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Susan M. Heathfield

Poisonous Attitude: Reason to Fire an Employee?

By February 20, 2014

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Is it okay to fire an employee because she brings a poisonous attitude to work every day? (Her negativity is destroying the team.)

Reader Question: "An employee with a tremendous amount of knowledge is bitter and angry all the time. She is very good at her job. She also believes that everyone else is incompetent at theirs. This person used to have a leadership position but no longer does.

"She was very harsh and critical and used her authority to bully people on her team. She used security cameras to make personal records of everyone's activities. No one knows of any practical reason for this. In her reduced capacity she apparently still keeps records of anything anyone does that she does not approve of. She is very unhappy with the person who took her old job, and her new supervisor as well.

"She has been spoken to about her constant gossip on the floor and negative attitude. The result of those talks is that she only complains when her supervisor is not around to hear. She is (nearly) always polite to everyone while they are in front of her, but that stops when they walk away.

"So, this angry and negative person does a very good job. She is always at work, always on time. She is careful not to be too critical when supervisors or managers are around. She is also quick to spread rumors, to go 'over' her lead with issues.

"Despite her skills, I believe that her attitude is poisoning the team. Is this a reason to fire someone? How would you go about letting such an employee go? If you would keep her, what tactics could be used to contain the venom?"

If you have thoughts for this reader, please respond in comments.

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Related to Poisonous Attitude

Comments
December 21, 2007 at 2:01 pm
(1) Lisa says:

In my opinion, it’s negative behaviors and the resulting consiquences that may be documented, and lead to termination. Attitude is hard to prove, but actions and results or lack there of, are safer legal ground on which to tread.

December 21, 2007 at 8:13 pm
(2) Donna says:

I have this problem but it is with one of the supervisor who is an allie with the main boss who is my direct boss. what letter can I write? She seems to work better with letters than face to face. Face to face she sits there listening but then says “is there anything else? I’m not going to get inbetween. The meeting with her is over. Help 111

December 22, 2007 at 5:13 am
(3) Indranath Majumder says:

I think this particular lady shouldn’t be fired instead all the fellow employees who works with her should also behave in the same manner as she behaves with them, this will make her feel how bad it is when she behaves like this with her fellow employees. This might change her attitude.

December 22, 2007 at 7:12 am
(4) John says:

A person’s “job preformance” is a collective of both actual work quality and quality of attitude (team building, cooperation, etc.) This person might be technically skilled, but the overall package is unsatifactory and will cause more damage than her skills offer on the good side. If the attitude described causes good employees to become less effective, then she is harming the environment and should be disciplined or let go…

December 22, 2007 at 10:38 am
(5) Dave says:

If she is an at will employee, she is gone. The attitude issue is more important than anything if you want a culture that invites real talent and productivity.

December 24, 2007 at 10:09 pm
(6) Haneefah says:

I agree with John and Dave. A person’s job preformance is a collective of both actual work quality and quality of attitude. She may be skilled, but her attitude could case a problem. She has already been demoted and still continues to case problems. As a manager, if what is reported is true, she would have been terminated when she crossed the line with the security cameras. A person likes this could damage the work environment.

December 25, 2007 at 9:34 pm
(7) Sadia says:

Suggest you approach her and have a candid chat with her about how she is seen within the company by her superiors, peers and subordinates ( when she had them!). Tell her straight- her strengths are that she can do a great job, her weaknesses are that her negative attitude is viewed as poisonous and destructive and if she does not change she will be dismissed and some one else will be trained up to do “her” good job. Be frank – but fair! There is no point in criticizing her behind her back-she needs to know. You never know, she may change.

December 26, 2007 at 5:00 pm
(8) lynn says:

We have one just like this. She is mentally ill. No amount of talking to, reasoning with, nor talking about this person will be effective. Just document all you can and get her fired.

December 27, 2007 at 8:13 am
(9) Jack says:

This person is obviously not a team player. Rather, she has some serious pychological issues that cause her to perpetuate her anger. If you have an employee assistance program or company psychologist, I strongly suggest you get this woman some help through those channels. Her participation in a program should be a condidtion of her continued employment with your company.

A negative attitude can more than offset competency and and experience. Performance is a total package: job competence and workplace attitude.

If she is competent, then give her the chance to adjust her attitude. If she doesn’t, terminate her.

December 27, 2007 at 10:33 am
(10) Susan says:

She should be let go after the proper HR chain completed (warnings, and official write-up with specific incidents). She is making it a hostile work environment for others.

December 27, 2007 at 2:00 pm
(11) Laura says:

Fire her quickly. She will poison others or they will leave because of her.

December 28, 2007 at 5:12 pm
(12) Sharon says:

If this has been discussed with her and it is part of her file, terminate. If not, evaluate & document – good and bad, accentuating the bad. At which time you offer her anger management consultation. If there is no marked improvement over a probationary period, terminate. You have done your due diligence as an employer and your team’s faith in your system is restored. If there is improvement everybody wins.

December 29, 2007 at 7:53 pm
(13) Carol says:

Lisa and Dave are correct. If your company has an at “at will” clause in the company policy, then you can terminate her based on her attitude. However, this woman sounds like the kind who will take the company to court just to tie them up in legal haggling. It would be better for the company to document the areas where this woman is clearly violating policy and/or procedure.Not only dociment but have conversations with her to discuss the violations and have her sign each write-up so she cannot say that she did not know she was doing something wrong. Have a witness in the room ( a member of management) with you and have them sign the document also. Give her a 90 day improve or remove. Then remove!

October 1, 2008 at 11:10 am
(14) margaret says:

You have to be very careful with this. Honesty is the best. Why is this person so upset? What can she do to change it? She has to have direct feedback with others documented, so she can improve with concrete information. ex. deadlines, follow ups If she chooses to ignore this and not change fire here.

October 3, 2008 at 3:18 pm
(15) Athena says:

First, I wonder if anyone she works with has ever tried to find out why she is so negative. Maybe it’s frustration! Maybe THEY are the ones who are the source of her frustration.
On the other hand, I work with someone who is so bitter and angry all the time, he is miserable to be around! Does a lot of the same things this woman does, keeps track of everyone’s in and out time, breaks, etc… I have talked to our Manager about him. I have told him this, “Any destructive behavior not corrected by an employer, is, by default, condoned by the employer.” I don’t necessarily feel like either she or he should be fired, per se, but someone needs to correct it!

October 22, 2008 at 2:26 am
(16) Scott says:

Get rid of her! It’s not enough any more to just have an employee who shows up to work on time! An employee who is scarring the rest of your team is scarring your business and it’s impression toward customers! She’s got to go! I’ve fired more people then I’ve hired!

October 27, 2008 at 4:15 pm
(17) Helene says:

I am one of those People unfortunate enough to have encountered someone so malicious and hostile to work with. Approximately four months ago I started work in a company which was destined to be a short term contract thriugh an agency. Within two weeks both the Directors requested that I consider a long term contract as they had never worked with someone as myself and felt that I had set a very high standard within that short space of time. Having considered for a month, I signed a contract.My woes started when another employee appr 60yrs of age started interfering in my work. She found everything wrong with what I was doing. Going from office to office saying just how incompetent I was. She patrolled the passage in front of my office and would then sneak into the Directors office and start whispering.This caused me much embarressment especially when she would say things aloud in the passage making sure that everyone heard that she was correcting me in a belittling manner. As PA to the Directors there were particular tasks on my Job description which she forcefully took over to have access to my Directors.When the IT Specialist came in as he did on a weekly basis she instructed him to remove a package from my computer. She subtley brought her daughter to work at the office and told me that the information removed was needed by her daughter. This was done without consultation.The job I am now doing is a far more inferior position in regards to my qualifications and Experience. However, due to a past illness which took me a long time to recover, I gragually entered the job market to re-establish myself.This lady has always worked in finance. She projects herself as someone so competent in every field and can pass as very convincing. She is malicious and dangerous. When I started my job within two days I got to hear gossip of my Directors and other staff members. I dismissed it telling her that I prefer to form my own opinions on other people rather than being influenced. It seems that I rubbed her up the wrong way because since then she has done nothing more than discredit me on what she perceives of me.I have never entertained her gossip neither have I interacted with her. I can only describe someone of that calibre as “Evil” While I try to maintain my dignity and uphold the values of good work ethics, the situation is emotionlly and physically draining me. Is this harrassment? The company does not have an HR component and just today my Director called me in and asked if I would mind setting up an HR department based on my qualifications and experience rather than them outsourcing the work. I need some advice please!

November 4, 2008 at 1:46 am
(18) Stacey Standman says:

This employee can be seen as a problem but also the employer can be the problem as well. This person is obviously qualifed to be playing a larger role when considering the talent side of the equation. We as managers MUST utilize all aspects of a person’s abilities, talents and skills WHILE presenting the person in a light with acceptance and respect. Some people like DIVAS or high demand actors/actresses need some pertainent and wise handling. Our modern management techniques do not include the little positives that can be used to encourage and improve attitude development. With this present shortage of talent in the economy we MUST find ways to retain and realign staff members. This is the same as aligning the team to protect a superstar like in Hockey, Football or Soccer. This person requires a challenge or else they will over-rev themselves in a negative spiral of emothions. In the old days this person would go out for a drink and some nocturnal adventure in order to revitalize themselves. For modern times we must seek special projects or some areas of our work that will provide unique opportunities for recognition.

Most people perform at their best when they are recognized – a wise manager will develop and enlist a problem employee into a strong example of excellence and strength. It is only weak managers that seek to confront problems and dismiss peop[le that they do not undserstand.

November 13, 2008 at 8:56 am
(19) Charity says:

It is unfortunate that the management has condoned the woman’s behaviour for long. She will demoralise and affect other employees’ performance. If she wins one or two other more employees to behave like her, that could mean real danger to the organization. The supervisor ought to deal with her immediately following the the laid down procedures.

November 17, 2008 at 3:08 pm
(20) Heather says:

I think that when a person is posionous to the environment, everyone suffers and steps must be taken to dismiss the employee. Helene, I would write a letter to the Director not only sharing your feelings but also citing examples about this womans behavior(one’s that can be verified). I would write this letter BEFORE you accept the challenge to build the HR department so you have the complaint on file. Once in the HR role, you may have an easier time recording behaviors and bringing them to light. If none of the above helps, then you have to make the decision to work or not work in a hostile environment and move on.

November 20, 2008 at 3:40 pm
(21) peter&tink says:

What if the person with the horrible negative attitude is the HR Department heads. There are two in my company. One is an older woman who is getting close to retirement. The other is not quite as old but, extremely negative and bitter. She is surely going to replace the HR Manager. What do you do in the situation where you don’t have an employee advocate to go to?

December 1, 2008 at 4:19 am
(22) Emily says:

We were recently forced to fire our office manager who had been with us for over 13 years. Over the past year or so she started to abuse and bully a co-worker, a loyal and conscientious soul. Refused to talk or share information with her, at times intentionally misinform her, and when we asked her to discontinue her conduct, she still found ways to taunt her victim. Took the liberty and instructed her to “not stay after 5:00, since there was no money”. We begged her to stop and told her it was affecting our business,since we needed someone to stay another hour, but she wouldn’t listen. By now she had created a toxic environment and blamed just about every error and problem on her abused victim, who by now was close to a nervous breakdown. When two clients alerted us of her disrespectful and unkind treatment of her colleage in their very presence – we let her go.

November 19, 2011 at 7:52 pm
(23) rosa says:

I’m glad that you stuck up for the person being victimized and saw through the former office manager’s obvious manipulative and sneaky behavior. I know that situations like this have occurred over and over in other work environments and all to often it seems like the mean person (like the former office manager) wins. It seems like so many in upper management believe the mean person because they are so convincing and manipulative. The upper management believes them when they say that the bullied person makes all the mistakes or when the mean person just flat out lies about them. Unfortunately, it seems like the mean people win all too often and get all the promotions! Just glad to hear that it didn’t happen in this case.

January 7, 2009 at 3:35 pm
(24) melinda says:

You have to remember the ADA. If this person really does have a “mental health” issue you may want to consult with a legal expert. If fired, she could have grounds for discrimination suit.

As harse as it sounds, you aren’t at work to make “friends.” The only thing your employer owes you is a pay check. If this woman isn’t doing her job, or allowing others to do theirs, then she should be terminated.

January 8, 2009 at 7:46 pm
(25) Gina says:

I had to deal with the same situation. Good employee, terrible attitude. During her review, I told her that it was obvious to me and to her coworkers that she was clearly unhappy working here and I wanted her to be happy. Her negative attitude was a “cancer” in the office. Since she seemed so unhappy, I offered to keep her employed, but over the next 90 days I would help her find a new job with another company better suited to her while she continues to work here. I told her I would start interviewing for her position immediately. I think the seriousness and the “scare” of being asked to leave made her realize that she needed to change…and change fast. Her coworkers have noticed a huge improvement. We are past the 90 days. She still works here.

March 11, 2009 at 3:58 pm
(26) Jonny says:

Attitude reflects leadership.
Typical postings here of typical middle management. Always the employee’s attitude being the problem right? Can’t fix THEM so I’ll fire them.

March 13, 2009 at 3:30 pm
(27) Deborah says:

Thanks, Athena, for asking the right question. The employee could have terrible personal issues (loss of spouse or parent, loss of home, etc.) that can’t be just “changed” or “improved”. Getting this person back up to par takes time and compassion. Too bad, employers, but if you’re doing the right thing, this is what you should want. My daughter lost her job because her boss expected her to leave her grief at the door during the first year after her dad died. SInce the first two years make you unable to think, focus, make decisions, remember or understand, she needed help- not to also suffer the loss of her job, too. Unless the boss takes the time to find out how the employee’s personal and emotional needs can be met within the framework of the job, this will happen. And what is that boss going to expect THEIR boss to do when the same thing happens to them? (And it WILL happen to everyone eventually!)

April 1, 2009 at 12:52 am
(28) randy says:

i have this kind of problem. she is a very good staff in terms of knowledge yet she is being hated by all by her attitude. what i did is conducted a seminar to all staff about customer and co-employee relation and ended up saying “YOU MAYBE BE SKILLFUL BUT WITHOUT GOOD RELATION WITH OTHER’S, YOU ARE STILL A WASTE. WITHOUT PIN POINTING HER SHE REALIZE IT and get back to the real track. i have strike two goals at one throw. i avoided the headache of terminating staff and correct what is wrong…sometime they just dont know the faults, you just have to teach them in a nice and professional way..

August 31, 2009 at 10:04 am
(29) kishia says:

behavior “firing” is a sticky place to go. You can assess a person on skills and based on omparison of fellow co-workers doign teh same job, BUT to fire someone on attitude alone? An HR issue. Most companies need to “talk” with that person several times, then give written warnings. After that MAYBE you can fire them.

October 6, 2009 at 6:45 pm
(30) Beth says:

Re-iterating the only point that makes sense here. I’ve worked in places that hire & fire 5 people a week. The attitude is “people are replaceable” and machines can do better. Thanks for posting Jonny.

Jonny says:
Attitude reflects leadership.
Typical postings here of typical middle management. Always the employee’s attitude being the problem right? Can’t fix THEM so I’ll fire them.

October 21, 2009 at 3:29 pm
(31) Stressed says:

Wow.. I read your question and sat there saying “check,” “check,” to all the qualities you listed… as qualities of my co-worker. Except, my co-worker isn’t talented, in fact she messes a lot of things up. I’m pretty sure she can barely read. I know for a fact she didn’t graduate high school or get a GED. I was browsing for information to discuss with my HR Manager when I meet with him. This will be personally my second time taking issues with my co-worker to HR. NOTHING seems to help. I’ve tried directly talking to her, talking to my boss, talking to my boss’ boss. It’s like talking to a nodding wall. Still immoble when you walk away! Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.. and neither are you!

November 5, 2009 at 11:10 am
(32) T Miller says:

I would first see what is at the heart of her behaviour. Maybe she feels that those on her team are just doing the minimum to stay employed but not really contributing or working as hard as she is. Firing is so touchy because while you are rid of the immediate problem, paying the unemployment of people whom you did not fire on grounds of refusal to work can be expensive over time.

November 9, 2009 at 11:31 am
(33) Sasha says:

I think what a lot of people here are missing are the words “she used to have a leadership position but no longer does”. It is obvious the “management” has done quite a bit to keep from firing her. The reader also went on to say “She has been spoken to about her constant gossip on the floor and negative attitude.” It seems that the employee is the one unwilling to change. How? She’s been demoted to a lesser position – not fired, but demoted. If that wasn’t a wake-up call, then the subsequent “talks” about her gossiping and negative attitude should have been.

At what point does managment stop being understanding? When she comes in with a hostile attitude and a weapon? Workplace violence is not just for men. The comments from the readers about “middle management just wanting to fire her” is so off the mark. If they really wanted to fire her, do you think they would have demoted her? NOT! Most companies would have done just that, let her go and find someone else to take her position.

How far into an employees personal life is management supposed to go? They’ve demoted her, counseled her and now if they feel there’s no recourse, then yes, let her go.

Think of it in terms like this…You open a bank account. You’ve managed that account pretty well but you get an overdraft. The bank says “Ok, this is a pretty good customer so we’ll pay this overdraft as a courtesy and waive the fee.” However, you have another one. They pay that one but charge you. You continue to overdraw your account. They stop paying your overdrafts, return your checks and charge you. Eventually, they decide they can no longer take the risk from you as a customer and close your account after several warnings about your excessive overdrafts.

No decent HR person wants to fire anyone. They will try to do everything they can to help the employee, but if she hasn’t gotten better after a demotion and counselling, then I say term her.

December 18, 2009 at 9:11 pm
(34) Indignant says:

What do you do about the supervisor who gossips about employees, discussing their medical conditions, plastic surgeries, and telling men to stay away from certain women in the office because they might be “litigious”? I complained to HR but it seems that the HR person thinks the supervisor’s sht doesnt stink. Well it does and I am becoming litigious. Should I sue?

February 6, 2010 at 3:30 pm
(35) Jacqueline Walters says:

Its bad to have a Boss comes to work 5 days a week intoxicated. Every day I wore a battery operated body spy viedo camera, I captured all the evidence on viedo. The Boss would walk past me droping remarks kicking one foot in the air, other days when she wears a flair skirt she would walk infront of me, and pick up her skirt and fling it towards my face showing her underwares. I had 2 battery operated viedo spy camera installed in my car, and three installed in my apartment. I collected viedo evidence where the Boss’s lynch mob slash all 4 tires of my car, they tampered with the engine. They picked the lock on my apartment door. Remove documents, master business certificates, citizenship certificate etc. they installed illegal wire tap on my land phone, they sabotaged my job search efforts with prank calls, they called jobs where I work with prank call to the switchboard and staff. I remained relax, calm and composed and enforce my own do it my self justice program. Thank God, for the experience and skills of a Deep Cover Plant, I made the right choice to hand down the sentences. The Employer often considered me to be the dumbest employee since the door bell. The Boss often refered to my as crazy. She lacks the fundamental techniques in handling employees, then how could she, she was always intoxicated.

August 10, 2010 at 11:16 am
(36) Emily says:

I agree with Stacy. Step up people. PEOPLE ARE NOT WASTE CASES. She is obviously terribly angry about losing her leadership position. Why was that? Was it her fault? Did she have any say in the matter. People are not machines – you cannot expect to have someone lose their identity like that an keep a positive attitude. Why don’t you have a talk and LISTEN to her and see if you can come to agreement. This is why organizations fail – you have old, outdated HR practices that treats people as if they are cogs in a machine. Empower them – see if there’s something – some goal she can work towards – that will give her HOPE. The woman has lost HOPE.

February 23, 2011 at 1:06 pm
(37) jorgina agilar... says:

…not all employees bearing such attitude deserves to be labeled in that manner…what if she only reflects the attitude of her mentors?

…at times if you are brave enough to tell whats on your mind specially your brave enough to speak up and tell what the real thing is, specially when your ” mentor/boss” is concern the best way for them to get ride of you is to fire you…

…you on the other hand seems to be the bad one and the real bad person gets his way out…

…its okey if they see and label someone as bad as that, for it truly hurts “you see your wrong doings with that persons attitude and actions!”.

May 27, 2011 at 10:07 am
(38) mina says:

totally agree with you Emily….there is a work cause of this behaviour, that’s what they should fix first the workplace politics

January 10, 2011 at 9:20 am
(39) Amy says:

I’d love to see her answer to this question.

February 25, 2011 at 3:26 pm
(40) Debbie says:

Believe it or not, people like her are called sabeteours and manipulators and liars the biggest part of the time. They should never get away with it, and should be nipped in the bud. I have worked with a lady who is lazy, and gossips 3/4th of the day away. Very pretty and has gotten away with it for 25 years, I believe she should have been fired 25 years ago.

April 17, 2011 at 9:13 pm
(41) Dogg says:

Oh man.. I wish most of the people on this page worked for my company’s HR team… My Manager has been trying to fire a co-worker for *6* years but instead HR tries to send him for counseling (key word: tries, the guy refuses to go), gives him paid leave, reduces his work schedule to 4 days a week (but pays him 5), gives him 40 sick days per year as well as a pay raise… If my Manager asks him to do something, he flat out REFUSES and literally sits there all day every day reading facebook, and chatting on forums.. He also makes $5+ more than anyone else on the team.

April 20, 2011 at 11:11 pm
(42) neelam says:

The lady who behaves like this wont be able to take the organization further, after all the employees are a great assest for any organization and they should be treated with due respect and there view point should be given value.Then,only the employees retention can be maintained and the organization can be on the progress track.That lady should be trained how to behave with the employees.

April 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm
(43) Will says:

“Attitude” is a general and arbitrary concept that is only manifest in specific behavior. You should never dispiline or fire an employee for “attitude,” instead, the discipline should specifically address the unacceptable/improper behavior. Here, it seems there is a lot of specific inappropriate behaviors that could (and should) be addressed through discipline in the form of warnings, suspensions, and/or termination.

By basing employment decisions on the employee’s specific negative behavior rather than a concept subject to arbitrary and subjective interpretation, you will establish an atmosphere of fairness which is vital for maintaining workplace morale.

May 6, 2011 at 4:00 pm
(44) Mr. B says:

It’s been said…negativity is hard to prove. In my case, the boss refuses to listen to the many staff who complain about this one individual. he is highly skilled and likely it would take a few resumes and interviews to replace him. Same old scenerio…gossip, backstabs, buries the boss’s name in the mud every chance he can, and when boss is in the room it’s “Yes sir, no sir and how are the kids?”
Blindness on behalf of the owner is one big issue in my case, as well as what can be proved (cameras might help)
The other day this clown spit in the boss’s dinner before sending it (yes, we work in the food biz) I tried to talk him out of it. He just smiled. I finally got the boss to not allow the food to be eaten (it was for his wife) I had to tell him why. He blew his stack initially, but said nothing. The next day I was fired. This guy had painted a beautiful story for the boss and convinced him that I was trying to spread a malicious lie. I was fired for mis-conduct. If that isn’t bitter irony, I don’t know what is. Some people really need help. and unfortunately, workplaces are plagued with them

May 6, 2011 at 4:07 pm
(45) Mr B. says:

To add one thing however…the whole scenerio is also evidence of loyalty…many staff members have called me to express their sorrow for my situation, and they know that it happened the way I described it to the boss initially. So it goes to show, if you treat people right, they will stand in your corner. A truth that so many more people should absorb. This is the one key to management.

May 18, 2011 at 12:12 am
(46) Alex says:

Is this woman using company time to track other people’s work activities? If so, is this in her job description? If not, then that is grounds for termination. She’s wasting company resources performing tasks outside of her job description.

August 1, 2011 at 7:36 pm
(47) john says:

bad attitude????

who wouldn’t have a bad attitude. being an employee sucks
why would anyone want to be an employee also known as a modern day wage slave. most jobs do not pay much, many managers in many companies do not care about their employees only keeping their own fat paychecks
The CEO’s/owners upper level management are only using the employees and lower level managers just to keep the company afloat to make profit
its all about the green. Its profit the bottom line.
Employees are only a necessary annoyance to the company.
Oh “just be greatful you have a job” this line is BS

People wake up, think outside the box, create your own income, the world is at your feet. Find a way to make passive income, and be FREE from all the nonsense of going to a office where they really do not care about you, clocking in and out on a machine that treats u like a number. the company is giving you the crumbs of the profit that they really make. They are USING YOU. WAKE UP

BAD ATTITUDE, i wonder why many employees have bad attitudes. in my opinion more employees should have bad attitudes. maybe then real change could happen. many employees are afraid to show their bad attitude at work for the fear of getting fired. Its called being passive aggressive. the bad attitude is just under the surface but is being repressed because the “scared” employee is afraid of their true potential in the real world

It all comes down to this, the rich are using the poor and pitting the poor and the working class against each other

so forget begging for a job and create your own passive income.

September 5, 2011 at 2:33 pm
(48) BMR says:

The lady was in leadership position that means the organization believed in her talent or else she would not have been in that position for sure. Moreover, the role of team members come into play here, how their attitude is towards her. She might be expecting positive results but the team might intentionally not want to contribute as much as she expects them to which can be referred to as office politics. This can take a toll on teams performance & directly related to her so called negative attitude though she is wanting to be positive. So, the senior management has to analyze the situation rightly before taking its decision.

September 8, 2011 at 10:06 pm
(49) Ash says:

In my opinion, performance should be valued slightly higher than “attitude”, or more specifically, coworkers’ reaction to an employee’s demeanor or words.
My advice: they should not be so sensitive, and challenge her, insult her back, clown her, give her a taste of her own medicine. Speaking through experience, this has worked the best for me. Once you insult a rude, insulting coworker (who’s nevertheless very good at his job), and have a good comeback he will respect you more and you will realize all the “negative” talk is really just harmless banter, jawing, something that is done between friends. And the best coworkers are ones who like each other.

While many believe that a polite, sterile, collectivist job environment is most effective, I disagree on this principle: while smoothness and a harmless social environment can help employees who are insecure, softening up the workplace too much reduces potency. When everyone is acting “fake” towards one another, there is less chemistry. When there is too much veneer, people are being dishonest.

Sure you could fire this lady, but when you hire a carebear with sugarcoated words and a very easygoing demeanor who doesn’t perform as well as her, you’re making a mistake.

And I say that because I believe quality>quantity. Many people believe otherwise, but I stand staunchly with this mantra.

So grow a thicker skin! Stop being so sensitive because there’s job that needs to be done!

December 11, 2011 at 2:28 am
(50) innocent christian youth says:

One has to wonder who, further up the chain, is protecting this person

December 21, 2011 at 1:08 am
(51) boat rocker says:

I’m a self admitted employee with a bad attitude. When I started my job 5 years ago I was very happy. I had a good relationship with everyone in the company. Two years ago the company hired a new Director who then increased our hours. Insisted on excessive overtime. Did not allow any sick time. Brought in his own group of people who it seemed did not have to follow the same rules as the rest of us. They were given easier work loads. The Director would yell and swear at us. I have also tried speaking to him about the pressures he has put on me as I was dealing with my mother dying, my husband having surgery, etc. He just said that this is the way the industry is and maybe I’m not cut out for this industry. I do my job very well. I sit quietly doing my job. Work overtime as much as I can. I always felt if I did my job a little better than everyone else there would be no reason for him to fire me. I do not feel I am poisoning anyone in the office. I feel the boss is doing that all by himself. I’m sure he feels that I don’t respect him because I don’t interact with him or go to any company functions. I have a couple of friends that I vent to who feel the same way as I do. I just don’t feel the need to be someone who is fake just to keep my job. My bad attitude is a direct result of how I’ve been treated. If companies do not want this sort of behavior from their employees they should take another look at themselves and how their behavior is affecting people.

January 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm
(52) Neil says:

Termination. First, meet with the employee to explain your expectations. Be direct and honest. If you need, re-write his/her job description Then, have weekly meetings with employee always highlighting gaps between your expectations and actual behavior. Document these meetings. Give him/her a copy with minutes of these conversations. Do this for 3 months and terminate him/her. After termination you may want to hire a good employee. There are a lot of good people out looking for a job these days.

April 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm
(53) SamaaFakhryAdams says:

Yes, she should get fired. Even though it won’t be recorded in her performance appraisal report because simply, she’s a conniving person who doesn’t show that attitude in front of her supervisors, but a few reports from her colleagues will do the job. Positive attitude is one of the most important things at work and, of course, leadership.

April 19, 2012 at 12:53 pm
(54) A Watt says:

It’s interesting that this person is described as being “good at her job”. Isn’t part of being good at one’s job being able to get along with coworkers? I would say that she might be good at some aspects of her job, but clearly not all aspects. I would make it clear to this employee in an appraisal that this is an aspect at which she is failing, and if she can’t resolve her difficulties in this respect, then she can no longer be considered a good employee.

April 19, 2012 at 12:54 pm
(55) Yola says:

Unfortunately those types of people are always somehow protected by management. I was in that exact situation with a coworker/supervisor and she would get away with anything. When no one was around she would bully me and make my life impossible to the point I would have to go to the restroom to cry, let it out, and come back. I tried complaining a few times to upper management and they protected her. I also heard from other people in the company she would mistreat everyone but when she was approached by higher mangaement she was a diffrent person and her attitude was completely the opposite. I ended up having to quit. Unfortunately, I heard that she is still in the company and doing the same thing to the person that replaced me.

April 19, 2012 at 1:02 pm
(56) Pat says:

It sounds like this employee is attempting to create her own culture, which isn’t the same as the organizations! I’m curious how having hidden cameras wasn’t sufficient to terminate her employment? As an employer, I certainly don’t trust this employee, no matter how good she is. I’d probably take the approach with her that although she may be frustrated with her fellow employees, she’s not empowered to discipline or make changes yet her actions have shown otherwise. (Make sure you’re documenting everything…) A solid sit-down conversation with HR, the manager or supervisor, is in order and she needs to be told that she needs to make the decision whether she wants to “be on the ship or off”? She holds the power and warn her that if she demonstrates further actions to the contrary…then you’ll have to help her make that decision.

April 19, 2012 at 1:44 pm
(57) Jeremy Heidenreich says:

Fire. We had the same situation here, and once we made the decision to let her go, the whole team’s attitude improved along with job satisfaction and employee productivity. She was an At-Will Employee and it’s easier to make that decision in that case of course.

We also hire to Company Values. If you’re not adhering to the values you will not last at our company.

April 19, 2012 at 1:48 pm
(58) Caro says:

I think she is toxic, and needs to be fired. I don’t know if different states would have different requirements – but I would think you could let her know that her treatment of fellow employees, insubordination to management, and general poor attitude are not acceptable; that if these issues do not change, it is grounds for dismissal. Discuss in a meeting, and hand her a memo that recaps that, and require her signature.

April 19, 2012 at 3:05 pm
(59) Lisa says:

She should have been fired when it was discovered she was using security cameras to monitor people.

April 19, 2012 at 5:35 pm
(60) Mary says:

“angry all the time”, “used her authority to bully”, “make personal records of everyone’s activities”, “her constant gossip”. THESE CAN LEAD TO SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES; A HOSTILE, UNHEALTHY AND UNSAFE ENVIROMENT FOR HERSELF AND OTHERS. NOT TO MENTION THE LEGAL CONSEQUENCES THAT MAY ARISE. IT IS OBVIOUS THAT THERE COULD BE OTHERS WHO ARE THE GOOD LISTENERS TO THE “constant gossip”. WHERE IS THE PROFESSIONAL CONDUCT, THE WORK ETHICS, THE CONFIDENTIALITY ISSUE? YOU SHOULD BE THINKING ABOUT THE OVERALL VIOLENCE THAT THIS BEHAVOUR MAY CREATE AND THE CONSEQUENCES THAT IT MAY HAVE ON YOUR COMPANY. HAVING SUCH NEGATIVE ATTITUDE DAMAGES THE MORALE OF OTHER STAFF AND CREATES A BAD WORKING CULTURE. THE WORD “BULLY” IS DANGEROUS. YOU MUST WARN THIS EMPLOYEE, SHOULD SHE CONTINUE HER BEHAVIOUR SHE IS OUT ON THE 3RD WARNING.

April 19, 2012 at 10:29 pm
(61) Goyte says:

This is somebody I used to know. Myself – with qualifiers.
We don’t know the true reasons for this person’s behaviour but don’t give up on the person. Maybe they have been bullied in return, maybe they simply need time to grow and accept the change, but in all likelihood, they are indeed very capable and have skills that are not being used to the best advantage of the individual or company.
I previously worked for a bully manager. I was acused of being the bully, I was demoted, and the new position I was in was then abolished so I was transferred to a new section. This bully has now been dismissed after the next duck in the row got axed after I moved on.
My corporate grumpiness lasted much longer than my personal values would have liked, but due to my situation and the lack of empathy shown by management in the organisation, c’est la vie. The irony of this bully being dismissed is of little consolation to the two years of my career that were wrecked and the gradual recovery time for my attitude.
Arguably, I’m actually better off now, and MUCH more productive to the organisation than I was before all of this. Partly because I am given the freedom to actually achieve and grow to my full potential and not be hemmed in, and partly because I went through a process where I realised what is really important about MY passion for work.
I have also gained much insight into the organisation and I still think we do some of the most Dilbert things organisationally – see “how to ruin employee trust” on this very website – we tick most of those. I still see lots of pathetic politics, sucking up, game playing and boys/girls club stuff happening, I’m just much more humoristic about it rather than being bitter and angry about it because I am given fertiliser and water and left to grow and produce under a new manager.
At the end of the day give that person time and get them help, they are a human being, not a corporate robot.
Just somebody that I used to know….

April 20, 2012 at 12:48 am
(62) Sushil Warekar says:

I think most of the negative minded persons have a depressed mind.
It is better to talk straight to her and find out what it is that makes her venom come out most frequently. She should be given a chance to change with a definite time frame. Let her understand that leadership comes from follower and with their clean respect for the leader. Make her aware about why she is being sidelined by her superiors and co-workers. She should leave her negativity and work with clean mind and must appreciate others, also. If she finds herself so far superior to others, that does not mean that she should insult them. Rather she should provide training to them to achieve the same excellence. This will give her natural leadership and everybody will start following instead of complaining. If she is not willing to change, it will be better to have a planned exit for her with due care in legal compliance.

April 20, 2012 at 12:44 pm
(63) Lise B. says:

Employers have an obligation to provide an environment that is safe from harassment and discrimination; this can include poisoning the work environrment. Depending on the type of behaviour, it could be investigated by the employer under health and safety legislation or under human rights legislation (hopefully the employer has policies relating to this as well), either way the employer has an obligation to at least look into the effect on the work environment. Also, under these pieces of legislation, employees can be disciplined for conduct that is deemed harassing or discriminatory.

April 23, 2012 at 6:56 am
(64) sam wang says:

I think that if there is a bad lady in your company, you’d better fire her. Because in large part she will influence people to not do their work and reduce your company’s profits and the fame of your company. For instance, if someone did something perfectly, she will be jealous. I think it’s a bad idea to treat this kind of person with other innocence people.

May 14, 2012 at 2:02 pm
(65) keith says:

Something has made her negative. Investigate the other employees to figure the problem out. A lot of people put into management positions aren’t skilled enough or they favor co-workers. She might make less money and carry the load and is sick of it. People just don’t come to work negative. She probably is being used and abused and isn’t being recognized for her skills and devotion. There are two sides to every story. I say pull her to the side, allow her to vent her issues, and she might just make you aware of what needs to be done with the entire department. Problem is, with that being said, every boss or manager thinks he or she knows everything and doesn’t want to be told so it’s a no win situation! It’s an overall management problem with treating employees fairly.

November 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm
(66) Nancy says:

I work with a woman who is a toxic-thought dweller and constantly belittles anyone who she doesn’t like for petty reasons. She has gone up to HR many times and even made false allegations about me – as one of the ones she doesn’t like. I feel like I am in grade-school. She constantly goes around telling other people I am a retard and a weirdo. She makes comments about what I am wearing and my hairstyle or/if I’m wearing a little too much make-up. Now I am learning a new job. I am doing pretty good on it. I admit I have my strong points and my weak points but;”RETARD” – that is very mean spirited and slanderous. I am a state worker and it’s very hard to sue the state for false allegations being made. And this person has tried to pit everyone in the office against me. The bosses never seem to be around when she does this. I stay far away from her because I find her behavior in poor-taste and she has no-class! I also have a few disabilities, one is Diabetes. None of these people ever got to know me. All of this has done a number on my health issues and I’m going for early retirement in 4 years. The supervisors really should put an end to all of this gossip and rumors – afterall we are just there to do a job – not spread or listen to rumors. Does anyone have any suggestions? Oh this woman spreading the nasty rumors about me watches me all night long and makes rude comments – which is also harassment.

December 11, 2012 at 7:36 pm
(67) Jim says:

Move them next to their manager.

January 15, 2013 at 10:35 pm
(68) Jennifer says:

1) I used to share an office space with this girl. I trained her on everything, and she would always ask, “are you sure?” She would ask this question every time she learned something new. It is quite annoying. She will find ways to push your buttons and make herself look good and make you look bad. Also, you know those fire drill speaker phones, where the guy warns that this is a fire drill, she is that loud, and if she is on the phone for a personal call, you cannot concentrate on your work or hear your own thoughts. Actually I got an ear infection while I was sharing an office with her. My ear doctor said it was due to loud sounds. I never had an ear infection before. I have requested to not sit next to her, and now we do not sit near each other. I have not gotten another ear infection ever since. But she still asks, “are you sure.”
2) My current manager, which I sit in front of her office, is always on the phone talking very loudly on personal calls, and she does not bother closing the door. I would say that the whole day she is talking on the phone, and she would take breaks. There are times if I made a mistake, she would come out of the office and say, it is…..so and so fault’s… so loud that everyone can hear. If she is cc’ed on emails, she does not even know what the email is about and would ask me to explain. She can’t read above elementary school level.

Should these 2 types of employees be evaluated?
Should I keep my anger in or vent to other coworkers?
How do you think these kinds of employees may affect my productivity or sense of well-being?

March 16, 2013 at 12:17 pm
(69) skeptical says:

“This person used to have a leadership position but no longer does.”

I will make a statement with a question – “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

Quite often a person is removed from a leadership position that he or she had worked hard to get into — and may have been doing a great job in that as well, and then – is replaced due to consolidation, or favoritism, or nepotism, or due to other office politics.

When a career path is derailed due to politics, or a pass-over, it does foster negativity by anyone affected by something like that.

Especially if it’s evident — or the person who was affected thinks it to be so — that the person promoted wasn’t as capable as him/herself.

I have seen personnel decisions made — “Betty can do this job”, “Freddy’s my guy, he was my frat bro”, “Susie made a good impression in the interview, so let’s demote Bill, and give her his job”… generates bad morale and often shows lousy judgement.

Not saying this was the case here — but I’ve seen bad moves made in my years in the business world — and such bad moves result in this payback.

March 21, 2013 at 5:45 am
(70) Ben says:

Sounds like this person is good at her job and doesn’t respect working with incompetent people… Why would you hire incompetent staff is the question.

March 22, 2013 at 7:38 am
(71) Mary says:

Just can’t hear one side and decide about the attitude problem.

April 6, 2013 at 8:45 am
(72) BadAttitude says:

So many people saying fire them right now without hearing THE OTHER SIDE of the story. What ever happened to presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty?

Often people who are threatened by a good performer attack their personality. Nobody’s perfect and anything you say can be twisted around. They react and are labelled a bully. Yes ask yourself why is the person so negative?

May 19, 2013 at 10:44 am
(73) Susa says:

In reading these comments, I’ve noticed a lot of negative remarks about older workers (especially women). Could some comments be based on “geriaphobia”, a fear and loathing of older people?

June 4, 2013 at 4:45 pm
(74) PigbitinMad says:

I want to know if this person was always like this. The reason I ask is that she sounds like me after two newbies were promoted with big pay raises after I had done a good job for five years and been constantly told, “I wish I could give you a raise.” Problem was, my honeymoon period just did not coincide with the money being freed up. The only difference was that I never threw my coworkers under the bus. I was even told my superior was a difficult micromanager with obsessive compulsive disorder. She still backed him up. I was the “go to” person whenever anyone had a dumb computer problem. Then I got a performance review score in the “technology” category that was lower than the coworker to whom I TAUGHT EVERYTHING. (Why do bosses have such selective memories?) I had to deal with all sorts of rotten people at once. People who treat their new little favorites better than those who have been around awhile are bad managers. They conveniently forget everything they promised. Also there was another psychotic witch in accounting who would change the rules daily. When you got it in writing you still got yelled at for doing it all wrong. Yes, I developed into a rotten, toxic, malicious gossip spreading employee. Who wouldn’t? Then I quit, giving the least amount of notice possible. They not only chased me out of that job, but they chased me right out of the state. Oh, and did I mention that the two people who were promoted were both in their twenties (and my supervisor even said he found them “attractive” while I was over 40).

Sometimes Bosses should really look in the mirror.

July 8, 2013 at 1:01 am
(75) Wes says:

Documentation is king. Policies and procedures need to be followed and many people are afraid to document but if you don’t the issue doesn’t exist.

Often times in HR people will come to me with complaints but our organization has P&P and I refer to those first, chain of command and documentation. 9 times out of 10 people refuse to put anything in writing.

July 8, 2013 at 8:06 pm
(76) Human Nature? says:

It’s interesting, you know, some of the comments about this woman being a person and having feelings and all that kind of stuff… You know, being human and female myself… I get it. But what I don’t get is how one person could and should be allowed to “feel their feelings” at the expense of others.That’s not fair. It’s true that we should probably get her side of the story before making a true judgment. But in all honesty, it’s kind of hard for me to care what her side of the story is because her behavior, regardless of how she feels, is irritating and infantile. I seriously doubt that all these different types of people ganged up on her and worked that hard to get her demoted (although stranger things have happened)… It’s kind of like dealing with a drug addict, they get to do whatever they want while everyone else around them suffers and then they get to do drugs to numb away their feelings! It’s not right. If she was screwed over, she should figure out a way to deal with it, if not, all the more reason to get rid of her.

July 18, 2013 at 10:44 am
(77) James F. Vogel says:

Has anyone ever thought that just maybe she might actually have a liable gripe ?? In my work place I have a person who sets people up to cover for his/her mistakes and failings. Everything is great, if I do not retort. Once I open my mouth to ask anything about any situation that involves those persons all hell breaks loose! I am told that I am the troublemaker and that I am 5 years old and that I am the weak link and that I am the reason that no one else gets along….. If only I (me) had that kind of power! Imagine what I could do with it! Sometimes people that grumble do this because they have no one they can rely on to help them. Such is me. I make mistakes and I own up to them. I do not try to deceive but others inform others that I am not to be trusted because ……… This really angers me that the supposed leaders of this company cannot see who the real culprits are …..Talk to her. I’ll bet she’s not up set for the reasons you are led to believe she is….

July 29, 2013 at 11:23 pm
(78) Anonymous says:

Yes, definitely, even though she is a very good worker, if you don’t, her toxic attitude is going to affect the other employees, and soon enough, the other employees will have had enough of her shit, and leave. As in QUIT!
So as I see it, if you don’t, you will lose many other very good employees just like her ( minus the attitude ) and all you will be left with is a snotty employee who sooner or later is going to start getting lazy on her work and start bullying you! And all because you decided to keep her and her toxic attitude because she was a good employee, or so it seemed.

August 1, 2013 at 11:28 am
(79) Liaquat Ali Mugheri says:

Attitude effect is 10% and performance effective is 90%, so attitude will change or improve through experience, so attitude doesn’t matter.

August 5, 2013 at 10:42 am
(80) what now? says:

what if the direction of the anger or negative behavior is mostly towards the supervisor but the person behaves well with most others… occasionally slipping but not enought for anyone to take a risk and report her openly. I get the usual complaints with no one wanting to step up. Regardless of how many times I’ve opened up and asked what the problem is, the body language and response is closed with no room to develop the issue. She’s a great employee when it comes to productivity but she only treats some people well some of the time.

August 6, 2013 at 12:07 am
(81) omegle girls says:

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August 30, 2013 at 4:13 pm
(82) Questions says:

The blame falls on a higher ranking manager or VP. The company may not be willing to look at why this person might be angry or if other employees are baiting/pitting people against each other. If there is gossip other dynamics are involved.

Let’s look at the present supervisor that took her job. Maybe that person is just not qualified or can’t communicate. There is going to be a significant loss if that person is fired.

“So, this angry and negative person does a very good job.” How many employees are that good? What if she ends up working for the competition? If she is gone will that really correct the problem?

“She is always at work, always on time.” This is a trait an employer looks for in all employees. Is she at work and on time when others are always missing or late? Always having to carry the load for others could cause anger and resentment.

This employee is an alarm that something is wrong. If the company chooses to ignore it the problem will not go away. I would make this employee feel safe to speak freely and try to negotiate a solution or severance package.

There is not enough info here to understand the root of the problem. If you avoid it, the infection will grow. Therefore, higher management either knows about the issues and avoids it, or is clueless. Either way that is the real problem.

October 28, 2013 at 11:26 am
(83) Ron Boyke says:

Although it is sometimes necessary, when did firing become the only solution? There are many fine classes on attitude, however, companies tend to not use them. Why, it saves on stress leave payments. Napoleon Hill, Jeffrey Gitomer, etc. all do effect positive change. In-person classes, virtual training and coaching all combine to ensure our people are as productive and happy as possible. Invest in your people. Considering the cost of firing and re hiring, why not try a less costly option, positive attitude coaching. :)

November 5, 2013 at 9:05 am
(84) Kathy says:

I am wondering what is going on in her life. Very often if we embrace a person, actually care about them to a point that they will trust us, we find there is more going on than meets the eye. If, as a manager, you are not capable of caring for the person first and the job second, you will ALWAYS have a second rate team! I once went back to an employer who had to lay me off at one point and did some “free” training. That boss had treated me with respect and AGONIZED when he had to lay me off to the point that he could barely look at me. When he finally came out and told me and my reaction was acceptance and respect equal to what he showed me, life was fine. In the end, he surprised me with a contractor check for that time but that was not the norm. I say, look at the relationship that person has with her manager, coach her, embrace her. It will pay off ten fold.

November 5, 2013 at 9:43 am
(85) Masoud says:

I guess. If we also have the attitude that everyone who is negative at a workplace we will fire… Then I guess the HR job will be consumed all the time in firing employees.

November 5, 2013 at 11:24 am
(86) JERRY says:

MAYBE IT’S MORE BASIC THAN IT SEEMS, MAYBE IT’S NOT WORK THAT CREATES THAT ANGER, MAYBE ITS AT HOME.
WHO KNOWS, SHE’S ONLY HUMAN.

November 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm
(87) creece says:

“Having to carry the loads of others who are always late” and just taking the company as their collective milking cow. This is a very bad organization. So happy I’m out of it.

November 6, 2013 at 4:20 am
(88) Mark says:

I completely disagree with the idea of firing this employee. Instead, assign some complex task to her that is worth her time and befitting her abilities. You have a talent you are wasting and you are judging her by your own limit perspective of her. Look at it from her perspective. She is doing what she needs to do to survive in the workplace. If you have an angry cat, you can shoot her or find ways to calm her. Perhaps she deserves a better manager.

December 13, 2013 at 5:47 am
(89) sadanand says:

No termination, since the HR team has diagnosed her attitude very clearly. Find some medicine for cure. Like take her personnel file, look whether there is some grey areas in her personal life or previous official life. if not, sit with her for a meeting, be a mirror for her and tell her all her negatives, she will definitely come out with some cause which makes her do all theses things and tell her the consequence of the same attitude.

Advise her accordingly, tell her to believe humans, and transfer her to some other Business unit for an observation, you can seriously see wonders in her.

December 24, 2013 at 2:48 am
(90) paul says:

I have been working in a company for a long time. I am skill-full guy at my workplace and do what is best for the company’s interest. But, on the other hand, other co-workers are bullying, cursing and swearing at me all the time. I have reported that problem to hr but nothing changed so far. I have been written off two times for that and now I am going through the same situation again. My point is that my supervisor has never liked me and always gossips behind my back and created bad impression of me with others. What I find that management is always supportive for me as my supervisor does not have supervisor skills, never gets along with people on the floor, people always criticizing about him. But, he got management’s upper hand and still working for a long time instead of people complained about him to the management or human resources. My question is that how can you protect your job if management and human resources are not helping you. Our human resourcess says doors are open for employees for any concern or dispute. Is there any way i can hire another lawyer outside of my workplace or any agency or ministry of labour can help me out of this. I will be appreciate for your help. Because i can lose my job.

February 11, 2014 at 9:41 am
(91) Lara says:

Most companies find the easy way out. Unfortunately, this easy way out is also the reason why companies fail. You don’t give up on your people. When there is a problem, look for the cause. Firing is easy. Companies do it all the time. How many companies do we see that put effort in solving people problem? No. They want the easy way out. Just fire them. When employees have problems at work, it’s likely you have an organizational problem that you do or don’t want to address.

February 15, 2014 at 2:47 am
(92) karen says:

Anyone showing hostile work must be shown the door

February 21, 2014 at 8:49 am
(93) Jason says:

There is a lot of well intentioned but bad advice here.

First, to be clear an employer can terminate any employee at any time. It is simply a matter of proper notice, providing the termination was not done on discriminatory grounds. When most people talk about termination, they mean termination “for cause” in which the employee is given no notice and no severance.

In many jurisdictions you simply can not terminate someone for cause on the grounds that they have a “bad attitude.” This is a non-specific charge that the courts do not recognize, and is considered code for bad faith termination and subject to the penalties associated with a wrongful dismissal suit.

A company should have written standards of employee conduct that clearly establish unacceptable behaviours. The standards should state what behaviours are unacceptable (ie. making vexatious comments to others), why they are prohibited (ie. a form of harassment that is disrepsectful and undermines employee morale), and what the consequences of those behaviours will be (progressive discipline, up to and including termination of employment).

Employees should then be held accountable to the standards in exactly the same manner as they would be held to account for other performance matters. Employees who do not conform to standards generally have the right to be warned about their behaviour and the consequences of not correcting it, before getting terminated.

Organizations do need to be careful and consistent. If the company has a written standard of conduct, but they generally do not enforce it, the courts will consider the policy ineffectual because you have tacitly approved of the negative behaviour.

In summary, it is important to hold employees accountable to a reasonable, established, and consistently practiced standard necessary for the company to function effectively. Employees who do not perform to such a standard, in spite of fair warning, are subject to a legitimate for cause dismissal.

February 23, 2014 at 1:53 pm
(94) Robrina says:

I wish you could just fire someone for their attitude. My employee requested something of me. I declined. She fed my supervisor with a host of lies that were never shared with me. I was shocked about the allegations made to my supervisor. When we met with my supervisor at the same time and repeated what was said about me, it was all found not to be true. While nothing can be done about someone maliciously telling untruths, it still is a sad day when you learn that nothing can be done. My supervisor is a non-confrontational manager, so that employee sees that anything can be done or said and nothing will happen. So disheartening.

February 23, 2014 at 2:08 pm
(95) Dan says:

OK,
So why is it that this lady should be terminated? How come she is no longer holds her title? This was not explained in the story. I’m sure something or someone must have caused her to respond this way, which was not explained in the story.

I don’t know this lady, nor am I on her side, but those of you who feel she should be fired, due to her gossip behavior. Put yourself in her shoes and answer the questions I’ve asked above first, before you make that stupid decision of yours.

February 23, 2014 at 3:46 pm
(96) Barbara says:

Behavior is a part of doing a good job. Remember how employers now focus on behavioral interviewing. However, if you can quantify the damage the behavior is doing to your business then that is better. If an employee’s behavior is disrupting your business operations then let them go. But you should always document everything you do to try to help them. It is not the employer’s responsibility to have this person diagnosed as mentally ill or not. Do you have an Employee Assistance Program? What does your employee manual say about behavior? You can use that as a grounds for dismissal. It sounds like this person should take the initiative and find another job since she has poisoned her well for her future at this company.

February 23, 2014 at 11:12 pm
(97) Ram says:

It is not entirely impossible to change such a person but it will take lots of efforts. Since the organization where she works is not in the business of counseling and training, her continued presence will slowly destroy the organization. So she should be fired appropriately, no matter how good she is in her individual performance. After all it is the team performance that matters to an organization.

February 24, 2014 at 1:34 am
(98) Norbert Masanja says:

The first step would be of counseling… It works well provided that the person appointed to do so is trusted by the employee in question.

February 24, 2014 at 4:20 am
(99) Iddi A says:

I like John’s submission. Competence, that is the ability to perform effectively on your job task is a collective of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Knowledge and skills can easily be improved through training. However, attitude borders on human behaviour which is not easy to understand and influence. The worker has attitudinal problems, which in my view, affects her performance and that of her coworkers. In all, it affects organisational performance. My suggestion is that she needs feedback on her behaviour from all staff. This can be done in a formal team building process purposely targeting her weakness that may make her reflect and change. Beyond that, if she does not change, then she has to be fired. There are more competent people out there to hire.

February 25, 2014 at 1:38 am
(100) Grace says:

I agree with some of the comments, most especially on embracing team building exercises and perhaps engaging a Psychologist.

This lady might be having psychological issues, whatever it is she is displacing it to others or may be a perfectionist and not trusting others.

Someone should help her deal with the issues rather than victimizing her.

As Iddi puts, attitude borders on human behaviour which is not easy to understand and influence, but I know a Psychologist would help unravel the hidden problems.

February 28, 2014 at 9:26 am
(101) Roy says:

Did you hire her for sunshine and lolli pops or for her work? If she’s doing her job, shes doing what you hired her for. An attitude is a personal thing and is not part of what you are paying her for. She has a Constitutional right to speak her mind and hold her opinion. Why are companies becoming thought police more and more?? Since when does a boss or HR have the right to silence people’s opinions? You may not like her opinion any more than she likes your fascistic attempts at controlling her, however, she has the right, you don’t. If you allow free interchange of ideas, and discussions, regardless of how unsavory they are, you will have a much happier work force that will perform much better. In addition, there are probably others that feel the same as her but are not vocal. this method will also alleviate their concerns and give them a voice.

March 26, 2014 at 7:36 am
(102) Merri Ferrell says:

Dismissing an employee with a bad attitude has nothing to do with being the “thought police.” A toxic employee who intentionally divides staff and creates a negative work environment brings down the entire operation. I have such a staff member and the results of her actions not only influence other staff, but also me–they have become insubordinate, factious and unproductive. It is a burden to work under such circumstances, and people who find fault with others, who snipe and gossip and complain against co-workers or management, seldom are accountable for their own actions. They also contribute to a loss of focus of the mission. Everyone sinks to a state of misery and discontent. And it causes a lot of stress. Disgruntled employees find a way to sabotage work. They need to be fired not only to remove them from the work place but for the sake of existing and future staff.

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