Discussing Behaviour 'Grumpy' Employee

Discussion in 'Employment & HR' started by jameZee, Feb 14, 2019.

  1. jameZee

    jameZee UKBF Contributor Free Member

    31 4
    I manage someone who's body language and verbal sighing/complaining feels cleverly engineered (similar to a grumpy teenager always on the fringe of maintaining social veneer, but makes it very clear they're disinterested and distant). We're not quite talking about Harry Enfield's 'Kevin' here, but maybe that gives you an idea of their general approach to communication.

    This passive-aggressive resistance, coupled with a low output/performance makes myself and other colleagues find it difficult to collaborate and enjoy the working environment.

    During a particularly prolonged period of frustration, another colleague lost patience and 'fought fire with fire' by isolating and mirroring the same behaviour. Indicating they were unhappy in this way did snap them out of it, but was only a temporary solution similar to just 'telling a child off'.

    Occasionally though, they will turn up, perform really well and contribute positively to the working atmosphere but this is the exception in contrast.

    When I sit down and talk to them to try and understand, they close up and insist that nothing is wrong. You can see the threat response kick in, they 'shrink' and appear vulnerable. I have to carefully coax them back out, effectively tiptoeing around the situation due to their defensive emotional barriers.

    Between you and me, my gut tells me they're experiencing some complicated feelings about working here, but the pain of leaving and/or fear of finding another job is making it easier to continue 'sitting on the nail'.

    Have you ever experienced a similar situation or found yourself having to address/discuss such issues and if so, what approach did you take in trying to resolve and improve the behaviour?
    Posted: Feb 14, 2019 By: jameZee Member since: Mar 26, 2017
  2. Blaby Loyal

    Blaby Loyal UKBF Ace Full Member

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    Less than two years service? If so, cheerio old son. It's taking up too much of your time, having an impact on the more productive members of your staff and employees are "ten a penny" these days.
    Posted: Feb 14, 2019 By: Blaby Loyal Member since: Jun 12, 2018
  3. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

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    Yes, again and again and again and . . . well, you get the picture!

    Approach? There are usually multiple causes, including private problems, financial and other types of stress, as well as dissatisfaction with the workplace.

    Post-natal depression, midlife crisis, partner having an affair, balloon payment on house or car, parent dies, dog exploded, whatever - we've all had bad things happen to us, but adults smile, man-up and carry on.

    I used to care and I don't any more. We are all adults here and this is not a therapy centre, but a place where we come to work. I used to do the 'reaching out' thing and try to get the grumpy one to discuss their problems. This never worked! If anything, it made things worse.

    Now I just find a magic reason to get rid of them so that we part as friends and without actually telling them that they have become a PITA.
    Posted: Feb 14, 2019 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  4. scstock

    scstock UKBF Contributor Free Member

    94 17
    Yep, been there. Compromise Agreement, big cheque, huge weight off my shoulders.
    Posted: Feb 14, 2019 By: scstock Member since: Mar 27, 2009
  5. obscure

    obscure UKBF Ace Free Member

    3,119 768
    This person needs to be gone. They are and will continue to damage your business. How you achieve depends on how long they have been there. Less than two years service? "It's not working out, goodbye. Here is your pay, payment in lieu of notice and accrued holiday pay... you can leave now". More than two years service focus on "coupled with a low output/performance" and manage them out.
    Posted: Feb 15, 2019 By: obscure Member since: Jan 18, 2008
  6. Lucan Unlordly

    Lucan Unlordly UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,535 274
    Whatever became of straight talking?

    I once had a boss who told me to use my effin noggin, my response being sufficient to bring half a dozen people running from both sides of One Canada Square (Canary Wharf).
    Another bad day at the office and I had cause to give a work colleague the opportunity to be honest or be thrown through the inch thick plate glass window, and trust me i'm as laid back as you'll find.:D

    Seriously, i've worked with people who chip away, and there manner is far more damaging than any occasional turmoil. Don't pussyfoot with this one. You will be the one who suffers as the protagonist will have skin like a crocodile.
    Posted: Feb 15, 2019 By: Lucan Unlordly Member since: Feb 24, 2009
  7. jameZee

    jameZee UKBF Contributor Free Member

    31 4
    It's my job to make this person aware. It's also my job to care and coach this person to improve their behaviour (to the best of my ability and available resources).

    I'll start addressing the passive aggressive behaviour first as it directly affects the rest of the team (who are self-motivated and perform well). This seems like the most healthy place to begin.

    I think one behavioural issue and one job performance issue will be a good start to see if they are willing to change.

    Has anyone here used a 'performance improvement plan' process?
    Posted: Feb 16, 2019 By: jameZee Member since: Mar 26, 2017
  8. Chris Ashdown

    Chris Ashdown UKBF Legend Free Member

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    While you are doing all that, who is doing your job?, and giving you time to think about your job
    Posted: Feb 16, 2019 By: Chris Ashdown Member since: Dec 7, 2003
  9. patientlady

    patientlady UKBF Ace Free Member

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    I know what I would do, and I am pretty patient really!
    Posted: Feb 16, 2019 By: patientlady Member since: Aug 25, 2009
  10. MBE2017

    MBE2017 UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,174 325
    Straight chat, no trying to be nice, be honest. State either they choose to change and improve, or they can leave, give them two to four weeks and reassess.
    Posted: Feb 16, 2019 By: MBE2017 Member since: Feb 16, 2017
  11. The Byre

    The Byre UKBF Ace Free Member

    9,276 3,674
    You have already done step one here -
    Step two would be a formal plan with key concrete targets for them to hit. Make the plan long enough (2-3 months) so that any back-sliding is nipped in the bud. Be very clear about what it is that you expect. Leave vague guff like 'attitude', 'friendliness' and 'manners' out of it. Set benchmarks of achievement and monitor them. Do not tell any other staff. other than your superior or other responsible person.

    Always document progress - or lack of progress.

    If the person starts making excuses, then you'll know that they are not taking it seriously.

    "I would have completed that assignment on time, but that irritating chap Moe Leicester from accounts kept asking me to verify my double entries."
    Posted: Feb 16, 2019 By: The Byre Member since: Aug 13, 2013
  12. jameZee

    jameZee UKBF Contributor Free Member

    31 4
    Absolutely Byre,

    Clear, measurable goals are the only way to keep the 'grey' out of such a process, but the behavioural issues need addressing as they directly affect the performance of others.

    This person is in a habit of using excuses to avoid responsibility/deflect blame, so I believe showing examples with contrast will help explain the negative impact this has on their growth (and the companies).

    I'll let you all know how I get on.
    Posted: Feb 17, 2019 By: jameZee Member since: Mar 26, 2017
  13. DontAsk

    DontAsk UKBF Ace Free Member

    1,124 143
    Or the other person needs to be gone.

    It works both ways and we have very little form the OP to go on.

    My boss was a micro-manager and continued to be so after I told him, and he promised to change. That's why I was often the grumpy employee, despite a history of always getting good performance reviews, etc., etc...., dealing with a manager who was unable to manage.

    After two such conversations I gave up, took matters into my own hands and left. As far as I know he is still there winding other people up.
    Posted: Feb 18, 2019 By: DontAsk Member since: Jan 7, 2015
  14. Jon Sallows

    Jon Sallows UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    3 0
    What is worth taking in to account is that the behaviour could be due to issues outwith the workplace. In my experience I've found that many employees with mental health issues tend to put up a barrier to others and can find even the smallest of tasks frustrating. The emotional turmoil is never usually directly targeted deliberately to other individuals. It's just down to a lack of inner control.

    You are doing the right thing by approaching them. <advert removed>

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 19, 2019
    Posted: Feb 19, 2019 By: Jon Sallows Member since: Feb 19, 2019
  15. menetworkjadaltd

    menetworkjadaltd UKBF Regular Full Member

    481 72
    As crazy as it sounds, I'd give them more responsibility.
    Posted: Feb 19, 2019 By: menetworkjadaltd Member since: Dec 14, 2011