How to Deal with a Negative Team Member

By Scarlett Meade & Craig Jarrell.

When we talk about human personality and development, these are two of the most important and interesting topics because they include understanding and taking care of each other. These are the kind of people that you, as the CEO, have an opportunity to show your human side to.

When you are at the top of the company you will see different types of people with different personalities. We have to admit that there is always “that person” that everyone knows is the entropic element. What does that really mean, well the entropic element is the person that has a “victim mindset”.

People with this mentality do a great job blaming others about what happened to them. In their job, they take no responsibility for their actions. When you talk with them, they always justify the things that they do wrong. They will say things like, “you don’t understand” or “life is too hard.” They may hide behind their faith or family as if they can’t focus on those things at the same time while they’re working for you. They try to come across as if they are more noble than the other people working there.  

These people are like “dementors”, they make their environment tense and the people around them feel angry or sad. One of their strengths is that they are really good at convincing people. They recruit people to their negative side. They make people believe that it is cool to blame, criticize, complain, and think small. So you have to take immediate action with this person because they can easily pollute your whole company with negative thoughts. It is easier to stay on the negative side, but imagine the potential of this person in the positive side. You could also expect amazing results.

Here are some tips you can do to help them go from a “dementor” to “Mahatma Gandhi”:

1.- Talk to them immediately. The worst thing you can do is doing nothing. Make an appointment with that person. They need to know that you genuinely care about them. However, you cannot fake it. They will pick up on that, and they won’t be transparent with you. So think twice about your motives.

2.- Asking questions is an art. We will guide you to go through some of the most important questions, so you can start a conversation from the basis and get to the climax.

  • “Why did you choose to work for this company?” That person will tell you their motives. Those are probably still there or they may change.
  • “Are those things still important to you?”
  • “What has your experience been working here?”
  • “What are some things that we can do better?”
  • “Are you facing a challenge in your work?”
  • “How can I help you or how can I make it better?”

Remember, they are still your employees so they probably won’t bring up something really important for them because they don’t want to start a conflict or tell you something that you might regret hearing. You can start with small sessions to build confidence and a bond between both of you.

3.- Action. During your conversation it is important to ask questions so you can create awareness of their situation or behavior. Ask them questions like:

  • How would things be different if you chose to get better with this?
  • How do you think people will react after that change?
  • What can you do to make it better? So they can realize that they are also responsible for the situations that happen to them.
  • Would you like to make it better?
  • How would you like to start? You will guide them to find specific actions. Like saying “Good morning” to them everyday. Start with only one or two actions.
  • From 1 to 10 (1 being “I’m not doing it “ and 10 “I will do it for sure”), do you think you can implement this in your life in one week? If they give a 7 or 8 ask them: what do you think we can change to improve the score?

4.- Show your interest. During your daily routine, talk to that person. Ask how they are doing today, what are they going to eat…any simple but very significant action. That will show them that you are truly interested in helping them.

5.- Follow up. Most likely that person does not feel comfortable talking to you or looking for you during work hours, but you can do it. Try every week or every 15 days to find a moment to talk to them about their progress and how are they dealing with this situation.

“Strong people do not put others down.. they lift them up.” Michael P. Watson.