There may be good days and bad days, but what do you do if you have a character that seems to unleash a bit of negativity onto the team? Whether they constantly complain, give attitude, or defend themselves at every corner, it's an unfortunate situation that needs to be addressed.
I have seen companies run themselves into the ground because of employees that could smooth talk their way through a one-on-one but show a different side behind closed doors and during the day-to-day grind. It gave the founders stress, sleepless nights, and ultimately led to a team that turned for the worse.
Now, this is not an ideal situation and it sounds like a downer, but it happens. So, if you've found yourself this far, there are a few things that an emotionally intelligent leader can do to make sure that everyone and everything stays calm and cool.
1. Reassure yourself that it's not all in your head - keep all the events documented
Sometimes we have days where we're a little bit more on edge and an offhand comment might rile us up more than it normally would. Instead of reacting harshly right away, document the event and why that put you off.
Was it a comment that was against company values? Was it an action that was disrespectful? There are occasions where you may need to react right away, but oftentimes, letting the moment cool off so that you can approach it later with an even-keel manner and an action plan is a better idea.
2. When it comes time to talk, have a heart-to-heart and be equal parts firm but kind
You hired this employee because you believed they were a good person and they could do the job well, too. So when it comes down to it, start by giving them the benefit of the doubt and come from a place of care and concern.
Rosalin Anderson, the Chief Branding Officer of restaurant chain Just Salad says this:
"I sit down with this person off-site and then have a real heart to heart with them about what is bothering them and what their frustrations are. I do not approach the employee from a negative place, but rather what is the real root of the problem and how can I get this employee over this phase that could be counter-productive."
Most importantly, don't forget to be firm. They performed an action that was not okay. Let them know you understand where they're coming from but that it's crucial they separate those feelings from the workplace.
3. Have an action plan
Don Maruska, a master certified coach and author of "How Great Decision Get Made", says:
"There's a proven and straightforward way to make effective requests of others. It's called I.O.R.C. - Intention, Observation, Request, and Confirmation."
His method says that your intention should clearly state what you want to do and why. The observation should come from a nonjudgmental phase and is best done with using "I" statements. When it comes to the request, directly state and ask if the other person is willing to work together. In the confirmation stage, make it clear that if the other person cannot fulfill the request, you'll have to take actionable next steps.
4. Conduct a meeting where you're not involved
Oftentimes, people are afraid to point out that leadership may be the issue. When it's a small company with an informal HR team, this can be even harder to deal with.
Pamela Shand of Offerstage Consulting recommends:
"Conduct a Town Hall type of meeting where management isn't allowed. If employees can't trust HR (which is a whole other issue) bring in a consultant they can trust. Figure out how they feel and go from there."
5. Realize when it might be time
As a leader, it's no fun to say goodbye to someone that you once thought was the perfect fit, but sometimes, it is the only way to make sure that this person doesn't spread the negativity amongst the rest of the team. DeeAnn Sims, founder of creative agency SPBX, has been through it:
"Unfortunately, there may very well come a time that you hire someone who looks amazing on paper, and seems to hit all the right marks, but just isn't aligned with your core values. If it's just not a good fit, it's just not a good fit."
Bring them into your office and let them know that it isn't working out. At the end of the day, it's better for both parties to be on their way to finding something that works.