VertiSource HR | HRIS and HR Outsourcing


Dealing with Negative Employees: What NOT to Do

Photo by Julien L on Unsplash

Managers often feel frustrated and helpless when confronted with employees who complain, criticize or try to stir up trouble. People often assume that they can do nothing to change someone’s personality, so they try to manage the damage as best they can. However, this is not the smartest strategy, as it involves tolerating harmful behaviors.

Negative employees can wreak havoc on a company. Chronic negativity may begin with only one or two people, but it can quickly spread throughout an entire department. When this happens, there’s always a negative impact: reduced productivity, lowered morale, and higher turnover, so prudent managers try to stop it in its tracks.

Dealing With Negative Employees: 3 Strategies That Work

Don’t despair if you’re a manager struggling with a negative team member (or two), don’t despair. You have several options to turn the situation around. Here are three proven strategies for dealing with negativity at work:

1. Don’t take it personally

It’s easy to take negativity personally, but it’s important to remember that most negative employees are not intentionally trying to make anyone’s life difficult. In many cases, they’re simply unhappy people who don’t know how to express themselves in a positive way. So, instead of getting defensive, try to see the situation from their perspective and empathize with their feelings. This will help you keep your wits and respond in a productive rather than reactive way.

2. Encourage open communication

Open communication is essential for managing any type of workplace conflict. When confronted with a negative team member, sit down with them and encourage them to share their concerns openly and honestly. It’s very important to let them know that you’re there to listen and help, not judge or criticize them. Only by opening up the lines of communication will you be able to identify the root cause of the issue and find a solution that works for everyone involved.

3. Be clear about expectations

Sometimes, negative work behavior can be traced back to unclear expectations. If team members don’t know what’s expected of them, it’s only natural that they’ll become anxious and stressed out, which can lead to negative behaviors. To avoid this problem, always be clear about your expectations from the outset and ensure your employees understand what they need to do to meet those expectations. If necessary, put your expectations in writing, so there’s no confusion later on down the road.

Bottom Line

Negative employees are frustrating, but there are ways to deal with them effectively without losing your cool or resorting to desperate measures like firing them on the spot. By taking a closer look at the situation and implementing some tried-and-true strategies, you can turn even the most negative team member into a positive force within your organization.