Managing employees who have a bad attitude can be very tricky. However, if you address it concisely and firmly, you'll find the problem is much easier to deal with. Approach the problem methodically and cover all of your bases while doing so. Avoid the pitfall of attempting to change an employee's beliefs or perceptions, advises Harry E. Chambers, author of "The Bad Attitude Survival Guide: Essential Tools for Managers." Rather, focus on the behaviours that you would like the employee to change.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Identify the exact behaviours that indicate your employee has a bad attitude. Write down instances of snide remarks to others, door slamming, eye-rolling and other behaviours that indicate a bad attitude.
Ask your employee to talk to you in private, behind closed doors. Address the behaviours that you have witnessed and let your employee know that you expect those behaviours to stop. Dick Grote, author of "The Performance Appraisal Question and Answer Book," advises never using the word "attitude" when discussing performance. Stick to specific, quantifiable behaviours.
Tell your employee that you'll meet again in a week to evaluate his progress toward stopping the offensive behaviours.
Document your conversation. Include the date and the behaviours that you addressed.
Follow up with your employee. Thank him for changing his behaviour or, if that is not the case, point out specific examples of behaviours that still need to change. Let him know the consequences of not changing the behaviour. For example, not changing the behaviour might result in a written reprimand in his personnel folder or a recommendation for termination.
Document the follow-up conversation. Call your human resources department if the problem is not resolved, and let them know you are forwarding them your documentation so that they can be aware of the situation.
Follow up with your employee again if the problem is not resolved. If no progress has been made, follow through on the consequences you told your employee he would face.
Tips and warnings
- Spend time building a positive relationship with your employees. Look for achievements and recognise them. The first time an employee is in your office for a talk should not be when she is being reprimanded.
- Give employees credit when they exhibit the positive attitude you want to see. By catching people "doing it right," you can reinforce good attitudes.
- It bears repeating -- document everything. You'll be glad you did if a disgruntled employee complains to higher-ups or sues the company.
- If you have several employees who have attitude problems, evaluate the work environment, because there might be reasons for low morale.
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