How to deal with a Negative Attitude in the Workplace

Sophia Divirgilio Category 01


It can be difficult as a manager to work out the correct way to approach employees who come to work with a half glass empty approach. Some employees will have their bad days, but if this is a daily recurrence as a manager you need to start confronting the issue head-on. Examples of negative attitudes in the workplace can be an employee consistently coming late, carelessly performing tasks, laziness, rudeness to other employees or management, spreading or creating rumors, or anything that you consider threatening to a positive workplace culture or environment.   

 Today’s blog post will give you, the manager an informative guide on how you should approach and deal with negative workplace attitudes. If negative workplace behaviors are discovered by management, it is vital that they are stopped immediately. If these kinds of attitudes aren’t punished by management, the toxic environment will spread within and other employees may feel as though these kinds of attitudes are accepted.  

Why is Attitude important in the workplace?

A positive attitude in the workplace may not necessarily improve the quality of work however it will improve the way your teammates view you as a person. It is important in the workplace to work as a solid team in order to get tasks done. If one person is behaving in a negative light this, in turn, will rub off on everyone else. Having a positive attitude will also help the team cope better in stressful situations. Knowing and trusting in your team that you will all sort the issue out makes it easier to deal with the pressures that can pile up with any type of work in the office. If you know that everything will be ok, your fight, flight, freeze response will not be activated meaning you will better approach the situation with a more rational mind frame.  

Everyone has their bad days, and every staff member and manager would understand that it is hard to have a positive outlook on life all the time, especially if you are lacking motivation. However, coming into work each morning and trying as best as you can to be positive about your job, will make for a more peaceful day and work environment.  

The Different Types of Bad Attitudes in the Workplace:

There are various ways that an employee can display bad attitudes in the workplace. As discussed above gossiping, carelessly completing tasks, and laziness are just a few examples of what you may notice from an employee that has a bad attitude. Each person can self-assess what behavior they may think equates to a bad attitude, but we are just going to list some examples of what we think a bad attitude looks like to hopefully give you an idea of what to look out for in your workplace. 

  1. Someone who doesn’t collaborate with others 
  1.  They may not like working in a team and are very selfish when completing tasks  
  1. Arrogant about their performance  
  1. Stubborn, will not take ideas or advice from anyone  
  1. Laziness  
  1. Never on time  
  1. Erratic or aggressive towards other people 
  1. Gossiping  
  1. Taking credit for other people’s work  
  1. Misusing privileges 
  1. Constantly on their phone or laptop for personal use when in a meeting or working   

If you are noticing any of the above behaviors in your workplace, it is important that you confront the behavior. Below we will be listing our best tips on how you can deal with these kinds of behaviors if you do notice them in the workplace.  

You can find more information on finding the cancer in your business here.

Tips On Dealing With Employee Negative Attitudes: 

  1. Call out the poor attitude or behaviour  

Pull the employee aside and have a conversation with them about what is expected of them in this workplace. It is important no matter if you are an employee, colleague, or manager that you never ignore this behavior. Call it out and let them know the impact that this behavior is having on the rest of the workplace. 

  1. Avoid getting into an argument  

When confronting the employee about the way they are behaving or performing its always important that you do this in a highly professional manner. Some people will thrive off an argument, so ensure you are finding a happy medium and keeping your cool. Consult your human resources team to help you with this process or be with you in this meeting. If the negative attitude or behavior continues and they are breaching workplace rules and regulations, you may consider moving to formal disciplinary action. 

  1. Set standards in the workplace  

These standards should be regularly spoken about and enforced in the workplace. These should come directly from your workplace values.  Company policies and standards are a great way of monitoring and keeping in check an employee’s behavior and ensuring employees understand the expected standards. It is important as a manager that you abide by these standards yourself and show your employees the kinds of positive attitudes that the employees should adopt. Be a leader!

  1. Ensure you allow for open communication in the workplace 

If your employees are comfortable with talking to you about all their questions and concerns on a regular basis not just on formal annual reviews, it will help open all communication channels. This means your employees will feel comfortable enough to inform you if another person’s behavior is making them uncomfortable. It can be difficult for a manager to see the negative attitudes of employees as most of the time they will behave differently in front of you. Therefore, good relationships with your employees are vital, this is so they know they can come to you about anything.  

  1. Distance yourself from those with negative attitudes  

If you are an employee and a co-worker is participating in negative behavior or has a negative attitude, distance yourself from them. Do not show them any attention for their behavior. These kinds of behaviors may lead to bullying in the workplace, which will never be tolerated. If you feel as though you are being bullied consult your manager straight away.

Being around negative people can have a rub-off effect, rise above them remain your own positive self! 

  1. Check in Regularly  

Make sure you keep checking in on your employees, these negative attitudes could be a result of home or mental health issues that are affecting their work life. If you start to see an unusual change in your employee’s behavior it’s important that you notice and do as best as you can to provide some assistance, make them know they are not alone. If these behavior changes are noticed earlier, it could prevent further issues in the future.  

  1. Hire positive people  

When hiring team members it is important that you hire people who share your workplace and personal values. This is one of the most important aspects of getting the right organisational fit. You should strive for a diverse workplace, but you should hire for shared common values. 

  1. Ask questions  

Try to ask the employee what the root of the problem is. Is there a certain reason they are behaving like this, what is making them so negative at the workplace? Ensure they are specific about what is causing this behavior, this will help you as a manager try to find a resolution that works for both of you.   

  1. Don’t be part of the problem  

It can be difficult as a manager not to let your employee’s negative attitudes start to affect you. Make sure that you do not become engaged in similar behaviors. That will just result in the rest of your team losing trust in you as a manager. As mentioned earlier, call it out and ensure you remain level-headed and do your hardest to find a resolution to the problem, that is fair to all parties involved. 

  1. Know when to say goodbye  

Sometimes the person is just not the right organisational fit. It is important to identify when it is time to redeploy an employee, and that maybe into another team or assist to redeploy them into another more suited organisation. If this is the case take the correct measures in fairly terminating the employee from your business. Consult your human resource manager about the best way to go about the situation to ensure fairness.  

Relationship Between Positive Employee Attitudes And Culture   

When each employee has a positive attitude in the workplace there is a general feeling that anything can be accomplished. It is a less stressful environment, and everyone comes together as one to bounce ideas off each other and work together as a team. Positivity is contagious! If your team has a positive outlook in the workplace, It will make for an improved workplace environment and culture. This can lead to the achievement of many business goals as employees will work together as a team, they will have a higher level of job satisfaction resulting in increased productivity and performance.  

It is your job as a manager to watch and monitor your employee’s behavior. It is important you are facilitating a positive work environment to encourage positive attitudes for your employees when they come to work. You may not be “as happy as Larry” every day but try hard to be as positive as you want your employees to be. It all starts with you and the environment your team creates. We will reiterate the importance of getting rid of any negative behavior or attitudes as quick as you can, do not let it ruin your self-made positivity bubble surrounding your amazing workplace environment.