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Firing an Employee with a Negative Attitude

Workplace cultures are delicate balances, with multiple personalities, characters, and hierarchies.  These differing personalities must learn to work with one-another and put aside their differences for the good of the company.  However, in some cases, there may be individuals and employees whom are incapable of placing their differences aside, causing a toxic environment and workplace.  Although not an easy process, there may come a time when firing an employee with a negative attitude is a necessity.

Toxic employees not only affect their own work and efficiency but can also have a negative effect on the company and the company culture.  These toxic employees can cause disturbances, create resentment, and cause other employees to leave the company.  Such problems can compound, leading to higher turnover rates and lower morale across the board.

Although not an easy task, managers must take direct actions to put an end to the negative attitude and the toxic employee.  Letting a toxic and negative employee run freely and without recourse will simmer resentment across the entire organization.  Eventually, decisive action must be made, and the employee must be fired from their position.

Employee Mediation

Firing an employee is a difficult task and one that should only be done after careful thought and consideration.  However, as a manager, it is your responsibility to take care-of your employees and to care for their career progressions.  Great managers take it upon themselves to resolve difficult and tense situations for the betterment of the entire organization.

If a toxic or negative employee is causing strife, resentment, and harassment across the entire department or organization, then it may be too little, too late to try to resolve the issue.  If you see that others are being affected by the employee’s actions, then it may simply be best to let the employee go.

However, if you begin to notice that a particular employee is emitting toxicity or negativity, then the best first step would be to attempt to resolve and mediate the issue.  As a manager, it is your responsibility to keep an orderly, efficient, and optimistic department. 

Taking the employee with a negative attitude aside and discussing the problems you are seeing is a great first step.  You will want to be honest, direct, and transparent with them on the behavior you are seeing.  Try to get an understanding of why they are behaving this way.  See if there is anything that is bothering them or that you can do to assist.

Although you may not always have the answer or the ability to resolve, you should try to make a concerted effort to resolve the situation.  By speaking with the employee, you are letting them know that you are aware of a change in attitude and that continuing with a negative attitude will result in disciplinary action.

Document, Document, Document

Negative employees and employees with a toxic presence may attempt to sabotage or misrepresent their actions if a firing or termination is imminent.  As a manager or a colleague, you should document all incidents as soon as they occur.  This documentation should be made immediately and should be stored in safe keeping, where it will neither get lost nor destroyed.

When documenting flagrance and offenses, you should be as detailed as possible.  Not only should you list the offense, but you should list the date and time it occurred, the witnesses that were there, and the specific actions that occurred.  You can also list how it appeared to affect the team and the individuals who witnessed the offense.

Keep these documents safe and secured.  It is best to email them to yourself and to keep a hard copy as well.  If you are the toxic employees’ manager, then you may keep these documents for yourself or share with your manager for additional advice.  If you are not their manager, then it is best to compile the offenses and email to their manager after speaking with that manager.

Firing an Employee with a Negative Attitude

Verify Everything

As a manager, the onus is on you to verify the information and to make attempts to resolve the situation.  After speaking with the employee and documenting any offenses, keep a timeline of the course of events.  Within this timeline, you should include your attempts at mediation and any complaints levied by other employees.

If you have not witnessed the events occur and are hearing of it from other employees, you should look to conduct your own investigations.  This does not need to be done in a malicious or secretive manner.  Rather, try to be more attentive and “on the floor” where the employee works.  Look to see if you can see an offense occur or how an employee’s actions and attitude is affecting their surrounding colleagues.

Speak to Human Resources

As we’ve said, firing an employee is a difficult process.  It is not done easily and takes time, evidence, and substantial reasoning.  After you’ve completed your due diligence and attempted to mediate directly with the employee, it is best to contact human resources regarding the matter.

Human resources will likely request the documentation you’ve compiled and your attempts to resolve and mediate the issue.  The process is different at each company and may be dependent on a variety of factors.  You will likely need to continue to provide human resources with updates.

If the employee becomes too toxic and too negative, it would be best to make a full-blown case with human resources.  You should be armed with specific, direct examples of how the employee’s actions are affecting your team and how it has created an environment of distrust, low morale, and inefficiency.  Again, human resources is different at each company so your experience may be different.

Things to do in the Interim

While a toxic and negative employee can drag down all employees, as a manager you should make every effort possible to ease their frustrations and increase morale.  Look to remain patient and provide guidance and support to your team during the process.  Think outside of the box and offer additional perks and benefits to keep employees engaged.

While the entire process is difficult on everyone, you don’t want to start losing other members due to one employee.  Take extra steps and put in extra effort to show them you care for them and their success.  The firing process may sometimes be long and complicated, but if you show strength and leadership to your team throughout, they will be appreciative for it.

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