Every workplace has negative people who erode morale. They’re not always easy to pick out of a crowd, but they can do an amazing amount of damage over time.Most of the time, these folks don’t make the big mistakes that call attention to themselves. They’re frequently pretty good at their jobs, so they’re not called on the carpet too often.
But like a virus running in the background of a computer program, their acidic personalities eat away at the goals – and ultimately the bottom line – of the company week after week, year after year.
Who are these people? They’re the employees who:
continually find things to complain about and exaggerate the seriousness of co-workers’ mistakes
spread gossip and start rumors that pit employees against each other
talk behind co-workers’ backs, and
undermine supervisors’ authority with a never-ending flow of criticism that stays under-the-radar so it’s rarely recognized and corrected.
Looking for answers – 4 key questions
So what’s to be done? The experts say managers should move away from the vague “bad attitude” discussion to the hard facts of employee behavior.
The key questions:
What’s the impact of the employee’s behavior?
How do the person’s actions differ from the standards set for overall employee behavior?
What’s the effect of this individual’s behavior on the people who work with him/her?
If this person acted according to our accepted standards, could it make a difference in morale and productivity?
Managers should identify the actions of negative people – and make it clear those actions will no longer be tolerated.
Handling tough conversations with acidic employees
Establishing policy is a solid first step; it creates a good framework. But managers need practical advice that gets results day to day on the front lines.
Managers need one-on-one coaching sessions to cover these points:
Acknowledge the awkwardness. Managers can let employees know they’re providing feedback that’s difficult to discuss. It’s only human to feel that way.
Keep it results-oriented. A phrase like “I’m bringing this up because it’s important you address this issue to be successful in your job” is helpful.
Accentuate the positive. It’s a good idea to highlight the good things that are likely to happen when the person changes the disruptive behavior. On the other hand, if the person remains defiant, stressing the negative outcome if the person’s attitude doesn’t change can be effective, too.
Suggestions for handling the confrontation:
Be specific about what you want. It’s a mistake to use general terms in a discussion about a specific behavior problem. For example, a manager says “I don’t like your attitude. I want you to change it.” That’s pretty safe, but it could mean anything.
Instead, the manager should say “It’s not helpful the way you talk about our customers behind their backs. It poisons the attitude of the others in customer service. From now on, if you can’t say something supportive of a customer, please don’t say anything at all.”
Managers should try to gather specific examples of negative things the employee has said in the past, and use those in the discussion for clarity.
Let people rant … a little. Once a manager has gotten through discussing the specific behaviors, it’s likely the other person is going to feel the need to blow off steam and maybe even mount a defense. To avoiding having people feel like they are on the witness stand, let them rant a bit. It’ll help them feel like they are being heard – because they are. Then steer the conversation back to the results you want.
Try to use “we.” Work to get across the notion that the issue is a problem for everyone concerned. A manager can start by saying “We have a problem” or “We need to change.”
The helps the person realize the behavior is important, without finger-pointing.
Avoid overusing “you.” Putting all the responsibility on the employee is a conversational black hole that’s impossible to escape. The constant use of the word you, as in “You have a bad attitude and everyone knows it” is an invitation for a fight.
Instead, try “We need to talk about your attitude.”
The point here is, while it is OK to use the word “you,” using it continually in a negative way kills the conversation.
Avoid “however” and “but.” Some managers believe that if they lead with a compliment, it’s easier to wade into the problem. That conversation looks something like this: “You’ve done a pretty good job, but …” and then the manager lowers the boom.
That often angers people and leaves them thinking, “Why can’t he ever just say something positive and leave it at that?”
Consider substituting “and” for “but” and “however,” and the conversation is likely to go smoother, as in: “You’re doing a pretty good job and we need to talk about how to get you to show more respect for customers.”
Don’t feel as if you have to fill the silence. In a tense situation a manager may be tempted to fill every gap in the conversation. Don’t. Stay silent when there’s a lull. Obligate the other person to fill in the silence.
It’s surprising the amount of information a manager can get without ever asking a question … just by remaining silent.
A recent court ruling makes it clear: If you’re trying to rid yourself of the disease of workplace harassment, you can’t just treat the symptoms. You need to find the cure.
That’s the lesson from a recent federal lawsuit in New York state, in which a jury awarded $275,000 to a woman who’d been victimized by a hostile work environment.
The case involved Lisa Fisher, a health aide at the Mermaid Manor Home for Adults. She is black.
There was hostility between black employees from the United States and black workers whose origins were Caribbean or West Indian. The Caribbean employees were referred to as “the coconuts” by some employees.
Two of the so-called “coconuts” — Yvonne Kelly, whose origins were Jamaican and Lisi Laurent, from Haiti — allegedly posted a photo on Instagram portraying Fisher as a fictional chimpanzee from the movie “Planet of the Apes.” Fisher complained to management, which took disciplinary action against Kelly and Laurent.
‘Continuous and unrelenting’-
But the problem did not go away. The harassment continued, according to court records: Kelly proceeded “to ridicule [Fisher] continuously and unrelentingly.”
Among other acts of harassment, the court said, Kelly ripped up Fisher’s patient book, destroyed the beds of Fisher’s patients, swung her arms in an attempt to strike Fisher in a hallway and once, seeing Fisher in a room, said loudly, “Do you smell that?”
Although Fisher continued to complain about the conduct, Mermaid Manor “took no meaningful action to protect [her] and to rectify the hostile work environment that resulted from Ms. Kelly’s unceasing harassment,” the court found.
Fisher filed a complaint with the EEOC and later sued in federal court. Following a trial, a jury awarded Fisher $25,000 in actual damages and $250,000 in punitive damages. “(Mermaid Manor), despite having actual knowledge of these numerous incidents, took no meaningful action to protect (Fisher) and to rectify the hostile work environment that resulted from Ms. Kelly’s unceasing harassment,” the judge wrote.
The one bright spot for Mermaid Manor (dim though it may be) is that the court lowered the punitive damages to $50,000. “While (Mermaid) acted reprehensibly, the disparity between the compensatory damages and punitive damages is inappropriate,” the judge wrote.
The take-away from this case is pretty clear: Acting on a single incident of harassment just does not cut it if the pattern of harassment is allowed to continue. Employers have to remain vigilant that a hostile work environment won’t be tolerated — and take action to make sure the unacceptable conduct stops.
One of President Donald Trump’s first orders of business when he took office was issuing an executive order on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Since then, much has been written about the order’s potential effect on the individual marketplace. Now, it’s time to address how it could impact employer plans.
Here’s the bottom line:While the executive order may very well have a significant impact on employer plans down the road, it’s impact in next few months will likely be minimal.
As a result, employers still have to be prepared to comply with the ACA’s reporting requirements, for which the falls on Feb. 28, 2017.
While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has the discretion to delay the Obama care reporting deadlines without going through a formal rule making process, it has given no indication as of yet that it would do so-despite Trump’s executive order. So employment and benefits attorneys are recommending that employers continue to prepare for the upcoming reporting deadlines.
What the order does:
Trump’s executive order directs federal agencies — most notably the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) — to exercise the authority granted to them to:
What the HHS and federal agencies will do with those orders in the short term is anyone’s guess. The executive order does not create binding law; it simply acts as a directive to federal agencies to take certain kinds of actions.
What the order does do, however, is formally declare the Trump administration’s intent to take whatever measures are necessary to dismantle the ACA. Still, undoing the majority of the law will take Congressional action.
What employers can expect next:
Chances are, any changes that are spurred by the executive order will affect the individual market first. The initial thinking on Capitol Hill is that the order could result in granting more waivers and hardship exemptions from the individual mandate and/or eliminate any fees or taxes associated with the mandate.
As for its effect on employers, here’s what could happen:
Extension of the “good faith” standard. This is the most likely action employers can expect to result from the executive order: The IRS will issue another extension of its “good faith” standard, which says employers won’t be penalized for certain mistakes and/or delays in the reporting processes as long as they can show they tried to comply in a timely manner.
The “Cadillac tax” may run out of gas. The tax has already been delayed until 2020. But under the executive order, there’s a strong possibility federal agencies will stop planning to implement it at all.
The reinsurance program fee may disappear. Under the ACA, insurers and self-insured employers have to pay a fee per every life their plans cover. For 2016, that fee was $26. The money was to be polled in an account managed by the HHS and would be used to reimburse insurance companies who end up covering a large share of individuals with pre-existing conditions. There’s a possibility the second installment of that fee — due in November — may get axed. Insurers, naturally, were expected to pass these fees on to their customers — i.e., employers.
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund Fee could be finished. Insurers and self-insured employers were expected to cut the IRS a check for every life they covered. The fee was roughly $2 per life and was to be used for research conducted on the clinical effectiveness of medical treatments, procedures and drugs. Many analysts now feel the collection of this fee will be suspended.
Stay tuned. We’ll keep you posted as federal agencies like the HHS, IRS and Department of Labor respond to the executive order. But it may take some time, as Trump’s cabinet picks — specifically his HHS secretary — haven’t been confirmed yet.
It probably comes as no surprise that employees and managers are not big fans of traditional performance reviews. But what may surprise you is just how much employees despise these reviews — and how they could be driving top talent out the door.
In a recent survey by Adobe, 22% of employees admitted to crying as a result of a performance review. So at any given time, more than a fifth of your workforce could be brought to tears as a result of traditional annual performance reviews.
Who’s crying? This may surprise you as well:
25% of men said they've cried (compared to just 18% of women), and
34% of Millennial s said they've cried (compared to just 18% of Gen Xe rs and 9% of Baby Boomers).
Adobe collected responses from 1,500 office workers.
Driving talent away
What may be even more distributing is how adamant some workers are to get away from companies that still conduct traditional reviews:
37% said they've immediately looked at job openings in other companies after a review
52% of men said they’d consider switching jobs because of performance reviews
28% of women said they’d switch jobs
61% of Millennial said they’d switch jobs
36% of Gen Xe rs said they’d switch jobs, and
15% of Baby Boomers said they’d switch jobs.
In total, 55% of employees said they wished their company would get rid of their formal review processes.
The majority of employees said their company’s reviews are dated, stressful and have no impact on how they do their jobs.
Managers not on board either
The bad news doesn't just extend to employees. Managers aren't fans of the review process either — with 66% saying they wish their company would change its current performance review process.
And if your managers aren't happy about conducting the reviews, it has got to make you question how much effort they’re really putting into making them worthwhile, right?
Some disturbing views of today’s managers:
62% say the performance review process is outdated
61% said the time they spend on performance reviews negatively impacts their ability to do their jobs, and
57% said performance reviews just aren't effective.
The good news: Employees and managers acknowledge the fact that there needs to be some process in place to gauge how well employees are performing in their jobs.
But rather than a traditional review, employees want:
Feedback in the moment — said 80% of employees (compared to feedback that’s aggregated over a period of months — 20%), and
Feedback that’s qualitative — said 60% (compared to feedback that has some sort of numeric rating — 40%.