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Susan M. Heathfield

Poisonous Attitude: Reason to Fire an Employee?

By May 21, 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?"

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