In school, some students misbehave if they aren’t being challenged enough, and in the workplace it’s not much different.

Talented employees with a bad attitude are a challenging and unique problem from an employer. If the employee isn’t producing good results, disciplinary action or termination are obvious choices to make. However, if the employee is highly productive and creating significant value for the company, negative consequences for their bad behavior could do the company more harm than good.

Below are a few suggestions on how to deal with a good employee who has a bad attitude.

Determine the Impact of the Negativity

Before you take actions to remedy the situation, you need to establish that a problem exists. Putting it bluntly, the person’s attitude may annoy you, but might be harmless, and possibly justified if conditions at your company aren’t up to par.

If employees are quitting because of the employee, avoiding working with them or their actions are holding up productivity, you have a real problem on your hands and need to work out the negative impact in terms of lost productivity. Essentially, you need to the person’s bad attitude into hard numbers.

Determine Where the Behavior Is Coming From

Once you have established that an employee’s behavior is having a real impact, you need to figure out the driving force behind it. Don’t automatically think their conduct is a deliberate attempt to be disruptive. Often they are often unaware of the effect they have on others and the company. In some instances, these people might claim their behavior is just the result of them trying to do a good job.

You should also consider the possibility that this good/bad employee is a highly independent person. While this character trait might serve them well in some situations, it can make dealing with authority difficult, resulting in a disruptive attitude.

Address the Issue

Once you can show how this employee’s attitude is having a negative impact and you have a sense of their motivations, it’s time to confront the star employee in one-on-one conversation. The discussion should be focused on getting the employee to recognize the impact their attitude is having and coaching them toward playing a more effective role in your organization.

During the conversation, it’s important to listen to the employee’s concerns and consider the validity of their complaints. Try to identify areas where they can maintain their behavior and where they need to compromise by having a more agreeable attitude.

While facts should be used to make your case, it’s also important to appeal to the employee’s emotions. For instance, you could appeal to their sense of pride by letting them know others are being upset or distracted by their behavior.

Document Everything

When taking on a star employee, there are undoubtedly going to be people in their corner – who don’t see a need for the person to change. Therefore, you should document everything, from the impact of the bad behavior to your one-on-one coaching session. This documentation could support a case for disciplinary action against the employee later on, or to defend your position should you get pushback from someone else.

At Cornerstone, we can offer companies dealing with a good/bad employee a range of options. Please contact us to find out how we can help remedy the situation or provide you with undoubtedly high performing talent.



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