How to manage a negative employee
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
You could give every employee in the office a bonus, an extra week off and a party to celebrate — but there would still be that one guy who would find a reason to complain.
Almost every manager has run up against a negative employee at some point in their careers. Even the best employees can have an off day, but when someone on the team is consistently complaining, the manager needs to deal with the situation before it spreads, brings down the company morale or productivity, causes other employees to leave or damages relationships with clients.
So, what do you do?
Check yourself. Is the employee really negative or just not communicating well with their manager or other employees? Do not respond with bad behavior, becoming negative or talking about them behind their back.
Don’t ignore it. The negativity can affect other people in the office and hurt their productivity and the company culture.
Gather your facts. Have you seen the negative behavior or just heard others complain? Talk to people on the team to see how they are working together, without mentioning any employees by name. Ask them if there are any issues. Write down anything you have seen or anything employees mention, particularly if it is a recurring theme. Ask for specifics, not just “I don’t like Joe.” Why? Was there something that occurred?
Talk to the employee. Do not say “the other employees don’t like you.” Instead, give feedback about what they are doing well and how you want the team to work together. Give specifics. Say “When you don’t let others speak at the meeting, it stops the team from being productive.”
No excuses. People control their attitude and constant complaining is a choice. Smart managers will talk to their employees and find out if there is a personal problem affecting their behavior. Listen, but do not condone the bad behavior at the office. Some of their complaints could be legitimate, and managers should take action to correct those issues or explain why they exist and a timeline for getting them corrected.
Document the problems and when and where you met with the employee.
Get the employee involved. While his or her negative attitude can bring down the team, they can see the potential pitfalls in any plan. But they should share those with the manager and not the entire team. Check in regularly with the employee and the team to see how things are going.
Be positive. Managers need to listen to the negative employee’s concerns, but then ask them to find something positive. While managers can’t control how the employee thinks, they can set boundaries for how they behave and speak at work. Discuss how they can be more positive at work.
Help build their self-image. Be sure to tell the employee what they are doing right as well as what needs to be corrected. A positive word can go a long way. Look for things to talk to them about and have positive interaction during the workday.
Put a plan in place for performance improvement. Be specific about the behavior that needs to be changed. The plan should be documented.
If all else fails, goodbye. When a manager has worked with an employee on his/her attitude, but the negativity continues, the manager has to let them go before the attitude undermines the manager and the entire company.
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