Organizational Leadership News & Views

Negative employees are bad for business. Here’s how a leader can fight negativity.

  • Alvernia MOL

Nothing kills a great idea, drains a person’s energy or puts a damper on a meeting like a negative team member.

A person’s bad attitude can lower a team’s morale and affect performance. In the worst cases, a negative employee can be destructive – impacting day-to-day operations and long-term goals of a group.

It can be difficult for other team members to step in and handle the negativity or conflict. That’s why it’s the leader’s responsibility to deal with a negative team member. Leaders can not only help the team get through unpleasant situations but potentially help the negative person turn their behavior around and see the positive side of things.

Managing negativity within a team starts with informing the individual, or sometimes individuals, about the impact they are having on others. Experts advise doing this carefully, considerately and on a one-to-one basis.

Tom Davin, CEO of 5.11 Tactical, says when it comes time to address the negative team member, it’s important to tell them comments are based on perception and give them a chance to explain themselves.

How do you handle negative team members who you can’t seem to inspire? – Tom Davin from Tools For Success on Vimeo.

When negativity is left to smolder, it can kill a team’s momentum. An effective leader teaches his or her team to focus on what’s best for the team and how individual roles and responsibilities contribute to that. Leaders can express what the qualities are that make a good team player. They can keep positivity at the forefront by communicating with their teams in a way that helps them look beyond only personal interests.

A goal for leaders when giving feedback to the negative employee should be to create self-awareness. Let the employee know the impact they are having on their team by providing specific examples that describe behaviors the employee can do something about. Hopefully the employee begins to discuss the underlying reason for their negative behavior and then leaders and teammates can provide them the support they need to overcome their pessimism.

Organizational leaders have to deal with a number of delicate situations. It’s extremely difficult to know how to handle conflicts such as this, which is why many professionals return to school for a Master’s in Organizational Leadership degree. Alvernia is the first to offer an MOL degree in Berks County.  The program uses a multidisciplinary approach to provide graduates with the confidence to make touch decisions. The elements of the program that relate specifically to dealing with negative employees includes learning how to:

  • Effectively lead teams, groups, and organizations
  • Understand team and group dynamics
  • Provide feedback, manage expectations and delegate effectively
  • Foster positive working relationships with peers and supervisors
  • Communicate effectively
  • Positively and effectively lead discussions, meetings, and dialogue
  • Set goals and objectives for personal and employee development



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