For most managers, it’s pretty easy to deal with employees who shirk their work or flagrantly misbehave: They either shape up or ship out. But what about the more nuanced situation where an OK performer has “attitude problems” – is defensive, passive aggressive, sullen, or otherwise tough to work with?
Management guru Florence Stone suggests a six-step process to help you confront the person in a positive way:
- Identify behavior. Link the attitude with specific behaviors. If the person is, say, overly suspicious of others’ motives, point out the resulting lack of cooperation. Don’t omit “small” behaviors like eye-rolling or sighing.
- Note frequency. How often does the behavior occur? Once a week? Daily? Keep count and tell the person.
- Report impact. Explain the harm the behavior is causing the team, department or business.
- Listen. Employees may have reasons for their attitudes. Even if the behavior can’t be justified, some reasons may warrant other action, like a transfer or a referral to an Employee Assistance Program.
- Put up a stop sign. Tell the employee the attitude and resulting behavior must stop. Don’t assume the person will draw that conclusion
- Show the path forward. Describe the future behavior you want to see. You aim to make things better, not just bearable.
Readers: Do any of you have other methods for handling decent employees whose personality makes them tough to work with? Without going into too much detail (please omit names of companies and employees), feel free to share them in the comments.
Source: “Coaching, Counseling and Mentoring,” by Florence M. Stone.
photo credit: justinlincoln
Subscribe to the Leadership Blog
Get the latest research on workplace learning with weekly posts delivered to your inbox