Every employer and manager will at some point come across one or two employees who have a bad attitude.
An employee with a bad attitude – you know the sort of person – uncooperative, rude, shows no commitment, acts insubordinately, speaks badly about their colleagues or shirks their professional responsibilities. This can be hugely damaging and disruptive for your organisation. It can cause decreased productivity, low staff morale and a negative workplace environment.
Rather than just ‘put up’ with an employee’s bad attitude, you should take steps to correct the core issues to avoid bigger (and more costly) problems developing.
How should I address an employee’s bad attitude?
At first, you should sit down with the employee and try to address it informally.
You should remind them of your company’s ethos and values, and the standards and expectations you have for all your employees. You should explain how you have noticed certain attitudes and behaviours and give them specific examples of what they are doing, the negative effect it is having on their colleagues and the work environment and why it is not acceptable.
It’s also important to give them the opportunity to talk as they may be able to explain the reasons behind their bad attitude. Together, you can explore different options to resolve any issues. For example, if their bad attitude is because they feel stressed due to the demands of the job, you can give them the support they need to overcome this.
Often, an informal approach can help nip the bad attitude in the bud, but if it doesn’t give the desired results, you will need to resort to your formal procedures.
What procedure should I follow?
You will need to establish whether it’s a performance or conduct issue. Unfortunately, the distinction between the two is not always clear.
When we talk about performance, these are the employees that can’t do something. For instance, the employee may have a bad attitude because even though they are trying hard, they can’t obtain the needed qualifications or they don’t have the right skills to do the job, even after training. This should be dealt with through your performance/capability procedure.
When we talk about conduct, these are the people who can do it, but won’t. For example, even though they can do their job, they are lazy, dishonest, keep turning up late, or refuse to carry out duties or follow reasonable instructions. This should be dealt with through your disciplinary procedure.
There may be some cases where there are elements of both types of issues.
If you are unsure of what procedure you need to follow, contact your Employment Law Adviser who can guide you step-by-step.
Want to know more?
Explore this further by reading our guidance:
- Top tips on handling difficult conversations
- How to manage poor performance
- Overview of the disciplinary process