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Have you ever noticed the number of employees who always seem to be grouchy? They’re relentlessly complaining or judging.

They might listen to instructions and do their work as required, so they’re not insubordinate. True, it’s not a firing offense, but their incessant kvetching is demoralizing.

Compare this, as a non-termination offense, to an actual justification to fire somebody. A negative employee seeking to undermine the boss or refusing to follow instructions is certainly eligible for discipline.

For maximum teamwork and employee morale, it behooves bosses to think and manage like coaches who have a helpful spirit.

Negative employees can harm an organization in another way: Magnified stress in people leads to physical illness. That’s what we term a psychosomatic illness because it results from damaging thought patterns.

For maximum teamwork and employee morale, it behooves bosses to think and manage like coaches who have a helpful spirit. A coach knows how to inspire employees to fix their negative attitudes.

There are three ways:

Inspire team members to self-analyze their thought processes

If it’s their nature to continually cajole, complain or be judgmental, the employees must be told to ask themselves questions, such as:

  1. Is what I’m doing right now helping me to reach my career goals?
  2. If my behavior is to do a good job, is my attitude contagious – is it worth catching?
  3. Does anyone ever ask me to criticize others?
  4. Am I helping the organization with my criticizing?
  5. Does my judging help my coworkers or boss?
  6. Do you recognize when you’re stressed?

A person can easily tell when they’re stress by taking both hands and touching their neck. If the person’s hands feel cold on their neck, then the person is indeed stressed.

There are other signs of stress: Rapid heartbeat, sweaty palms, tense muscles, and upset stomach.

Most employees will readily admit their negativity is unproductive. It doesn’t help the organization or coworkers.

The negative employees can be motivated to change their behavior by changing their attitudes.

Teach them this concept: “No matter what, there are no big deals; no matter what.”

So, it’s OK for an employee to disagree with managerial moves or deadlines, but to constantly voice complaints at work over matters beyond their control is unproductive.

To change employees’ tendencies to kvetch, share a helpful technique

To change their continual negative thoughts, here’s a tool employees can use: The Principle of Contrary Action.

The Principle of Contrary Action promotes clear thinking and open-mindedness. How?

Suggest employees keep a mental record of every activity. Then, change their routines – their approach to each activity – to do it differently each time they do it.

And suggest to them this process should include toxicity. In other words, if they know someone is toxic, suggest they limit their interactions with that person. If possible, avoid that person altogether.

Suggest employees how to be optimistic — with the power of thought

Teach them to focus on what’s going well. A negative person will focus on the 10 percent that’s going badly in their lives instead of the 90 percent that’s going well.

The switch to an optimistic demeanor starts with a “gratitude list.” That’s when a person writes all the things she or he can be grateful.

Show employees to speak more positively.

For example, for the employee who complains about traffic in the morning commute, explain:

“Well, you are able to afford your own car and be in charge of the route you take or where you park your car.”

Then ask:

“What about the people who don’t own a car, and must take the bus? They have to get up much earlier, wait in line and must follow the routines dictated by the transit company.”

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related topics:

7 Management Tips – Communication with Difficult Employees – Multiple problems including loss of profit result from ineffectively dealing with difficult employees.

Management – How to Improve Accountability in Your Company – If business and tepid growth have affected your outlook, take a look at your human resources and consider a couple of questions. If you don’t like your answer, here are eight solutions.

Management: 5 Most Common Reasons to Fire Employees – With difficult or underperforming employees, you have two obvious problems – the impacts on your organization and the behavior of the individual. Here’s what to do.

Management: Coach Your Employees to Better Performance – In talent management, coaching, counseling and giving feedback is of utmost importance. But it’s a difficult challenge if you don’t have a coaching culture.

“Good management consists in showing average people how to do the work of superior people.”

-John Rockefeller


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.