations
  • How to develop a useful performance assessment that makes it easier to document performance and improve employee behavior
  • How to identify the causes of performance problems
  • How to identify what motivates people
  • Specific questions to ask people about their performance problems
  • How to determine whether counseling or coaching is appropriate
  • How to counsel effectively
  • How to coach to higher performance effectively
  • How to get employees to stop doing the wrong things and start doing the right things
  • How to identify the legal links between employees, supervisors, and employers
  • How to deal effectively with fifteen different difficult types of employees
Course Document

In this professional engineering CEU course, you need to review the document titled “Supervising Difficult People”.

To view, print and study the course document, please click on the following link(s):
Supervising Difficult People (4.5 MB)
Course Quiz
Once you complete your course review, you need to take a multiple-choice quiz consisting of fifty (50) questions to earn 9 PDH credits. The quiz will be based on the entire document.


The minimum passing score is 70%. There is no time limit on the quiz, and you can take it multiple times until you pass at no additional cost.
Certificate of Completion

Upon successful completion of the quiz, print your Certificate of Completion instantly. (Note: if you are paying by check or money order, you will be able to print it after we receive your payment.) For your convenience, we will also email it to you. Please note that you can log in to your account at any time to access and print your Certificate of Completion.

To buy the course and take the quiz, please click on: