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Tips to manage employees with negative behavior

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There will always be the ‘Johnny-on-the-spot’ employees who are ready to help, are usually courteous and love their work. Their exact opposites will exist too in both big and small business. However, why difficult employees post a bigger challenge for small businesses is because such people get noticed very easily and hence affect the entire work environment. The management/ HR department of a small business thus can play a proactive role in managing employees with negative behavior. A few tips for the small business:

  • Attack the behavior issue not the person: The management can use this opportunity to set excellent examples of correcting an error without getting personal. Of course while dealing with difficult people, it is bound to get personal, yet the business must give out the message an extremely counterproductive behavior shall not be tolerated. Corner the employee concerned with the latest behavioral situations that affected the work environment/tasks at the office.

  • Do not react: You must not react instantly to a negative behavior. Maintain secrecy and tackle it within the cabin instead of shouting it out publicly.

  • Give a benefit of doubt: It is important that you help the employee see how his/her behavior is affecting own work/colleagues’ or office environment. Give him the benefit of doubt and tell him that his behavior was unexpected on some instances and that you expect him to be more mature and sensible. This will help him to see how much he is valued in the organization and how his etiquette/behavior affects others.

  • Rise above perceptions: In a small business, it is easy to form perceptions about people based on how they behave in casual hours like coffee/tea breaks or company tours etc. However try to be as objective with employees as possible while dealing with negative behavior. This will assure the erring employee that you have nothing personal against him/her and that the correction is for the company’s benefit.

  • Confront like a friend: Management must confront the difficult employee like the former is doing a favor by pointing out the error in behavior. Tell the employee the dire consequences it may have on his own career or growth, how it will affect his appraisals or future.

  • Lend a listening ear: Management must be ready to listen to a difficult employee at work all the time to channelize his negative energy. Always be sympathetic to his problems but confront where he is often wrong. This will build confidence in him as well as in the company and he will refrain from counterproductive behavior.

  • Keep a ‘motivation-pop’ ready: Employees with negative behavior are often people suffering from an attention deficit. HR must always keep a few handy things to give to the employee once in a while. You may compliment him/her on dressing sense, or a neat desk or anything positive that you see around him. Encourage the positive sides and make them focus on the good traits. In no time, you will have replaced a difficult employee with a productive one.

Employees with counterproductive behavior are human beings and need gentle dealing. However, small business needs to strike a fine balance between pampering such employees and confronting them. Always remember that negative behavior cannot be approached with a negative attitude.

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