Tag Archives: morale


Incompetent and lazy employees are easy to spot and fire but there are borderline personality traits and behaviors which are harder to spot and have a cancerous effect on company performance, attitude, and morale.

No one is perfect. Some gossip occasionally, harshly criticize the leadership or employee sometimes, say that’s not my job instead of I am not qualified to do it, blame someone else for under performing themselves, and try to take credit for another’s effort. If someone does this frequently then it is a sign of a corrosive dysfunctional employee who should be fired before such dysfunctional or bad behavior eats away at company performance, attitude, and morale.

Insults, put downs, name calling, ridiculing, and humiliation should be minimal on the job and anyone who relishes and persists in these attacks on employee reputations is not a good fit for the company.

Then there are the marginal lazy ones who do just enough to get by and use phrases such as “you are working too hard and making us all look bad” or “take it easy, what’s the rush?”.

Now a boss or manager is usually in charge of hiring and firing an employee. Whatever gossip there is circulates mostly among the employees and harsh criticism of the boss is seldom done to his or her face. Taking credit for another’s efforts is not always obvious to the boss and personality clashes between employees are also sometimes not that obvious to the one in charge. Further complicating open lines of communication is the difference in managing a handful of employees and twenty or more.

Feedback from a handful of employees is easier to get than from twenty or more so it is easier for a dysfunctional employee to fly under the radar if the boss is in charge of twenty or more employees. What a smart boss may need is one or more trusted long time experienced employees to act as his ears and eyes and inform him or her of any problematic employees. In prison such humans are called rats or spies but in a reputable business or company of large size you may need a handful of trusted informers to help keep track of what is really going on in the company and being held secret from the one in charge.

A boss or manager with emotional intelligence is the ideal with as much one on one communication as possible. The more employees there are the more remote and lesser becomes the one on one contact which is important in many leadership positions. Total reliance on an informer is also not advisable and when informed of a problematic employee the boss should make personal one on one contact and get the facts straight if at all possible before making a decision to threaten or fire a problematic employee.

Whatever the size of the employee count, a good boss or manager will keep as up to date and informed on potential personality problems as is realistically possible whether through personal effort alone or with the help of trustworthy informers. Feedback from trustworthy informers will help spot cancerous employees to be fired before their dysfunctional behavior spreads and starts to destroy company performance, attitude, and morale.

Yes, there are many minimum wage jobs with a high employee turnover where the biggest problem is finding employees who show up on time to work, who don’t do drugs, and who are capable of working hard on a reliable regular basis. This article is not meant as a valid source on how to manage or boss and pinpoint problem employees to be fired in high employee turnover businesses.

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Negative attitude word cloud concept

This is a reworded article gotten from the basic ideas in Insperity’s blog “A Practical Guide to Managing Difficult Employees.”

Common ways bad destructive employees affect the workplace:

They lower employee morale, reduce productivity, decrease other employee’s performance, decrease the quality and profit of the business, and are a legal liability.

Types of bad destructive employees and what to do about them:

The overly emotional employee:

Speak to the employee immediately if he or she shouts, slams doors, throws things, argues with others in a loud tone of voice, and uses profanity.

Confront and talk to the overly emotional employee but try to avoid sentences beginning with the word YOU which sounds accusatory and will put the employee immediately on the defensive. Instead start with a question such as what did you shout about, what was the loud argument about, or what was the reason for using a harsh profanity?

Everyone is entitled to one emotional outburst once in a while but if it becomes frequent then suggest weekly private meetings where frustrations can be vented or discussed before another angry explosion occurs in the workplace. Emphasize the importance of keeping a cool head in the workplace because it annoys, shocks, troubles, and interrupts or disrupts other employee morale and performance. You definitely don’t want a repetitive emotional time bomb working for you for very long.

The bullying employee or manager:

Ranting and raving at another in a pushy manner on a regular basis is one way that someone tries to assert power or dominance over others. This attempt at intimidation will anger others and affect or decrease the morale and performance in the workplace.

Some managers use this scare tactic to try to get performance out of others and if it sometimes succeeds workwise it will still decrease the respect and morale of the employee.

A manager who spreads gossip, criticizes too often, yells, name calls, puts down, belittles, humiliates, ridicules, and insults will not be respected very much and morale will suffer. If the manager excludes employees from projects as punishment or takes credit for another’s work then this too will decrease morale.

If the manager is a bully then only higher ups may be able to do something about it. In the case of an employee it is important to get the details of the bullying in a calm and collected fashion from both parties before suggesting ways to radically decrease or hopefully eliminate the bullying.

The repetitive naysayer:

Most naysayers offer advice on why a project won’t work but often don’t offer alternatives and this can lead to team effort grinding to a halt. A pessimistic attitude can affect the whole team and beyond to other departments too.

Confront an employee with repetitive negativity and try to find out if there are personal problems which are possibly affecting his or her decision making process. Make sure to document by being specific and accurate in detail all the negative instances to avoid the possibility of discrimination or harassment suits. Say that an employee has trouble working in group situations rather than stating that someone is a trouble maker and doesn’t get along with teammates.

The social butterfly:

Being very sociable is only bad if deadlines are not met or work is not getting done. Confront the employee and give specific examples of how excessive talking is affecting the work. Try to get the employee to socialize less and perhaps channel this sociability by letting him or her spend time on social events for the office such as planning office parties or leading a welcoming committee for new workers.

In conclusion, being extremely emotional, a bully, a naysayer, and a social butterfly once in a while will cause no great harm to an organization but if the behavior is habitual or very repetitive then detailing the episodes with good documentation and firing the employee is a logical thing to do to avoid poisoning the morale and productivity of the entire workforce.

3 important management mistakes that anger employees:

  1. Engaging in very emotional confrontations.

Fiery arguments are the worst case scenario since cool, calm discussions are preferable by a mile.

If you are conveying bad news to an employee then it is important to start off on a positive note and make sure it is a private one to one meeting and not a session which other employees can hear.

Read the employee body language and pay close attention as you deliver the bad news in a truthful, factual, helpful, inspiring, and kind way. Above all be courageous, factual, calm, and private.

  1. Undervaluing employees or not giving credit where credit is due and not thanking them for their important contributions.

Praise and acknowledgment for work well done is important in any job but in teamwork what is further important is to acknowledge an employee’s impact on business success and trying to mentor them by giving them challenging new tasks on projects, encouraging them to attend workshops and join professional organizations, and help them develop a plan to reach their goals within the organization.

Along the way it is important to try and reward their efforts with special perks such as lunch with the boss where personal issues can be discussed, giving company apparel or nicknacks such as a shirt with a company logo, and extending certain privileges such as VIP parking. Impromptu time off such as showing up late for work or quitting work early can also be good motivating rewards.

Making office space available for peer to peer recognition and kudos with high fiving can also be a motivational reward.

  1. Finally, leaving an employee in isolation from boss and other employees is one of the most unmotivational things that you can do and work performance will suffer as well as the employee morale.

Try to create an open door policy with adequate feedback from an employee where he or she can air grievances or frustrations, make suggestions, report on work progress, ask questions or seek advice, share concerns and work issues, and make contacts with other employees.

An open trusting respectful relationship between boss and employees and between employees themselves is the primary goal which one should strive to achieve in the business.


You can probably categorize about 4 styles or personality types for behavior in the workplace and some have combinations of the 4 since no one employee usually fits into one exclusive pigeonhole category.


The dominating personality type is fast paced and wants the work to be completed in a timely manner. They generally prefer respect, control, and challenge in the workplace.


The influencers are usually extroverted who are fast paced, energetic, like enthusiasm and fun, and like recognition from others.


Supportive and almost submissive personality types are good listeners, support others, are slower paced, team oriented, reserved, and basically desire that others be nice to them and others.


The conscientious employee is precise, careful, detail oriented and accurate. He or she prefers logical data-based decisions.


Of course the ideal personality type is someone who dominates when necessary, is a good influencer of others, is supportive when needed, and is generally conscientious based on the circumstances as they present themselves. You could call that human a jack of all personality styles who adjusts his or her personality to the circumstances or the tasks at hand.


The employee handbook should set the rules for proper and inappropriate behavior in the workplace. Subjects covered are code of conduct, communication policy, nondiscrimination policy, compensation and benefits policy, employment and termination policy, and acknowledgement page.


Holding regular performance reviews and check ins of employees is important to get valid feedback. Simply asking -How is it going? followed by coaching, encouragement, and relevant feedback.


Focus on the employee’s strengths and contributions, keep the review short, have an open discussion on employee goals for the future, create an employee grievance policy where you get the grievance in writing with documentation for the investigation, and generally encourage an open door policy so an employee is not shy about complaining appropriately if he or she sees something is not as it should be.


The above procedures validate the fact that you are interested in the employee staff and not just in their work.


A positive optimistic company culture can avoid employee negativity with unsatisfied employees, low productivity, high turnover rates, and less profit.


A motivating company culture can flourish if there is- honesty which encourages trust within workplace relationships, if employees know the purpose or goals of the organization and how each contributes to their advancement, and regular feedback which is motivating and offers recognition of work well done.


In conclusion, occasional negativity can be tolerated if it is immediately addressed and dealt with. However, habitual or repetitive negativity will definitely harm an organization and the morale of the employees so if no solution can be found to stop the negativity, documentation of each event is essential and eventual firing of the offending employee is a must.