Most, if not all, of my coaching clients face the challenge of an employee with a bad attitude. One person with a bad attitude can have an enormous negative impact on a team or group. It’s amazing how much trouble one person can create if they are hell-bent on constant complaining and criticism.
Many times, the complainers are darn good employees. They are knowledgeable and competent at their jobs. They are usually productive, and if it wasn’t for the attitude, they would be considered star performers.
These negative stars usually know that they are good and that the organization relies on them. In many instances, they consider themselves untouchable because of their value and knowledge. Let me assure both them and their leaders that they are expendable.
First, if you are a leader, and one person holds the keys to the kingdom in terms of organizational knowledge and power, change the situation. It’s not healthy. An organization must be able to function smoothly if something happens to one employee. Anyone one of us could be hit by a bus!
There should be a very detailed job description for each employee, including the leader. This description is like a manual that outlines the employee’s daily, weekly, monthly and yearly responsibilities. It would read like a checklist with descriptions. If I unexpectedly didn’t make it to work for a week, someone else would be able to pick up the job description manual and have a pretty good idea of what needs to be done.
Yes, creating these manuals is tedious and time-consuming, but well worth the effort. In addition to insurance that necessary things will get done should someone not show up, the manual adds needed transparency. As leaders, we have a very clear picture of how each employee spends his or her time, which allows us to ensure that the actions are ones that truly help the organization move forward with its mission.
The first step to dealing with an employee who has a negative attitude is to make sure the employee is not indispensable. Share the knowledge with detailed job descriptions, and cross-train as much as possible!
We will talk about how to coach a person with a negative attitude next time.
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