Posted By:

Trish Barnes on April 5, 2016

Dealing with a Whiner? Effective Ways to Ensure Negative Attitudes Don’t Take Over

As a business owner, you’re probably going to encounter at least a few problem employees along the way. If left unchecked, their negative attitudes can permeate throughout your company, damage morale and potentially create a rift among other employees. When you find yourself in this type of situation, you’ll want to swiftly move in and counteract this negativity to keep your business on track.


The Effects of Negative Employees

Negativity can manifest itself in many different ways. Some examples of negative behaviors include:

  • Acting disrespectful to managers, co-workers and customers
  • Frequently complaining
  • Exhibiting poor listening skills
  • Frequently gossiping and creating dissension among others
  • Being quick to argue

When dealing with unsavory employees with bad attitudes, several areas of your business can suffer, which include the following.

  • It can create a more tense and stressful working environment.
  • Strife can develop among other employees.
  • You may experience a drop in productivity.
  • It can hurt your brand reputation.
  • It can reduce your profitability. In fact, information on My Careertopia’s website estimates that “Companies lose $3 billion a year to the effects of negative attitudes and behaviors at work.”


How to Deal With Negative Attitudes

When it’s obvious that you’ve got a “bad apple” on your hands, it’s important that you promptly address the situation and take action. For starters, experts recommend that you document everything so that you’ll have accurate records of his behavior. This will come in handy later if you need to recount his behavior or if you need to terminate him. It can also protect you in the event of a lawsuit.

Next, give objective feedback and explain exactly what issues a person is creating. This isn’t always easy to do, but is imperative if you expect the behavior to change. In fact, some employers will complain about a particular employee for years without actually addressing the issue head on.

Many times, an employee will simply be unaware of how their behavior is adversely affecting the workplace, and a one-on-one meeting can have a considerable impact. Just remember to be diplomatic and focus on the behavior, not the person.

Lay down some specific consequences that will happen if the behavior doesn’t change. You might say something like, “If I don’t see a noticeable change by (this date), then such and such will happen.” This holds the employee accountable for making a genuine change and should minimize any debate on her end. It should also ensure that negative attitudes don’t bring others down.


Setting an Example

Even though it may be tempting to badmouth a difficult employee, it’s just not a road you want to take because it breeds a negative working environment and creates an atmosphere of distrust. As a team leader, it’s imperative that you take the high road and engage in the type of behavior that everyone else should follow. By maintaining professionalism and keeping a positive attitude yourself, it will trickle down to other employees and prevent larger complications from arising.


In all likelihood, you’re going to butt heads with negative employees at some point when running a business. It’s just important that you don’t let the situation get out of control and allow one person’s negativity to infect the rest of your team. By responding appropriately, you will restore order and keep your morale intact.