How to Manage Employees with Bad Attitude

It can be very frustrating for a manager to deal with difficult employees, and unfortunately, most every office has one. But what makes someone so hard to work with? How do you manage employees with a bad attitude?

Staff Management Tips: How to Help Employees with Poor Attitudes

Here are five staff management tips to assist you in helping an employee avoid another trip to the HR office.

Get to Know Your Employees

The first step in effective staff management is to fully understand the problem. Research your employee’s behavior to understand where they’re coming from, giving you a better perspective on how to handle the situation. has put together a reference list of the 10 most common difficult types of employees and how to handle their poor behavior:

  1. The Undecider: These employees take days to make a decision and then, after it’s made, revisit it again and again. Then, when things fall apart and they are held responsible for their indecision, they become indignant or evasive. Establish a deadline where the decision must be final, and a default decision that will hold true if no decision is made.
  2. The Ultra-Competitor: These employees can’t let it go until they’re convinced they’ve won and someone else has lost. Get them focused on having the entire team win, rather than just them as individuals.
  3. The Drama Queen: These employees seem to draw energy from the drama, while draining energy from everyone else. Set up boundaries for the behavior that you won’t tolerate.
  4. The Iconoclast: These employees thrive on the negative attention that comes from dissing authority figures and social protocols. Oddly, these types often do well as “customer advocates” who can take on the bureaucracy in order to see that customers get what they need.
  5. The Droner: These employees are always ready to give you a presentation–and it’s usually one you’ve heard before. Have a written agenda for every meeting with a limited amount of time for presentations.
  6. The Social (Network) Butterfly: These employees are convinced that it’s productive to remain online all day “building relationships.” Assign measurable goals–like a certain number of qualified sales leads to create every week.
  7. The Volcano: These employees explode whenever things don’t go the way they think they should. Raise your own intensity (or you won’t be heard), and then refuse to put up with unprofessional behavior.
  8. The Procrastinator: These employees say yes to projects but fail to follow through. Unfortunately, the only solution here is a little good old-fashioned micromanagement. Lay out frequent (even daily) milestones, and create consequences for missing one.
  9. The Creative Genius: These employees are a legend in their own minds. Give some lip service to their greatness, then bring him down to earth by breaking a project into chunks and getting them to “consult” on each chunk.
  10. The Panic Button: These employees remain calm for day and weeks, but then when a problem has reached its inevitable conclusion, they run around like a decapitated chicken. Create an early warning system so that there are fewer surprises.

Communicate with Employees

Effective communication is key in proper staff management. Make time to talk with your employees in person, one-on-one. There is always the possibility they were not aware of the problem, and by bringing it to their attention they can fix it themselves. After all, how can you solve a problem if you did not know it existed?

Once you originally address the problem, pay attention to ways they’re making changes. Follow up with them regarding the issue, encouraging them with the positive progress you’re seeing or providing concrete next steps if you aren’t.

Choose Language Carefully

The right words can make a big difference in employees’ perception of your feedback. For example, use the word “I” instead of “you” as it has a much softer, less accusatory, tone. Instead of using phrases such as, “you always ABC” or “you never XYZ,” tone it down by using language like, “I’ve noticed sometimes you ABC,” and then give them a chance to explain their thought process before jumping in with your negative feedback.

The less confrontational you are, the more likely the conversation will carry on openly and productively, without employees feeling like they have to be defensive.

Discuss a Solution

Before the meetings end, work with your employees to figure out solutions to the problems. By involving them in the process, they’re more likely to buy into the next steps and implement the changes agreed upon.

Last Step to Staff Management: Termination

Terminating employees is never a fun element of staff management, but sometimes it becomes the only option available. If you try working with employees and they’re not receptive to your direction, not letting them go becomes a disservice to them as well as the rest of the employees in the office.

How can you avoid needing to manage employees with a bad attitude? Let us take care of the recruiting! Josephine’s Professional Staffing has been providing top employees to a variety of companies for more than 30 years! Contact us today to get started.