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Dealing with Attitude Problems in the workplace

So, you’re a Manager, and you have an employee that has a bad attitude. They are negative, they play the victim, they behave badly often, but unfortunately they do their actual job pretty well. So, it’s really hard to manage them on that and you are not sure what to do.

This is a really common problem and dealing with employees who meet all their KPI’s but who’s attitude sucks is a challenge.

So, what do you do? Our advice is to start making notes on specific times where the employee displays inappropriate behaviours and detail why these behaviours are not acceptable. Then you need to raise these issues with the employee in a kind, professional but honest way. Immediately.

It’s also really handy if you have values within your business and you have taken the time define acceptable and unacceptable behaviours in a meaningful way. Then you can use these as the context for the conversation. For example if someone is acting in way that is all about them, and is reluctant to work within a team, you would bring your feedback back to the fact that one of your values is team work and it is unacceptable for this person to not want to participate and function in that environment. This way the feedback about their had behaviour is now in context and has meaning.

If the behaviour continues then you may need to escalate to either a Performance Improvement Plan where you set out all the unacceptable behaviours and set clear expectations and then provide coaching and feedback to help them improve. Always provide examples, this gives context.

If this approach is not working you may escalate to a formal written warning, and or termination.

In regards to managing poor performance our hot tips are:

  • Record, Record, Record!
  • Stick to the facts – be very specific
  • Don’t make it personal
  • Don’t back down if it gets tough. Remember: you are the manager and in control
  • The intention is always to improve performance
  • Give examples and context

We recently had a classic case where a high performing sales person in a real estate business was displaying inappropriate behaviours and attitude. Interestingly, they thought they were a protected species due to their financial results, but they were rubbing their team mates up the wrong way and even clients were complaining about this person’s behaviour. They were pushy, brash and arrogant to the point of being sociopathic. You might even go as far as saying this person had a god complex. They worked whatever hours they wanted, skipped team meetings and compulsory trainings, did not complete the CRM system information and pretty much borked all company processes all together. They had worked at the company for 8 years and had been allowed to get away with this behaviour for that entire time. The more successful they became, the worse their behaviour got. So, what did we do? Firstly, we assisted the Manager to document all instances of the inappropriate behaviour and tie it back to the company values. Then we helped the Manager have a constructive conversation with the employee giving them the feedback, allowing them the opportunity to respond and then making it very clear that their behaviour was unacceptable and that it needed to change. We also set out what we expected instead. Not surprisingly the behaviour did not change, so we had to escalate to a conduct counselling meeting and we then gave the employee a warning. The saga continues but it looks like the employee will end up resigning which is probably best for all parties involved.

If you need help managing attitude problems in your workplace then contact HR Gurus today.

Written by Head Guru Emily Jaksch

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