Question:"One of my employees has a toxic
attitude. He criticizes co-workers, blames them for his problems and argues
about everything. His rude and insensitive e-mails imply that everyone is an
idiot, including me. We have had many long, drawn-out debates about these
issues. Sometimes, I feel like we’re making progress, but then he’ll send
another complaining e-mail. Talking things through with him clearly doesn’t
help. I’m emotionally drained and have no idea what to do next.” — Worn Out
Answer: Your “long, drawn-out debates” are actually rewarding his
toxic behavior. Like little kids, immature employees crave attention. And this
guy is getting plenty of it, without any negative consequences. Use your
managerial authority to set clear performance expectations. Meet with him to
deliver the following message:
His job performance problems need to
be addressed. You will not debate this issue, and you just want him to
His constant, critical comments must stop. You expect him to
become a pleasant, cooperative co-worker. He must copy you on every e-mail he
sends out for the next six weeks.
You no longer will listen to
complaints or discuss co-workers with him. He needs to focus on his own work,
You want to help him succeed, so you will meet weekly
with him to assess his progress. If he chooses not to change, then he chooses to
lose his job.
Do not allow him to debate or argue. When you finish,
stand up and end the meeting. Then, in your weekly assessments, praise progress,
point out problems and provide coaching. But if he fails to improve, let him go.
You'll be better off without him. If you have a soft management style, this
corrective action will feel uncomfortable. Fortunately, most performance issues
don’t require such a harsh approach. But employees who try to run over their
managers need to find out who’s in charge.