What to do when a good employee has a bad attitude

As a business owner, you probably already know that finding good employees is difficult. This is why we value great employees for their productivity, performance and commitment to their work. However, what if you have a great employee with a bad attitude? This is a situation that any business owner, entrepreneur or manager will experience at one time or another.

Every workplace experiences employees who experience low morale. These employees usually cannot make significant errors that draw attention to themselves. But like a hidden virus running in the background of a computer, a bad attitude can destroy company morale.

While a perfect employee does not exist, a good employee with a bad attitude presents a unique challenge: Should you choose between performance or morale? Hopefully, you won’t have to choose because we present what to do when a good employee has a bad attitude. But first, let’s look at the reasons why some good employees exhibit negative attitudes in the first place.

Why would a good employee have a bad attitude?

Unfortunately, a hostile attitude of just a few employees can negatively affect the entire workforce. It can also affect company profitability, undermine management authority, and prevent everyone from enjoying their time at work. It’s even worse when the employee perpetuating the negativity is one of your top performers. There are many reasons why a top performer’s attitude may change or deteriorate.

Here are a few reasons why this might happen:

  1. Employee sense of entitlement-When a good performer feels they are owed more than others in the same position, they may develop negative attitudes toward their peers and management.
  2. The company culture is nurturing negativity-Perhaps the company culture has changed. Change can “close” good employees to the company and its goals. When this happens, you will occasionally witness it Good employees don’t start caring about their work.
  3. Good employees are overconfident-A good employee may feel that they are “above the law” in a sense. They may be so confident in their performance that they feel as if they don’t need to follow the rules. They may also feel that they don’t need to be respected by others because of their job performance. Basically, employees may feel that they are too valuable to reap any negative consequences of their behavior.
  4. Employees are no longer happy with their position-When an employee is no longer happy with their position, for whatever reason, it can show in their behavior. A change in an employee’s attitude is also one Sign that an employee is about to leave.

There are several reasons why a good employee may develop a bad attitude. There may be some factors related to you and your company. Others may be completely independent of either.

Meet employees and express concerns

To prevent bad attitudes from contaminating an organization, it’s best to talk to these employees about their actions and work with them to find solutions to their workplace problems. Before meeting with the employee, be aware of handling this procedure in person. Ideally, meetings are conducted on a neutral basis. It could be a conference room rather than a manager’s office. By providing a comfortable setting, the employee will feel less intimidated and, ideally, more comfortable having an honest conversation.

Determine if the employee’s general attitude can be interpreted as having a bad attitude or if there is a larger problem at play. Let the employee know that you are concerned that they are expressing a negative attitude, as they may not be aware of their actions.

Avoid criticizing the employee for what appears to be an attitude problem. Instead, provide specific examples of the employee’s actions that support your observations and give the employee ample time to respond.

Attempt to address the cause of the attitude

After giving the employee specific examples and allowing them to respond, repeat what you heard the employee say. Repeating things to the employee will ensure that you are on the same page and there are no misunderstandings.

Please pay attention to the comments of employees; They may reveal deeper issues occurring at work or in their personal lives that may be the root cause of their attitudes. Allowing employees to express their concerns, giving them a voice and an opportunity to explain their behavior is important, all of which can help address negative attitudes.

Avoid spreading negative attitudes

One thing you want to avoid is spreading negativity within your team. A negative attitude, similar to a positive one, is contagious. This is when you want to prevent the spread of negativity to other employees.

Let the employee know that their current behavior may affect their co-workers and how you are trying to foster a positive and encouraging work environment. Explain how important it is to maintain a positive attitude and that failure to do so can damage the manager’s perception of them and hinder their position and career advancement. It is also wise to empower employees and ensure that they know they can always address their concerns, challenges and issues in the company with their managers.

Take corrective action if the situation does not improve

Ignoring an employee with a chronic bad attitude can not only reduce morale but also have a detrimental effect on productivity. It can too Other good employees have to be let go, or even as a result of legal action. While having these discussions can be awkward and uncomfortable, confronting the issues will help stop the negativity before it spreads.

  • Document bad behavior – A “poor attitude” is a general term, so be as specific as possible when documenting problems with an employee. Note the unacceptable behavior, where it occurred, who was involved, and as much detail as possible surrounding the situation. Be as descriptive as possible, including dates and other relevant information. Also, try to include only information. Additionally, note any complaints voiced by other employees.
  • Discuss the behavior and why it is problematic – Discuss the employee’s behavioral issues privately and set the appropriate tone. While you want to be assertive, you don’t want to come across as strict or patronizing. Explain the difficulties you notice and why they are problems without criticizing the person. If applicable, identify areas in the employee handbook that violate the behaviors in question

Remember that there may be justification for the employee’s negative attitude. For example, is the workload overwhelming? Does the employee have any personal issues at home that are weighing on their minds? Allow the employee to provide feedback. The aim is to improve the attitude of the employees. So, make sure the employee understands what is expected of them. Be specific about what behavior you want to see improved.

Be willing to participate with the employee

After a thorough discussion of the matter, if the employee is not open to change or does not see what they did wrong, you may need to take disciplinary action against them. Suspending them can be an important step. However, you must be willing to stop employing them.

Termination may be wise in some circumstances. This may be the only solution to extreme behavior and persistent bad attitudes. Again, make sure to document the incident thoroughly. As we mentioned earlier, there are times when nothing can be done to change a person’s attitude. Termination can save your company culture and the happiness of your other employees.


In the workplace, negativity and bad attitudes can destroy productivity. Managers can reduce the likelihood of bad attitudes spreading by taking the time to talk about the issue. This must be done in a non-adversarial manner; Looking for a positive resolution and changed behavior.

While dealing with conflict and an employee exhibiting a bad attitude can be uncomfortable, it’s important to be direct and nip the problem in the bud before the bad attitude spreads or causes irreparable damage to the company.

Sarah Ruddle

Team Writer: For more than 15 years, Sarah Ruddle has been a notable leader in the business and nonprofit world. Sarah has led an impressive career as the founder of the nonprofits The Torch and Torch180. She has been featured in well-known publications including Women’s Day Magazine.
Sarah was honored with the President’s Award for her MBA thesis on how cryptocurrency can revolutionize homelessness and was awarded the Entrepreneurship Award for her doctoral thesis. He holds a doctorate from Berkeley and is a professor teaching business and entrepreneurship classes at the University of Iowa, Eastern Michigan, and Cal Southern.
On a mission to support young entrepreneurs, she is focused on improving education, developing critical soft skills, increasing self-awareness and confidence, and creating collaborative learning spaces as a business mentor. An inspirational speaker at schools across America, speaking on leadership, selfless service and commitment to community. Prior to her time in the business world, Sarah served in the United States Army as a youth pastor, an commissioned chaplain, and an intelligence analyst.

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Business Opportunities · Company Culture · Featured · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Leadership · Mindset

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Entrepreneurial Lifestyle · Find Your Way · Grow Your Business · Lead Your Team · Your Mindset

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