Coaching a bad attitudeNo matter how good we are at hiring and motivating a team, there almost always comes a time when we have to deal with an employee who has a less-than-stellar attitude. Coaching a bad attitude, I find, is one of the more challenging aspects of management.
A bad attitude is hard to quantify, and the person in question often doesn’t agree that there is an issue. However, if you don’t address and turn that attitude around it can spread throughout the team, affecting teamwork, the customer experience, and ultimately sales.
Here are some tips for coaching an employee with a bad attitude.
1. Address the problem as soon as it arises. Everyone can have a bad day, including you and me. It happens. But when it happens on a regular basis and starts to have an impact on the team and the customer, then it’s a bad attitude that needs addressed. Some managers hope it goes away without his/her involvement. It rarely does.
2. Separate the person from the attitude. Just because someone has a bad or disruptive attitude doesn’t mean he/she isn’t a good person. It just means that his/her behavior is not meeting the expectation within the position, but with your coaching hopefully the person will be able to stop demonstrating those behaviors.
3. Identify the behaviors you see and hear that add up to a bad attitude. This is really the key. Most people aren’t even aware that their attitude is affecting the store, and a lot of them don’t even know what they are doing to cause a negative impact.
These are some of the things you see and hear that create the bad attitude label.
* Being argumentative or short with others.
* Speaking negatively about other people or of new products, programs, and/or processes.
* Not being an active participant in meetings or in the store.
* Walking away while others are talking to them.
* Having improper or inappropriate conversations with customers.
4. Meet one-on-one to voice your concerns and set new expectations. Tell the employee you are concerned about his/her performance, and need to see some changes in behaviors. Avoid using the word “attitude” altogether. I think it makes people defensive and gets in the way of a productive conversation.
Share specific examples of the behaviors you’ve observed, and how those behaviors are impacting the rest of the team and the store’s performance. Then, set future expectations of the behavior you want to see. Don’t focus on what not to do, but what you want the person to do. It’s also often a good idea to put together a plan covering how you can work with the employee to successfully make the change.
5. Define the consequence for not changing. Most people will immediately improve their behavior, but some won’t change unless there is a well-defined time frame to change, and the consequences for not changing are clearly spelled out. The good news is that a dedicated employee who slipped into a bad attitude will quickly turn it around. Those that don’t probably are hurting your business in other ways and may need to go.
6. Continue to give the employee regular feedback on how they’re doing in meeting expectations. If the employee is improving, praise him/her for the changed behaviors and thank her/him for their effort. If expectations are not being met, the person needs to be told immediately, and work towards changing behaviors or changing jobs. What they can’t do is to continue to work with a bad attitude.