Dealing With Difficult Employees Beyond Saying ‘Quit Yer Whining’

by on June 29, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Dealing With Difficult Employees Means Staying Positive

You’ve heard them before. Workers who chronically spout out stuff like, “I hate my job,” “I can’t do this” or “I’m bored.”A negative worker’s behavior saps energy and productivity. And his or her behavior can grate on everyone’s nerves. How do you get whiners to knock it off? HR expert Hunter Lott offers the following suggestion for dealing with difficult employees:

First, keep in mind that complainers are concentrating on negative feelings, and this may be a habit. If possible, get the person in touch with the positive feelings they have about his or her job.

One technique: Don’t fight the complaint itself. Just try to refocus the person. For example, one worker had been complaining for years about her salary. Her manager one day said, “Obviously, you’re not money-motivated or you would’ve left by now. What keeps you here?” The person soon rattled off a list of things: She had friends here, and liked the work, and the commute was short. She was in touch with positive feelings. If this doesn’t work, you may need to get tougher. When dealing with difficult employees in this stage, clearly state your expectations and what’ll happen if it doesn’t stop.

Adapted from Hunter Lott’s audio conference: Negative Behaviors: Change Them and Watch Morale and Productivity Soar, 5/11/06. For more info, go to

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