Dealing with a Negative Employee

Every manager has to deal with negative employees from time to time. These people can find the downside to almost any situation, and they’ll share it with anyone who will listen. While no one is happy all the time, and some negativity is short-term, truly negative employees who are never happy can cast a dark cloud over the entire team, dragging other employees down with them. If you have a toxically negative employee on your team, use these strategies to manage them.

Do Not Ignore It

It’s easy to put your head in the sand and avoid dealing with a negative employee, but negativity can spread like wildfire. Ignoring it is the best way to ensure other employees will start to adopt the same attitudes and behaviors.

Focus on the Behavior, Not the Person

When addressing an employee about his or her negative behavior, try not to make it personal. Focus on specific instances that you have witnessed and keep the conversation focused on what was said or done. If you focus on the employee’s personality, they will feel attacked and will not be receptive to the conversation.  Make sure you have enough specifics to demonstrate a pattern. One incident is not enough to make your case.

Understand The Circumstances – But Don’t Excuse the Behavior

Sometimes, a negative employee is experiencing issues in the personal life that spill into the workplace. Other times, the employee may actually be under significant stress in the office. Try to understand what is fueling the negativity, but do not condone the behavior. Be sympathetic, but don’t be permissive.

Focus on Solutions

If the employee is experiencing stress due to a work-related issue, talk to them about it directly and work towards a solution. Whether they are overwhelmed, dealing with conflict with a coworker, or struggling with new responsibilities, as a manager, you can and should help them navigate challenges.

Reinforce Positivity

You can help a negative employee to focus on the bright side. When you hear the employee complain about something, ask them to tell you one positive thing they’ve discovered in that situation. If they are going to focus on the bad, you can help them consider the good.

Know When To Cut Ties

No matter how hard you try, you cannot change someone’s personality. If you have worked to resolve the situation and the negativity continues, it’s time to cut ties with the employee. The effects of a negative employee on morale and productivity are far too great to let that person continue on. If the negativity is truly toxic, you’ll end up losing other, more valuable employees.

Is Your Ag Business Looking for Positive Talent?

If you are looking for positive and productive talent for your ag business, contact the agricultural industry recruiting experts at Morris Bixby Group.  We can connect you to the impactful candidates you need to achieve your strategic goals.


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