5 Tips on How to Manage Negative Employees

How to Effectively Manage Negative Employees

Is your business suffering at the hands of a negative employee? The cost of a toxic work environment is high and can be difficult to navigate. Learning how to manage negative employees is the first step.


We’re in the business of providing HR solutions, including what to do when a negative employee is hurting a company’s environment and productivity. Today, we’re sharing our top tips for dealing with toxic employees.


Spotting a Negative Employee

Negative behavior is subjective. But the following scenarios and characterizations tend to be consistent with negative employees. A negative employee:


  • Finds flaws in every suggested solution
  • Points out negative characteristics in other employees
  • Gossips
  • Frequently arrives late
  • Misses deadlines
  • Believes themselves to be indispensable
  • Is most likely a highly productive employee


That last bullet point is what makes it difficult for some business owners to manage negative employees. Though toxic employees cause problems within their team, they’re typically strong employees. They understand their job and are good at it.


But the downsides outweigh the positive. Data from LeadershipIQ shows that 93% of employees say they’re less productive when working with those who display a poor attitude and a Harvard Business School study found that letting a toxic employee go, and doing so quickly, can save a company $12,500.


Failing to deal with a toxic employee can lead to immeasurable consequences.


How to Manage Negative Employees

Here are five tips to remember when building an approach to dealing with a toxic employee.


  1. Prepare for the approach

A high-performing employee is more likely to argue or brush off your issues with their attitude. Before speaking with the employee, find something concrete to present to them. This could be a report showing their late arrivals or missed deadlines. In severe cases, present anonymous concerns from other employees to them. For now, hold on to your data. There’s one more thing you should do before you confront your employee.


  1. Let your team know

If the employee in question’s attitude has affected your team, let your employees know that you’re proactive about the situation. Tell them you’ve heard their concerns, but to please let you address and monitor the situation.


  1. Introduce a plan

This is the hardest step. It’s time to approach the employee, no matter how awkward the situation may be. It’s essential to maintain a constructive approach rather than accusatory. Discuss your concerns and if they’re willing, start to put together a plan. Discuss alternative methods for dealing with frustration and ask your employee what you can do to help. At the same time, make sure the employee understands there will be consequences if their behavior continues.


  1. Remain supportive, but from a distance

Only your employee can make the necessary changes. You’re not responsible for stopping their outbreaks or interfering in the moment. Let them know that support is always available through your human resources department (if your business doesn’t have an HR department, outsourcing these services can provide you with a multitude of benefits).


  1. Follow through and remain consistent

Sometimes, an employee begins to show improvement only to go back to their ways once they feel they’re out of the spotlight. To avoid this, you’ll need to remain vigilant and follow through on the consequences you discussed with your employee in your initial meeting. Now that you’ve set the standards for what’s expected in the workplace, make sure you’re holding all employees accountable.


When to Consider Termination

Attempting to avoid termination is ideal, but not always possible. In some cases, termination is the only solution in a negative employee situation. If you have followed your progressive discipline policy, have attempted to help the employee improve through constant feedback and support, and followed a formal performance improvement plan and the problems remain, it could be time to consider terminating the relationship.


Knowing how to manage negative employees is crucial for a company’s future. At the end of the day, it’s up to the employee to make the necessary changes. But by becoming proactive and efficient in the matter, you’ll be doing your part to keep your environment positive and productive.

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