Dealing with acidic attitudes: Help for your managers

It’s been said the only way to fix a bad attitude is through psychotherapy, religion or brain surgery.  But it’s a rare manager who is a shrink, a minister and a neurosurgeon.

Still, every manager needs a strategy to deal with this constant drag on employee attitudes.

The stakes are too high to just let things slide.

Looking for answers – 4 key questions

So what’s to be done? The experts say managers should move away from the vague “bad attitude” discussion to the hard facts of employee behavior.

The key questions:

  • What’s the impact of the employee’s behavior?
  • How do the person’s actions differ from the standards set for overall employee behavior?
  • What’s the effect of this individual’s behavior on the people who work with him/her?
  • If this person acted according to our accepted standards, could it make a difference in morale and productivity?

Managers should identify the actions of negative people – and make it clear those actions will no longer be tolerated.

 

Handling tough conversations with acidic employees

Managers need one-on-one coaching sessions to cover these points:

Acknowledge the awkwardness. Managers can let employees know they’re providing feedback that’s difficult to discuss. It’s only human to feel that way.

Keep it results-oriented. A phrase like “I’m bringing this up because it’s important you address this issue to be successful in your job” is helpful.

Accentuate the positive. It’s a good idea to highlight the good things that are likely to happen when the person changes the disruptive behavior. On the other hand, if the person remains defiant, stressing the negative outcome if the person’s attitude doesn’t change can be effective, too.

Suggestions for handling the confrontation:

  1. Be specific about what you want. Managers should try to gather specific examples of negative things the employee has said in the past, and use those in the discussion for clarity.
  2. Let people rant … a little.  Once a manager has gotten through discussing the specific behaviors, it’s likely the other person is going to feel the need to blow off steam and maybe even mount a defense.
  3. Try to use “we.” Work to get across the notion that the issue is a problem for everyone concerned. A manager can start by saying “We have a problem” or “We need to change.”
  4. Avoid overusing “you.” The constant use of the word you, as in “You have a bad attitude and everyone knows it” is an invitation for a fight. Instead, try “We need to talk about your attitude.”
  5. Avoid “however” and “but.” Some managers believe that if they lead with a compliment, it’s easier to wade into the problem. Consider substituting “and” for “but” and “however,” and the conversation is likely to go smoother
  6. Don’t feel as if you have to fill the silence. In a tense situation a manager may be tempted to fill every gap in the conversation. Don’t. Stay silent when there’s a lull. Obligate the other person to fill in the silence.It’s surprising the amount of information a manager can get without ever asking a question … just by remaining silent.

Sources: www.hrmorning.com