I think that it is important to get the right people on your team and sometimes it is necessary to get the wrong ones off. The making of a good team has a lot to do with the relationships built between the people on the team. However, relationships are not always positive. As Fullan (2001) wrote, “relationships are not ends in themselves. Relationships are powerful, which means they can also be powerfully wrong.” Aligning yourself with a negative person can bring you down both personally and professionally, even if you are not negative yourself.
I am fortunate to work with mostly positive people, but I have been in a situation where I had to work with a negative employee. I remember feeling “stuck” as I was forced to listen to her go on and on about what was wrong with our employer and company. I didn’t know what to do besides try to avoid her. I found an article that gives some advice on what to do when working with a negative coworker. “Long term complaining saps your energy and positive outlook. Don’t allow that to happen. Walk away. Tell the coworker you’d prefer to move on to more positive subjects” (Heathfield, n.d.).
The right supervisor may be able to turn that person’s negativity around. The coworker I was referring to became positive on her own when we got a new supervisor. Her outlook changed and I never really knew what happened, but our new supervisor was a great listener. I always felt like he validated my thoughts and concerns. Miller (n.d.) wrote, “Relationships in the workplace are complicated, limited, and not necessarily the best method of defining the real person. Individual relationships are unique from person to person and new managers should be wary of any press about their employees, negative or positive, until they have had time to do an independent assessment of employees’ skill set and performance.”
Unfortunately, not all negative employees change for the better. The wrong person for your team is someone who refuses to change or whose behavior gets worse. When “efforts to deal with a problem employee are met by disinterest, disengagement, or even worse behavior, that’s a good sign that things won’t necessarily get better” (Faus, 2013). When there is no hope for improved behavior after attempts to get the employee’s attitude to change, the employee that needs to be removed from the team.
Faus, A. (2013, August 12). 5 Signs It’s Time To Fire Your Problem Employee. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/dailymuse/2013/08/12/5-signs-its-time-to-fire-your-problem-employee/
Fullan, M. (2001). Leading in a Culture of Change. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Heathfield, S. M. (n.d.). How to Deal With a Negative Coworker: Negativity Matters. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from About.com Human Resources: http://humanresources.about.com/od/conflictresolution/a/negative_worker.htm
Miller, T. (n.d.). Turning a Negative Employee Into a Positive Asset. Retrieved November 5, 2015, from T-Empowerment Coaching: http://www.t-empowerment-coaching.com/ezine_articles_positive.asp