In a workplace not everybody has the spirit and joy of Mary Poppins or a constant smile like Mickey Mouse. Yes, these are fictional characters and in reality no one is ever always in a great mood. However, for the most part, at work people tend to lean towards happiness and positivity. But what about the opposite end of the spectrum? People who are perpetually negative, with a constant cloud of disapproval and hostility hanging over them?
Unfortunately, they also exist. And that type of an attitude can have a lasting effect in the workplace. They’re not always easy to pick out of a crowd, but they can do their fair share of damage over time. Negative employees like this tend to fall under the radar and don’t make the big mistakes that call attention to themselves. They are typically good at their jobs so don’t get called out on their negative behaviour.
If you’re not sure, here are a few telltale signs of an unhappy or negative employee. They include employees who:
- are always finding things to complain about, or over emphasize a co-workers mistake;
- are gossipers and turn fellow employees against each other;
- talk behind co-workers’ backs, or
- undermine authority with criticism that’s not obvious, so is rarely corrected.
The first step to dealing with a bad attitude is for the manager to identify the actions of negative people , then make it clear that those actions will not be tolerated. If the individual is a good performer this can be difficult. But the bottom line is you cannot let one individual cripple the whole team’s morale.
Understand the Problem
The first step is to take a closer look at the employee’s behaviour to understand what’s causing it. Maybe they are not happy with their job, or are not being challenged enough. Perhaps they are having issues in their personal life. Whatever it may be, talk with them and ask them how they are doing – not just at work but at home too. If you find there’s a reason for why they’re acting the way they are, offer solutions to help.
Provide Constructive Feedback
In many cases, toxic employees don’t know the effect they have on others. That’s why it’s important to give honest and direct feedback. Explain the negative behaviour and its effects using specific examples. And talk about the kind of behaviour you would rather see by telling them what you expect them to change. Aim for clearly defined, measurable goals by creating an improvement plan with the employee. This will give them a chance to change their attitude and have a more positive impact on people.
Explain the Consequences
While developing a plan, make sure the consequences of continuing with a bad attitude are clear. Let that employee know what they stand to lose if the behaviour continues. This is not a threat of getting fired, but let them know that privileges that they care for could be taken away or modified as a result. This could be a bonus or the ability to work from home. Whatever it is, most people will be more likely to change their attitude if they know that it comes at a cost.
Here are a few additional tips. Don’t get distracted and always document everything. Have a clear plan and a paper trail of the actions taken. This is extremely important and will serve you well when issues like this are escalated.