Finance News & Insights

Poisonous attitudes: Stopping it before it spreads

You’d think these days people would just be happy to have a job. But the bad attitudes are still there. In fact, they may be even worse now.

After all, many folks are being asked to step up and do more — not only without a raise, but in some cases while swallowing a pay cut!  But the last thing you want is for one bad attitude to poison the rest of your finance staff.

So, what’s your best course of action to minimize the damage and salvage the offending staffer?

Here’s a three-step plan that can help turn even the worst attitude around.

Step 1: Decide how bad it really is

Granted, fuses are probably pretty short on both sides of the desk.  So people may be quicker to complain about co-workers.

That’s why it couldn’t hurt to a take step back and determine just how bad that individual’s attitude really is.

In stressful times like these if the behavior is relatively minor, it may be better to let it slide. Someone who talks too much or the opposite — or conversely, is too withdrawn — isn’t that big of a problem in the grand scheme of things. And occasional complaints are going to happen. These are the types of behaviors that may be better left unaddressed so you don’t end up with an even bigger problem on your hands.

However, there are plenty of bad attitudes that cannot be overlooked. A few examples:

  • behavior that upsets co-workers so much it disrupts their work
  • frequent mistakes
  • attendance problems, and
  • constant complaining.

One or more of those, and you’ll want to act fast.

Step 2: Broach the subject the right way

So, you’ve decided you need a sit-down with a staffer who has a bad attitude. Naturally, this is a matter you’ll want to address in private.

But what you say is just as crucial as where you say it.

You’ll have better luck if you address the behavior, rather than the attitude.

After all, you can actually see (and document for performance review purposes) a behavior.

Better to tell someone, “It’s unacceptable for you to turn your back and walk away when another employee is still talking to you,” than, “You have a bad attitude.”

It’s more concrete and more correctable.

Step 3: Follow up and follow through

No matter what the upshot of your conversation, what comes next is key.

First, you’ll want to follow up with this individual in a specified window of time to address whether the problem behaviors are disappearing.

Then be prepared to follow through. If you’re not seeing the improvement you expected by the time you expected it, this could be the end of the line for this person’s tenure with you. If you’re not prepared for that from the minute you start the ball rolling, you may buy yourself some even bigger headaches.

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