negative employee clicks

What is the most appropriate response to a "negative click"?

How do you handle the click leader who is negative, always griping and geting folks to jump on the negative train?

This leader goes above chain of command on occasion and incites other troops often not knowing the whole story behind any given situation.

Help! Have a meeting planned soon.


  • 7 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • Sometimes nothing works with this type person except for the "blunt" truth. I would have a "heart to heart" talk and just point blank ask the person if they were happy with their position and with the company. Also reinforce the fact that you all are expected to work together as a team in a positive environment. Things are not the way the "used to be" or maybe always the way you "want them to be", but that's part of the team process - coming to a consensus. If the person displays obvious signs of unhappiness, you may suggest they may be happier working somewhere else. It's not fair to the team or the organization to allow negativity to poison the entire workplace. I have found most of the time that these people are long termers who are not willing to make any changes or concessions to the way things have been run in the past. Subtle hints rarely work with these folks, and sometimes bluntness doesn't either. I have found from experience that after a frank talk that these employees shape up or they do end up finding another position. In rare cases, their negativity has such a bad impact that they are eventually asked to leave. Good luck. This is a difficult situation.

  • This sounds like a very ugly situation. To fix it, I think it's essential for your company's management to enforce the chain of command.

    Require these employees to bring all complaints to their supervisor first (unless they're accusing the supervisor of improper conduct like harassment). Supervisors are in the best position to evaluate employees' complaints, fix problems, and educate ill-informed employees.

    The absolute worst thing managers or executives can do in a situation like this is to allow an employee to repeatedly go behind his or her supervisor's back. That undermines the supervisor's authority and can lead to management forming inaccurate opinions.

    Whenever employees try to complain to a manager over their supervisor's head, the manager's very first words should be, "Did your talk to your supervisor about this?" If the answer is no, the manager should send the employee back to the supervisor. (I'd be more lenient on an employee who's bypassing the chain of command for the first time.)

    Your situation will be out of control as long as the trouble-making employees know that they can get their boss in hot water with a half-baked complaint.

  • I agree with both the previous answers. I have been in this situation and found the meeting to be helpful. You may try a "sandwich" approach. Begin with addressing the good qualities, what you value about the employee. The meat would be discussion re the need to follow the chain of command and reinforce your expectations of behavior/conduct in the work place. End on a positive note re your confidence in the ability of person(s) to work together as a team and move forward. You might take the opportunity to ask for their imput. .what are their suggestions to make things better. They will feel more involved which may make it more difficult to criticize and may have some good ideas as to solutions. Good luck, it is not a fun place to be!

  • Your post does not say whether or not you are have a bargaining unit, but I assume you don't, and don't want one. Be sure that what you are addressing is not "protected concerted activity." When employees as a group complain about working conditions, or terms of employment, they are protected (even their "ring leaders") by the Labor Relations Act.

    I agree that an honest and straight forward talk with the "click leader" is in order. I would also recommend that you only deal with employees in this situation on a one on one basis, to avoid the appearance of concerted activity being recognized by the Company. I have spoken with this type of negative influence, and pointed out that not every work situation is suited to every person. I would carefully discuss the negative impact on productivity this person is having, and let them know that you can not afford to allow this to continue-but that he/she will determine the course of action you have to take by his/her choice of actions.

  • I think a frank talk is certianly in order, but I believe you must also back it up with disciplinary action. The blunt talk by itself has a high probability of being perceived as simply more evidence that "management" does not want to hear abotu problems and is not responsive. ("Just sweep it undser the carpet" kind of thing). To get the attention of the person, you must be willing to enforce the behavior exepctaitons, and do it early, before they believe they are invincible.

  • Do you have any type of employee/management committees you could ask this ring leader to join? If you get him involved in the problem solving process he might take more ownership of the companies policies and be less likely to gripe about them.

    Plus, its always possible he is aware of real problems that should be addressed.

    Good luck!

  • I agree with Paul. You can not afford to assume that this employee is simply a malcontent. You need to explore the possibility that there is a real problem, probably unstated, that needs to be addressed.

    I had an employee like this in a union shop in Florida once. We ended up promoting him to a supervisory position with great success. He now manages a complete facility in south Texas.
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