What are Behaviour Management Strategies?

behaviour management

Difficult behaviours at work can be exhausting to deal with. Behaviour management strategies are ways in which employees can be encouraged to behave individually, and in groups, in a way which is socially acceptable, positive and productive. These strategies help individuals think about their behaviour and develop skills which focus on prevention and respect.

Challenging behaviour in the workplace can take many forms, from subtle comments, inappropriate communication, an unhelpful attitude, name calling, raised voices and in some situations; physical fighting. Essentially, any behaviour which leaves another person feeling uncomfortable, put down, or unnecessarily unhappy is disrespectful behaviour.

Unfortunately, this type of behaviour in the workplace is not uncommon and can cause serious problems if not tackled. The negative impact can include increased stress, staff absence, lost productivity and an unpleasant working environment and poor employee retention.

Behaviour management techniques

These strategies focus on preventing behaviours from occurring and giving employers the skills to manage their own behaviour.

Be mindful of your reaction

Whatever reaction you have to a situation will, one way or another, affect the others persons behaviour. So, from one extreme to another –  your reaction could escalate or alternatively, stop the situation. Once aware of this, you will understand how important you are when dealing with difficult situations and people. Knowledge of this is very powerful. If you keep this in mind and respond with other effective behaviour management strategies, you will be able to manage situations effectively and help employees adjust their behaviour.

Remain rational

When dealing with a difficult behaviours you should aim to remain rationally detached. This will help you stay in control and prevent you from taking the situation personally. Once you have mastered the skill of remaining rational, your team will quickly learn that you will not react defensively or irrationally. It is difficult to escalate a situation when someone is rational. Vitally, this skill will help you defuse challenging behaviour.


Often when people are upset they need to feel heard. Providing they are not using threatening language or behaviour, let them blow off some steam. Use encouraging phrases such as, “i see” and “I understand” to show you are actively listening. Don’t interrupt them. Once they have fully explained the situation and feel you are listening they will begin to calm down and you can start to attempt to start to engage them positively.

Start from the beginning

This can be a great strategy when things have spiralled a little. Assume the position of a beginner. By adopting this approach it will prevent you from making assumptions and judgements. By avoiding assumptions and judgements you can start again and give the employee the benefit of doubt. Approach the conversation as a new puzzle to be solved.

Ask for help

As manager it can feel as though you have to handle everything. But your organisation should provide you with support and back up. Even if you are in the most senior of positions, your policies and procedures and your own legal rights will support you. Knowing this can help you to stay in control and respond appropriately. If something is escalating beyond your control, you need to accept your limits. Sometimes the best course of action is to let someone else take over.


Engage in Learning provide Managing Conflict Pathway courses which will help you develop an effective and professional manner to handle conflict well and use it as a catalyst for growth and innovation. The Challenging Behaviour Effectively course will teach you how to identify difficult behaviour and develop a strategy to intervene.

Our Managing Challenging Behaviour Effectively course can be found here