Say you are a manager and a member of your staff shows negative employee attitudes in the workplace. How do you deal with a negative employee?
In a typical Filipino work setting where everyone is treated like family, it may be a little challenging to face negative employee attitudes head-on. Filipinos are known for their great hospitality. Most of the time, they would rather be silent about workplace incivility than speak up. But being silent has its consequences.
It’s difficult to work with employees or co-workers who are unenthusiastic and pessimistic. These people contribute to a toxic workplace situation that can affect the performance of the entire team.
Check the list below. Have you experienced working with people who do the following?
Negative Employee Attitudes in the Workplace
- Undermining the authority of the management
- Expressing opinions in a rude manner
- Not owning up to mistakes and passing it to their teammates
- Complaining frequently about business, workload, and/or colleagues
- Discriminating or bullying colleagues
- Treating feedback as a personal attack and fighting back
- Taking credit or stealing another colleagues’ idea
- Spreading rumors about other employees
- Being close-minded and resistant to change
- Having too much pride and acting like they already know everything
- Intentionally violating the company’s code of conduct
Now, were there a few people who instantly came to your mind while reading all those?
Dealing with negative employee attitudes entirely depends on one’s management skills and approaches. The best courses of action can vary depending on the situation specifics. David Lewis, president and CEO of US-based human resources consultancy OperationsInc., says that it’s important to remember that how you deal with a negative employee can affect the workplace culture and employee morale.
If your staff acts excessively destructive, do something about it before the ‘negativity virus’ spreads and affects the whole team.
Here are 5 steps you can take to manage a negative employee:
How to Manage a Negative Employee
1. Be transparent about your expectations.
When dealing with negative employees, you must be objective and make sure that you have thrown your biases out of the window.
They say the success of a manager starts with a correct hire. You should be able to communicate your expectations to your employees as early as the interview stage. Every manager has written and unwritten rules. Set your standards and let them know your non-negotiables. This would help the employee self-reflect whether they can fit in your organization. It would also increase your chances of finding people who can complement your management style.
2. Practice a three-part assessment.
Workplace feedback is an important ingredient in the success of an organization. Call out bad behavior when you see it, but be specific. Hold a one-on-one meeting and provide a three-part assessment: situation, behavior, and impact. Recount definite scenarios, identify their bad behavior, and explain their negative impact on the team. It’s your responsibility to let them know that their negative attitude is a performance issue.
It’s also important to consider your approach when holding this kind of assessment. Identifying your relationship level with the difficult employee will help you decide how to effectively explain the problem and get your point across. If your interactions only revolve around work, be authoritative. But if you have established a more personal connection with your employee, a more thoughtful approach would work.
3. Address issues but reject excuses.
“When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.” – Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People
Sometimes, the root cause of negative employee attitudes is personal problems. Do your homework and find out why they are acting up. Through self-reflection and observation, chances are you’ll already have an idea. Still, actively listen to their whereabouts. Maybe they’re really having a rough patch outside work. Offer sympathy for what they are going through. Employees appreciate it that you are concerned about them as a person.
But also, reject excuses for their bad behavior. Remind your employees that fault-finding is a choice, and there is no reason for them to act badly towards their work or other people no matter how hard things are going on in their personal life.
4. Focus on creating solutions and make them a part of it.
It won’t help anyone—you, your team, or the organization—if you focus on everything that is wrong or negative about the employee’s actions and outlook. If anything, it will only cause more negative feelings and deeper resentment.
Instead, focus on the solution. Enforce your coaching skills: give them a goal and explain why it matters. Include them in the process of finding a solution for their negative attitude. Be firm about establishing a reasonable timeline for behavioral change and make a well-documented record of their progress. That way, your judgment towards their attitude will always be objective.
5. Know when it’s time to let them go.
“It’s a big mistake to try and fix a bad attitude.” – Tim Chen, CEO of NerdWallet
At one point, you have you to know when to stop coddling your employee. At the end of the day, you’re not there to babysit them. If you have offered every piece of understanding possible and they still don’t show the least bit of willingness to change, maybe it’s time to let them go. There are instances when an employee simply is not a good fit for your organization’s culture and goals.
But what if this employee is highly-skilled in other aspects, you ask? Ask yourself the pros and cons of keeping them around. If their negativity continues to create a significant impact on departmental productivity, workplace harmony, and the team’s morale, would they still be worth keeping? Carefully weigh in your options.
If you have decided to let them go, observe procedural due process. (READ: Termination of Employment – Bureau of Labor Relations)
There is no perfect organization. Every company will have its own highs and lows. Part of the employee’s job is to learn how to adjust and adapt to the work environment s/he belongs in. Employees who kill the vibe and focus too much on the negative can cause more harm than good for your company.
There is a saying that goes, “Make sure everybody in your boat is rowing and not drilling holes when you’re not looking.” Of course, it can be unrealistic to expect people to be happy all the time and not have bad days. However, in between keeping up with deadlines and achieving your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), there’s no time to walk around eggshells and tolerate bad employee attitudes in the workplace.
Dealing with negative employee attitudes is challenging. But it’s most definitely part of the job.