Whiners, complainers, negative nancies, call ’em whatever you want — if managers don’t take an aggressive approach to changing their attitudes, the whole department can suffer.
Here is a five-step conversation strategy to change a negative worker into a positive one.
1. Describe how the person’s negativity makes you feel. Saying something like, “you’re disrespectful in meetings,” puts the employee on the defense right from the start.
Try this instead: “I feel like you’re being disrespectful to others during our meetings. This discourages them from speaking up.”
2. Let them explain. After giving your point of view, allow the employee time to make a rebuttal.
The employee may have a valid – or invalid – excuse for the behavior. If, however, the employee denies what you’re saying, have a few examples to back up your point.
3. Introduce some changes. Here’s where you tell the employee what specific changes you’d like to see – in a positive manner.
Bad example: “I’d like you to stop coming in late.”
Good example: “I’d like you to be on time every day.”
4. Give ’em your reasons. After outlining the change/changes you’d like the employee to make, provide a concrete reason for the change – framed in the same positive way you introduced the changes.
5. Solicit feedback. It’s vital for managers to let the employee put in his or her two cents.
This allows the employee to be part of the change process – and it gives you a real feel for how the conversation actually went.