A-Rod Drama: 3 Tips for Managing Difficult Employees

The Yankees have weathered the scandal brought on by their All Star third baseman. Here's how you can deal with problem employees, too.

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By Trevor Turnbull

Mike DiNovo/USA TODAY Sports
A-Rod

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Baseball is big business. And for the New York Yankees, one of its star employees has become a nightmare to manage: third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Earlier this year, the Miami New Times newspaper released a story that the 14-time All Star was connected to a Miami-based anti-aging clinic called Biogenesis. Even though A-Rod has denied any use of performance-enhancing drugs, Major League Baseball issued Rodriguez a 211-game suspension for his involvement with the clinic, which he has appealed.

But the scandal and negative press has created a variety of mixed feelings in the Yankees' clubhouse and has strained the team's relationship with Rodriguez. It got even worse after A-Rod threatened a medical malpractice suit against the Yankees and their team doctor.

Related: 4 Ways to Turn Your Employees Into an All-Star Team

Similarly, when a star employee in a business environment becomes difficult to manage or displays inappropriate behavior at the workplace, business owners need to make tough decisions to ensure the success of the company and to maintain respect among the other staff.

Here are three ways to manage difficult employees:

1. Address concerns quickly.
With the release of the Miami New Times' story, the Yankees were informed that one of its star players had ties to steroid use. While it dampened the public perception of Rodriguez even more, the Yankees have been cooperative with the league's investigation. According to Yankees manager Joe Girardi, the situation is in the hands of Major League Baseball, and his job is to assist his players in getting ready for the baseball season.

When you have an issue with a talented employee, don't be too quick to rush judgment on a situation. Ask yourself, "Is this a one-time occurrence or is there a common theme presenting itself?" Either way, address the problem in a timely fashion and set clear expectations with the employee. Sidestepping the situation altogether can only make the problem worse over time.

Related: Lessons in Business Leadership From the NBA Finals

2. Minimize the drama.
The Yankees have been forced to deal with the growing controversy surrounding A-Rod all season. For the most part, the organization has remained relatively calm, despite some fiery outbursts from team executives, including general manager Brian Cashman. The team is still in contention for a Wild Card berth with just about a month left in the regular season.

Although an employee's actions might infuriate you as an entrepreneur, as a manager it's your responsibility to be the voice of authority and reason. By displaying a calm and cool demeanor during times of distress, it's more likely that your staff will follow suit. Moreover, your employees should respect you more because of the leadership you display during difficult times.

3. Know when to say enough is enough.
Rodriguez's representatives are currently in the appeals process stemming from the 211-game suspension handed down by MLB. During the suspension, the Yankees may withhold Rodriguez's salary. Depending on the Yankees' interpretation of A-Rod's contract, the organization may attempt to void it altogether. The litigation -- while on the surface may seem rather costly -- could potentially save the franchise millions of dollars in the long run if it wins.

When dealing with a difficult employee, a manager should consider the best interests of the company first. Regardless of a difficult employee's work performance, if he or she is a challenge to manage and could jeopardize your company culture, termination might be the necessary option. If firing a difficult employee can help you maintain the respect of your staff, then it might be the right decision.

Related: NHL Playoffs: Lessons in Building a Winning Sales Team

Trevor Turnbull

Co-Founder, Online Reputation Strategist & Podcast Host at WPAuthorities.com

Vancouver, Canada-based Trevor Turnbull is COO of sports news site Sports Networker and the Sports Executives Association, where he manages content production, social marketing and community development.

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