Working with an employee who maintains a negative disposition can be quite the struggle. Not only is it challenging from a managerial standpoint, it can also have a serious affect on the morale and productivity of an entire workforce. There are a number of techniques one can use in an effort to curb any detrimental behavior, but their effectiveness ultimately depends on the attitude of the individual in question and, to a lesser extent, the leadership prowess of any managerial officials assigned to the task.
Initiate One-on-One Contact
Don’t hesitate to make contact with any troubled or struggling employees. Make sure this is done in private and away from their co-workers and peers as to avoid embarrassment. Open up a two-way avenue of communication and take the time to listen to any of your employee’s concerns. Simply letting an employee vent, whether it’s about their personal life or issues within the workplace, may be enough to put the employee back on track.
Turn a Challenge Into an Opportunity
Another effective strategy of dealing with a negative employee is to try and reverse the situation through hands-on coaching, mentorship or additional training. You may assign one of your best employees to serve as a role model for the struggling worker, or you may take the mentorship responsibilities on yourself. Either way, offering individual guidance and ensuring accessibility to relevant training programs can go a long way in cultivating positivity out of an otherwise negative-thinking employee.
Take Advantage of Meetings
Regularly scheduled meetings are a great way to field specific questions, gain feedback from individual employees and drive cohesion within a team-based environment. If possible, ask for questions or comments prior to the start of the meeting. This gives you the opportunity to respond directly and immediately to any issues, concerns or questions. You can also utilize meetings as a way to disseminate productivity, highlight team-oriented accomplishments and quell any negative situations.
Award Good Behavior
Even though they may serve a subordinate role, most staff members still like to know that their efforts are being noticed. As such, managerial figureheads and supervisory officials should always take the time to highlight any individual achievements and, when appropriate, offer rewards for those who exceed expectations. The simple act of recognizing accomplishments as they happen is a great way to put a damper on any negative thoughts before they even occur. Even spoken praise, such as saying “thank you” after a job well done, can foster positivity within the workforce.
While employee discipline should only serve as a last resort, the protocol is in place for a reason. Instead of firing a productive staff member outright, you may want to consider alternative forms of discipline. Forced time off, revocation of vacation days or even a reduction in weekly hours may be enough to put a struggling employee back on track. If all else fails however, and you have no other choice, remember that you do have the right to terminate a relationship with any of your non-contractual employees at any time.
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