At some point, every manager is going to have someone on his/her team who has a terrible attitude. Your job as a manager is to stop the negativity before it infects everyone else. You may have discovered from experience that beginning a conversation with ‘I have some concerns about your attitude at work' doesn't often end well – for either of you.
Fortunately, there's a better way. Here's how to deal with an attitude problem using courageous conversations.
1. Think about the behaviour you have observed
2. Talk to the person as soon as possible after seeing the bad attitude in action
3. Keep your voice and body language neutral
4. Be clear about the change you want to see
5. Use the E2 C2 tool to structure your conversation
6. Don't get sucked into an argument about it
Before you talk to this person, ask yourself, ‘what is the behaviour that I have observed that leads me to label this person as having a bad attitude?' Give the person feedback on that specific behaviour, not the bigger label. Structure your feedback using the E2C2 model, as follows.
First E – Evidence. What did the person do, or not do? Make if factual and say it in a fairly neutral tone of voice.
Don't say: ‘You've got a really bad attitude to team meetings!'
Do say: ‘In the last team meeting, when I announced the new shift patterns, you turned to the person next to you and said “Typical, change for change's sake”'
Second E – Effect. What effect did this have? In other words, why are you giving this piece of feedback?
Don't say: ‘Your attitude isn't just bad, it's toxic'
Do say: ‘When you made that comment in that way, I found it distracting, and it looked like other people were finding it distracting too.'
First C – Continue What do you want the person to continue doing? Second C – Change What do you want the person to do differently?
Don't say: ‘From now on, please engage your brain before opening your mouth.'
Do say: ‘I do want you to contribute to team meetings, just not in that way. So at the next team meeting, if you have a comment to make, either make it out loud to everyone, or if you prefer, come and discuss it with me afterwards. Are you willing to do that?'
The more specific you are about what you want the person to do next time, the more likely it is that they will do it.