Tag Archives: problem employees

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.


How to Deal with Problem Employees

Running a business comes with many obstacles and challenges — and effectively managing a variety of personalities to create team cohesion is a big part of success. Unfortunately, nearly every business owner has dealt with or will deal with a problem employee at some time or another. These individuals are notorious for creating strife, stirring up drama and generally making things difficult on everyone else.


What is a Problem Employee?

A problem employee is a term that’s defined on the Reference for Business website as “A worker who fails to conduct himself or herself in a responsible, professional manner in the workplace.” Their behavior can manifest itself in a myriad of ways including excessive tardiness/absenteeism, poor attitude, creating perpetual conflicts with other employees and more.

In a best case scenario, problem employees can reduce the quality of company culture and put a damper on productivity. In a worst case scenario, they can upset operations, ruin your reputation and kill your profitability.


The Negative Impact

There are specific ways that problem employees can hurt a business:

  • Spreading a bad attitude
  • Creating a more stressful working environment
  • Straining working relationships
  • Damaging rapport with customers/clients
  • Contributing to a high turnover rate

Whether it’s because a person is lazy, apathetic, chronically late, disrespectful, aggressive or displays any other unsavory traits, this negativity will usually permeate throughout your entire business and is going to throw a wrench in operations.


How to Manage Behavior

Workplace policies that govern performance and behavior provide a good foundation for dealing with problem employees. These will clarify your expectations of employees and define acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. Include topics like attendance, performance expectations, what constitutes abusive language/behavior and grounds for termination.

Next, you’ll want to establish a disciplinary process that all employees will undergo if they violate company policies. It’s usually best to have a three-step process:

  1. Employee receives a verbal warning
  2. Employee gets written up and reprimanded
  3. Employee is terminated

In order to stay compliant with laws/regulations and avoid unnecessary litigation, it’s important to treat all employees the same and hold everyone to the same standard.


Being Proactive

When it comes to addressing problem employees and their negative behavior, it’s crucial that it’s done in a timely manner. As Barney Fife would say, “You’ve got to nip it in the bud.” Take control of the situation and address it right away to prevent the problem from worsening. Many times, this will prevent a minor problem from snowballing into a major one, keeping operations on track.

Finally, address the problem behavior, not the person. Taking an adversarial tone will only escalate the situation and make matters worse. Remember to present the facts with the ultimate goal of improving the employee’s performance.


The chance of encountering problem employees at some point is high. Creating a game plan can minimize any problems and keep things running smoothly. Keep your business plan and philosophy in mind to remind you of your ultimate goals as a company.