As a supervisor, you have a job to do. So how much patience can you show toward employees who are struggle with personal issues, stress, or distress in their lives. Everybody has problems, but how should you respond so you don't fuel an Egyptian riot in your office?
First, lets get this straight. There is nothing wrong with expecting employees to have positive attitudes at work. Indeed, negative attitudes can be contagious, so your philosophy has merit. It’s possible that an employee with a negative attitude may be depressed, but you can't diagnose such a problem. You can, however, refer the employee to their doctor, an employee assistance professional, or ask them to contact a professional counselor if a negative attitude does not abate. Don’t dismiss it as a personality flaw or just the way your employees is. We are talking about risk management here. You want to act, not wait an see if the employee becomes violent someday. Consider whether the negative attitude of an employee points to needed changes or indicates a need to provide negative feedback to management. A negative attitude is different from whining, a behavior that grates on supervisors and generally has no problem-solving focus. Poor attitudes are valid performance concerns because they can be described in measurable terms based upon what is seen and heard. Their effect on others and their negative impact on morale can also be documented. Dealing with negative attitudes is part of a packet of workplace wellness tip sheets--all just for supervisors. Download these supervisor training skills handouts here.
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