Part 1

A toxic environment can be created because of the actions of problematic employees. For example, those with a bad attitude. It may be amusing at first, but it eventually wears on everyone. Negative behavior disrupts the entire team and has an impact on employee performance. It makes people uncomfortable! If you want to be a leader, you MUST learn how to deal with difficult employees for the sake of your business!

Critique behavior, not people

Your role is not to judge them. Instead, support them and look for solutions. Begin by drawing their attention to the problem in a non-confrontational way. Try to assume their intentions are good.  Keep in mind that not all challenging employees intend to be difficult.

Determine the source of the problem

The reasons behind a person’s behavior are different for everyone. Some may be haunted by marital problems, while others could be struggling financially. Other reasons could be more personal issues, relationships with colleagues, or their work (ex: hectic schedule).  All of these put a significant amount of weight on a person. A pressure that causes employees to stress out and become less productive and even moodier. It is your responsibility as a leader to identify the root of the problem and solve it!  So speak with them. Check in and see if there is anything you can do to alleviate some of the stress that is causing them to act negatively.


Managers/owners must be receptive to feedback! Make a safe space for your colleague to express themselves. Listen to your employee’s side of the story without prejudice. Sometimes a problematic person simply needs someone to listen to and understand them. This usually helps in changing their attitude and behavior.

Any leader, whether current or aspiring, must learn how to deal effectively with difficult employees. The key is to approach the situation calmly and rationally, analyzing all influencing factors before taking action!

Stay tuned for part 2 later this week!