How to manage a negative employee

Wednesday August 21, 2019

Negative employees can be real energy zappers. Their negativity can be contagious and halt productivity for the wider team. Blaming others for incomplete work or poor performance, holding up projects, criticising company procedures and complaining about, well, everything!

Have you got someone in mind?

Everyone has off days. A case of the Monday’s or a bad night’s sleep can be enough to throw the best of us off our usual course momentarily. But when it’s consistent, unproductive and somewhat toxic energy, you need to address it.

The risks of avoiding the problem

Persistent negative energy can impact the mood and stress levels of everyone, which can affect productivity and customer service. Anxiety feeds on pessimism and a chronic negative working environment can be harmful to both the mental and physical health of your employees.

You also run the risk of alienating customers and suppliers when letting negativity be the tone of your business.

Five steps to tackling negativity

We know that addressing negativity with an employee may be awkward and sometimes lead to a difficult conversation. If you have picked up on bad vibes in your business and are ready to approach the individual, read through our top tips first to make sure your process is effective and compliant.

1.Lead by example
Think hard about your own behaviours and attitudes – are you modelling the kinds of positive vibes you expect from your team? If not (and it’s not just one of those ‘off days’) then consider what needs to change for you to ensure you’re able to lead by example.

2.Have a quiet word
Challenging an employee about their negative attitude in front of others could make the situation worse, it would be safer and more respectful to have a private informal chat.

There is a chance that they hadn’t realised how their actions were being perceived. Or they may decide to use this opportunity to reveal a problem that they have been struggling with.

If they do reveal that there are genuine problems within the workplace, make it a priority to fix them in a timely manner.

3.Support and divert
If the employee fails to acknowledge their negativity and proceeds to blame colleagues, processes or anything but themselves, see if you can change their mindset. Explain the impact of their behaviour, suggest to them alternative ways of thinking and empower them to take control of their own behaviours. Make it clear they must change as the impact on the team cannot go on.

4.Schedule a follow up
Booking in a future 121 lets the employee know that you are monitoring their behaviour and wellbeing. Use the meeting to review any actions agreed from your previous catch up.

An unwillingness to change is bad for business. If you have tried to reason with the employee and they are not showing any signs of improvement, it’s time to start the process of exiting them from the business.

5.Consider the working environment
A proactive approach to dealing with negativity can include making small changes to the working environment. Natural light, vibrant colours and even plants have all been known to boost positivity, inspiration and morale. Could it be time to upgrade your workspace?

Eliminating negativity from your business is not only beneficial for your workforce, but for you too. Happy employees lead to better productivity, happy customers and more business. If you would like further advice or ideas on how to manage a negative employee, give us a call.

Preventing People Problems

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