How to improve employee behavior & attitude

Written by marcia moore, mssw
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Improving an employee's behaviour and attitude requires patience and dedication to the task. It is important to treat employees in a legal and ethical manner while communicating the unacceptable issues and developing a plan of action for change. In some situations, normally outstanding employees may have situations that affect their behaviours and attitudes on a temporary basis. In other situations, employees may have been successful in moving through the hiring process, but are negative influences once hired and on the job.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Written documentation of behaviour and attitudes affecting work performance
  • Written documentation of investigative results
  • Written plan of action for confrontation and improvement
  • Follow-up plan for performance improvement results

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  1. 1

    Document in writing all behavioural and attitude issues. Ensure that the documentation is in detail and that the negative attitudes are clearly defined. For example, John rolled his eyes and commented that the supervisor's request was stupid. The more accurate the documentation, the better the chances of defending the actions legally and morally.

  2. 2

    Conduct a complete investigation of all employee relations complaints. Companies must demonstrate fairness to employees. The plan for improvement needs to relate directly to the employee's behaviour and attitude with specific examples given.

  3. 3

    Address the performance issues with the employee in a confidential setting. Be very specific with examples of behaviour and attitudes. Since attitude is intangible, examples of the associated behaviours and actions should be presented. Refer to specific behaviour, rather than attacking character.

  4. 4

    Involve the employee with developing the plan for improvement. The goal is to have the employee recognise the behaviour and attitude issues and to agree with the plan for improvement. Ask how you may help them to improve and what cooperation you can expect in return.

  5. 5

    Plan to follow up in a mutually decided time frame.This is an important part of the improvement process as it will provide the necessary information for the next step. If there is significant improvement, the plan is working. If the improvement is not evident, new actions for change may need to be developed.

Tips and warnings

  • Comment on the positive behaviours and attitudes of the employee.
  • Provide encouragement.
  • Don't attack the character of an employee.
  • Don't make accusations.

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