Profiles Employee Assessment Blog

Subscribe via E-mail

Your email:

Now Accepting Guest Posts

Human Resources Today

Browse by Tag

Subscribe by Email

Your email:

Workplace 101: A Profiles Global Business Blog

Current Articles | RSS Feed RSS Feed

Attitude Check: Tips to Manage Difficult Employees with Bad Attitudes


Do you know an office grumpy? You know, the employee who walks in to work with a negative or demeaning attitude. It’s no surprise that bad attitudes are unhealthy in the workplace. The more negative employees are at work, the less productive and valuable they are for the organization. That’s why knowing how to manage difficult employees is a crucial leadership skill.

Here are the four most common bad attitudes in the workplace:

  • Negative emotions toward the organization. It’s not uncommon to have those select employees who continuously make snide remarks about company leaders or co-workers. These negative feelings toward the organization clash with organizational goals and hurt the workplace environment. 
  • Insubordinate challenges to authority. Bad attitude employees might refuse to perform a task just in order to prove a point. That is disrespectful, unprofessional and sure isn’t helping your organization!
  • Overly argumentative. Employees who aggravate and pick fights in the workplace create an uncomfortable and distrusting team setting. These employees don’t make efforts to compromise or settle disagreements with coworkers.  
  • Lazy, unmotivated. These are the employees who aren’t engaged in their work and spend most of their time goofing off and causing distractions. An infographic created from the National Business Research Institute shared that disengaged employees spend their time sleeping, playing games, using social media and socializing.

Do you remember Grumpy, one of Snow White’s seven dwarfs? He was a master at these four bad attitudes. He was negative, stubborn and made a fuss about everything. But by the end of the fairytale, Grumpy changed. Despite his initial bad attitude, he is the one who took charge and saved Snow White from the evil queen.  

So before you dismiss the “Grumpys” in your office, ask if it’s worth it to try and manage difficult employees. Finding ways to effectively manage employees with bad attitudes can save your organization the expense of unnecessary hiring costs. Did you know the average cost to replace an employee is 150 percent of the employee’s annual compensation! And those costs can reach up to 250 percent when replacing managerial or sales employees.

Solution: Find the Source of the Bad Attitude

Finding the source of the difficult employee’s bad attitude can help you coach and manage the employee’s behavior without making him or her more upset. Let’s face it, we all have grumpy days, but a prolonged bad attitude usually means there is something else going on.

Employee assessments that test behavior and personality traits can be very helpful for mangers. Full-person assessments, like the ProfileXT®, let mangers know how employees respond to hardships and interact with their peers. With that information, managers can know how to best develop and coach the employee through a difficult time.

When evaluating the situation, and preparing to talk with the difficult employee, ask yourself:

  • How does the employee interact with co-workers?
  • Has the employee’s bad attitude been a recent change?
  • Has the employee’s workload changed?
  • Could something have happened in the individual’s life that could have triggered the bad attitude?

Then, confront the difficult employee privately and respectfully. Let the employee know how his or her behavior is negatively impacting the team and productivity. Keeping the questions above in mind, offer support, but be firm and let them know that their job is on the line if the bad attitude persists. The most important thing is to keep the conversation professional and constructive

Have you ever had to deal with a bad attitude or difficult employee on your team? Share with us in the comment box below or connect with us on Facebook or Twitter.



Normally employees with bad attitude are those who are becoming incompetent, inefficient, ineffective and those who are too old for their post. Those employees never had a professional growth due to their negative mentality. Is it fair if the employees immediate superior fire her after realizing that he is losing his good employees. Is it just for the rest of the workforce to fire the employee with bad attitude rather than keeping a bad apple? Thank you.
Posted @ Thursday, October 17, 2013 11:05 AM by Mike Medina
I have an employee with bad attitude, challenging my managerial skills, disrespectful and with sooooo negative behavior. I talked to her once, and instead of resolving the issue, the fault was thrown out on me. She doesn't want to resolve the issue but keeps on doing dragging all of the co-workers down by replying to questions when asked with bad tone, not doing anything or helping out concerning the good interest of the company. Often absent, half-day, or undertime and not fulfilling duties as instructed. Should I fire her?
Posted @ Tuesday, April 22, 2014 11:43 AM by Ludy
Hi Ludy, 
Do you have an HR department,or senior management you can discuss this with? It is best to follow your company policy on disciplinary action in a situation like this.
Posted @ Tuesday, April 22, 2014 2:59 PM by Aoife Gorey
I have the same issue as Ludy. My employee constantly challenges me she is older than me and constantly prides herself in doing these things longer than I have but there's a reason why she hasn't progressed in our field it's her attitude. When we work she will reply with "uh huh" and always brings up the negative things rather than put her energy into something productive. HR spoke to us both I know I must be patient but I just think someone with that attitude and not being a team player won't get her far anytime, that's why she has never actually had a steady job.
Posted @ Wednesday, August 20, 2014 10:25 PM by Valerie
How to handle a co worker who refuses to give you the necessary information?
Posted @ Friday, September 19, 2014 7:44 PM by HR1
Any suggestions for a co worker with a snarky attitude?
Posted @ Friday, November 07, 2014 1:56 PM by sue
Suzanne, have you tried to talk to the individual about the reasons for the attitude? Is he or she like that with everyone? If it's affected office morale and/or your work, I would suggest speaking with your direct supervisor.
Posted @ Friday, November 07, 2014 4:52 PM by Aoife Gorey
I am direct supervisor and this is my first role as such. I delegated work to an employee who ignored me twice. I just walked away. Help!?
Posted @ Sunday, December 07, 2014 3:27 AM by kristina
Hi-I have a co-supervisor role with someone that I have very little respect or trust for. This person is negative toward me, talks negatively about me to my direct reports, consistently tries to keep information from me, and creates a hostle working environment. I am going to EAP to find a way to work with this person. Any suggestions on how to deal with this?
Posted @ Sunday, December 07, 2014 7:46 PM by Kim
I have recently joined the company, where almost 50% of the employs are pride about them, negative attitude people who never encourage new employees. please suggest how to handle the situation & can myself as best employ,
Posted @ Tuesday, December 23, 2014 6:16 AM by Lakshmi
I would love to learn more on this subject.
Posted @ Thursday, January 01, 2015 3:45 PM by Baby
I just joined in new company as junior manager but some time am given responsibility as senior manager but people do not respect me either as senior for that period of management what can I do
Posted @ Tuesday, June 02, 2015 1:46 PM by sadiki
Hi Sadiki, Thanks for your comment! Are there any higher level managers or executives you can speak to about this? Perhaps someone that could mentor you in management techniques? Here is an article from Forbes that I like about earning the respect of your employees.  
But, make sure that the employees are not out of line in how they treat you. Being disrespectful often requires disciplinary action. Perhaps, also speak with HR?  
I hope this helps!  
-Aoife Gorey, Blog Editor
Posted @ Tuesday, June 02, 2015 2:39 PM by Aoife Gorey
Post Comment
Website (optional)

Allowed tags: <a> link, <b> bold, <i> italics