How to Deal With a Negative Employee

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Although we must accept that some people are negative by nature, an employee's pessimism can spread to your entire staff if dire predictions and cynicism reduce productivity. Combat the negativity with strategies that decrease its influence and eliminate the distraction.

  • Address your negative employee's concerns before she can bring them up. For example, if she typically bemoans communication problems, tight deadlines or an inadequate budget as soon as you propose a project, acknowledge that the issues have been a problem in the past and discuss the ways you'll handle them this time.

  • Have an open door policy so the employee can't misconstrue your words after a meeting or convince other employees that you're angry because of his mistakes. Let everyone know that you're happy to answer questions and discuss present or past performance at any time.

  • Keep the staff truthfully apprised of the company's status or the progress of your latest project. In an information vacuum, a negative employee may spread rumors that affect morale. If they believe the company is on the ropes, employees may not put forth their best effort; some might jump ship entirely.

  • Ask other employees to document when the negative employee causes tension behind the scenes. After several instances, you may have cause to formally request a behavior change on her part.

  • Discuss the situation with your supervisor or human resources department to find out what legal recourse you have if he continues to undermine your authority or disrupt the staff.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your co-worker is habitually negative, let her vent on occasion. Let her know that you value your job and the company, and like to give projects, feedback and changes a positive spin. If she continues to complain, talk to your supervisor to request a change or ask her to deal with your pessimistic colleague.

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