How To Manage A Negative Employee – the 10 key steps

Free download

Every organisation has at least one negative person, who drains the life out of us all with their constant sniping or whingeing. OK maybe not everyone is enthusiastic about all aspects of their work or recent changes, but this one person is tipping the balance and dragging the atmosphere down,  and therefore impacting on the rest of the team.


  • The unconscious mistake that managers make
  • How to structure a discussion and agree the way forward
  • Other useful resources

The Unconscious Mistake That Managers Make

Sticking our head in the sand, not taking any action, or, even worse, staying quiet and eventually snapping. Meanwhile the rest of the team are getting dragged into the negative atmosphere.

 How To Structure A Discussion and Agree A Way Forward – 10 Key Steps

1 Set the scene with a clear, concise agenda.For example: I want to talk with you about how you feel about your job because it seems to me that you are not particularly happy. I want, in this discussion, to understand your views and then work out how we can agree a way forward.
2 Keep calm even if faced with an antagonistic response. Never get defensive.
3 Pick incisive open questions. Where do you feel you do well? - Start with establishing their strengths; thoroughly and not being vacuous. (“We really value your contribution” is shallow and irritating, and plainly not true!)What do you see are the priorities of the job role?   – This is a great question to establish that you both agree on the priorities and, significantly, that one of the priorities is good teamwork. Without that the team becomes a group and will never be truly effective and collaborative.
4 Look for areas of agreement and strengths; leave the negative till later.
5 You may have to prompt, or even tell the employee what the priorities are.

6 Summarise the key points as you move through the discussion. At this point the summary should focus on what’s good and the priorities.
7 Move on to areas for improvement.Is the job getting easier or more difficult? This question prompts the person to talk about difficulties, which may or may not be down to their approach. The question minimises a defensive response.
8 Be clear about what cannot change and what must change; we all like to know where we stand.
9 Get the employee to think through the effects of their behaviour.What effect does it have when you….?
10 Look for solutions and encourage the use of strengths.Stress the positivebut don’t exaggerate. Focus on the way forward and what needs to be changed.

Download the ebooklet here and share with your colleagues.


In our video How To Improve A Negative Attitude you will see a manager using this approach with a very negative employee to good effect.

In our elearning module Improving a Negative Attitude we combine the video along with some interactive exercises to give more depth in helping you structure effective discussions.

This ebook has covered the basics of managing underperformance but it’s only the beginning.

We’ve been building our leadership and management development business, elconsulting, for over 20 years now. During that time, we’ve been fortunate to enjoy a lot of success but we’ve also made our share of mistakes.

What if you could benefit directly from our years of experience and avoid those mistakes?

This is just the first in a series of regular ebooklets that we can deliver straight to your inbox. Just sign up (email address only…we don’t  ask for all your details)at the bottom on the right.

The next one is “What every manager ought to know about performance reviews” …. now that would be worth sharing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>