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There are plenty of rules—written and unwritten, social, formal and hierarchical—that govern over the workplace. One of the (usually) unwritten rules: avoid a negative attitude at work.
Work can be stressful, with a lot of pressure placed on people. When attitudes in the workplace tend toward negative, life gets harder for not just the people and teams directly affected—bad attitude at work can spill over and affect departments, floors, entire organisations.
Here, we’ll examine staff attitude and behaviour—what that means, some examples, and some methods showing you how to deal with difficult employees.
Reference to attitude can simply mean an ingrained, consistent way of thinking about an object or concept. This can be a positive or negative attitude.
As mentioned, it’s possible to have attitudes toward concepts. A negative work attitude, for instance, may mean someone is dissatisfied, unhappy or otherwise antagonistic toward their role—and again, a positive work attitude means the opposite.
From this logic, maintaining happiness in the work environment is essential for a productive workplace. Helping employees maintain a positive attitude will result in good performance, whereas the opposite will result in poor performance.
It’s important to note that everyone has good days and bad days. Losing a client, a poor presentation or even having a frustrating commute can put a kind and even-keeled person in a bad mood.
A bad attitude, however, is typically a state of mind, and it has the potential to permeate a workplace and create a negative environment . As a manager, you may need to choose between redirecting behaviour or letting a team member with bad attitude go, rather than risk alienating other employees.
Attitude at work can be good, though when being discussed it will usually be about a poor attitude. It is important to recognise both types. It has a significant impact on a workplace, including productivity levels and morale. So praise good attitudes while identifying poor ones.
There are plenty of examples—essentially, all workplace behaviours reflect an attitude of sorts.
From just these quick examples, we’re sure you can think of people in your organisation that might fit into either category.
A positive attitude is great—but negativity can be a problem. Some effects of negative attitudes behaviour on others include lower productivity, higher rates of absence, less team cohesion and low morale.
Negative employee attitudes and behaviours at work can be tiring and stressful to manage. But there are some things you can do which will make dealing with difficult staff much easier:
A bit of a catch-all solution to a lot of problems. Sometimes, negative attitudes arise because someone is under stress, and is finding it hard to cope. Not everyone knows how to ask for help in this case, and they may lash out.
Listen to your teams and watch out for signs of stress—especially in the people who are reacting badly. Job satisfaction will improve if you listen to the employee about their issues.
Weekly catchups, performance reviews and chats are a great way to pick up on and fix negative attitudes. Remember, a negative work attitude isn’t always a staff member’s fault—they could have a lot on their plate, and no way to cope.
So, before you think ‘how do I deal with difficult employees,’ make some changes to the way you’re managing a team. Talk to them more. And as mentioned, listen.
After all, if someone has the energy to maintain a bad attitude, they can use that force for good. At first, dealing with a difficult employee can seem, well, difficult.
But once you’ve figured out what’s going on, offering as much support as you can, makes a tremendous difference—whether it’s reducing a workload, changing a role, or even just asking how someone is doing at home.
One way you can help your employees is with access to an EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) where they can talk through their issues with qualified counsellors, who can help encourage positive attitudes.
If you’d like to find out more information on how to improve attitudes at work, please contact Health Assured on 0844 891 0352
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