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5 Effective Ways to Deal with An Employee with A Bad Attitude

It’s inevitable that you will eventually have an employee with a bad attitude. It can be frustrating and demoralizing. However, by remaining calm and positive, maintaining communication, setting expectations, documenting incidents, and having a thorough termination plan in place, you can minimize the negative impact of this behavior on your work environment.

Let’s discuss five effective tips on how to handle an employee with a bad attitude.


Listening is one of the most important skills you can use to deal with an employee with a bad attitude. Listening allows you to understand the other person’s perspective and build rapport. It also gives you the opportunity to provide feedback and help the person develop a plan to improve their attitude and job performance – while also getting to the root of the problem.

When you are listening to an employee with a bad attitude, it is important to:

  1. Listen without judgment.

  2. Seek to understand the other person’s perspective.

  3. Ask questions to clarify your understanding.

  4. Provide feedback in a way that is helpful and respectful.

  5. Help the person develop a plan to improve their attitude.

Give Clear, Behavioral Feedback

Giving clear, behavioral feedback is one of the most important things a manager can do to deal with an employee with a bad attitude. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the hardest things to do well.

When giving feedback, the goal is always to improve the behavior in question. But too often, feedback devolves into a personal attack or simply becomes a way to vent our own frustrations.

To be effective, feedback must be specific and objective. It should focus on the behavior itself, not on the person exhibiting it. And it should be delivered in a way that encourages the person receiving it to want to change their behavior.


When it comes to how to deal with an employee with a bad attitude, it is important to document everything. By doing so, you will have a clear record of the issues and can use this as evidence if necessary.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when documenting:

  1. Be objective - stick to the facts and avoid making assumptions or judgments.

  2. Be specific - include dates, times, names, and any other relevant details.

  3. Be concise - get to the point without going into too much detail.

  4. Use neutral language - avoid using inflammatory or loaded words.

  5. Keep it professional - maintain a respectful and business-like tone throughout things like performance reviews.

Be Consistent

When it comes to addressing employees’ negative attitudes, one of the most important things you can do is to be consistent in your approach.

If you’re constantly changing the way you handle someone with a poor attitude, they’ll never know what to expect from you and will likely take advantage of any inconsistencies.

Instead, be clear about your expectations and consequences from the outset and stick to them. This will let the employee know that you’re serious about their behavior and that there are no gray areas.

Of course, being consistent doesn’t mean being inflexible. If team members are having a bad day or week, you may need to adjust your approach accordingly. But as long as you’re consistently firm and fair, they should eventually start to improve their attitude.

If an employee’s bad attitude is consistently disrupting the workplace, affecting other high-performing employees, or impacting your business, you may need to consider more serious consequences, such as a formal warning or even termination.

Set Consequences If Things Don’t Change

If you have an employee with a bad attitude, it’s important to take disciplinary action. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse and could damage morale among your other employees.

One way to deal with the issue is to set consequences if things don’t change. For example, you could give the employee a warning and tell them that if their attitude doesn’t improve, they may face disciplinary action.

Making it clear that there are consequences for continued bad behavior can be an effective way to get an employee to turn their attitude around. It’s also important to be consistent in applying any consequences you do set.

If you’re struggling to deal with an employee’s bad attitude, talk to a human resources professional for advice.

Looking for more HR tips, tricks, and templates?

Managing a difficult employee can be frustrating and challenging. However, by using the five tips we’ve outlined above, you can hopefully start to see an improvement in their attitude and behavior. If these changes don’t occur, it may be time to consider setting consequences. If you need more guidance on HR best practices, check out our additional HR resources.


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