Regardless of their role or rank, every employee must play their part for a company to grow and succeed. And though a majority of the staff members might be putting in the required effort, the decisions and attitude of a single employee can be felt by everyone. If one of them is a bad employee who is not putting in enough effort or is deliberately working against the company, it can affect the smooth running of the machine and put a glitch on the operations.

Whether it’s a new employee or a long-time worker in your company, bad employees come in different forms. Some will deliver subpar work; some will undermine their superiors, some will boycott work, or fail to deliver on time. If not identified quickly and measures put in place to improve the attitude, bad employees will normally pull down the company and influence their co-workers’ attitude. This gradually damages the company’s performance and culture through lost productivity.


Turning a bad employee into a good one


Bad employees are everywhere. Nearly all the managers I’ve ever coached or consulted have told me about having at least one employee who was either always late, always undermining the leadership, or delivering subpar work. As a manager, you will definitely come across employees that don’t get along with people well or doesn’t perform as expected.

And while it’s your responsibility as the manager to address the issue by seeking to determine the genesis of the problem, some managers are held hostage by these folks, spending more time and energy on them than they should.

For long-time employees, there might be something either within or outside the company that might have influenced the change in attitude. This makes it much easier for the manager to address the issue as compared to a new hire who might not be compatible with their new environment. For new employees at the workplace, it might either be they are not well- suited for the role, or you didn’t give them an appropriate orientation. Either way, as the manager you need to do your homework and address the issue as quick as possible.

And while this might not be the most enjoyable component of being a manager, you will eventually have to step up and encounter the situation, at least for the sake of the other members of the workforce. Failure to address the bad employee(s) will create a perfect breeding space for an unconscionable situation.

You can manage a bad employee, and sometimes help them shed off the negativity. The best approach is to avoid the negativity from coming up in the first place, but if it’s already brooding, work on eradicating it.

So, what do you as a manager if you come across a bad employee in your workforce? How do you identify the root of the problem, address it, and improve the performance before the situation gets out of hand? Here are some of the steps to you can take to turn a bad employee into a good employee;

I. Do Your Homework

There are many ways you might have learned about the bad employee. You might have encountered it yourself or received information from a colleague. Whichever the case, it’s important to run through the records to determine whether or not the employee is bad and the effects of their attitude to the company’s well-being.

Once you establish that indeed there’s negativity from the employee, take some time to determine the potential drivers, whether professional or personal. Has this behavior been present since day one? Are there external forces that might be compelling him to behave negatively? Part of your job as a manager is to approach such situations with an open mind and avoiding judging a case based on assumptions only. So, conduct your due diligence to help you address the situation effectively and comprehensively.

II. Plan for a Meeting with the Employee

Great managers are not quick to jump into conclusions in such scenarios, but instead, analyze the root of the problem to have a clear understanding from all perspectives. Before planning the face-to-face meeting with the affected employee, the following questions set the tone regarding accountability and expectations and are vital for you as a manager to ask yourself. They include;

  • Is the employee aware of the problem?
  • Is the employee fully aware of what is expected of them?
  • Is the employee aware of what will happen if the expected standards are not met?
  • Have you carried out a background check on the employee’s situation? What, why, and how?

As a manager, you should be extra attentive when one of your employees isn’t doing well. Have a candid conversation clearly outlining their behavior and the effects it has on the company’s well-being. Listen to their side of the story to have a clear understanding of the situation. A meeting with a bad employee not only helps you to identify a problem that might not be their fault but also helps you understand legitimate issues the employee needs to be addressed.

III. Focus on the positives and solutions

When confronting the bad employee, help them rebuild their self-image and capacity. Make them aware of what they have done well and what you and the rest of the workforce appreciate about them. Even on a discussion on negativity, introducing some positive aspects is a great way to help the employee open up.

Regardless of the inspiration or cause of the negativity, focusing on the wrongs entirely only causes the employee to dig them self even deeper into their gripes. Instead, emphasize on presenting options for how the employee can change their morale for themselves and their co-workers.

IV. Address the Problem

Once you’ve established the problems, it’s time for you as the manager to pick on the most effective way to resolve the issue. A single meeting might work for some employees, but some will require providing oversight for a while, and assigning a mentor from their work area. For employees that might be battling with the wrong role, you can assign them a different role that matches their personality traits. When you decide to retain the employee, document the agreed course of action. Make sure the employee has input towards its creation, determine what is expected from the employee, and identify specific dates to check on them.

In conclusion, an employee’s attitude will have a great impact on whether or not they can shed off their negativity. Employees’ who are receptive to behavioral feedback are worth going the extra mile to help, but for those with a bad attitude, it might be the time to make hard decisions as the manager. An employee with a bad attitude can prove more dangerous than you think. They may affect the morale of the co-workers, ultimately affecting the company’s overall productivity. It might be the time for the bad employee to find a work environment that suits their personality.

It is also vital that an employee feels connected to the company and their colleagues. The individual’s goals must be tied to the company’s objectives. In situations where an employee feels neglected, their performance is affected. Employees need to feel involved to be effective. A worker may be acting up as a result of the frustration and the feeling of not being able to provide more input at work. As a manager, keeping your employees engaged is very important. The more an employee feels useful towards the attainment of the company’s goals, the more they will do their best.

And while employee turnover is expensive, if you fail to see a way to rectify the negativity with the bad employee, it might be time to consider termination. The recruitment process will have to take place. And though it could negatively affect the rest of the workforce, keeping a bad employee does more harm to the work environment and could prove very costly in the long run.