I was talking with some business owners recently about a passive-aggressive employee. While it is easiest to ignore the behavior, it takes a toll upon the organization. Here’s some of the advice I gave them:
What’s passive-aggressive behavior?
Employees could be passive-aggressive if they mask their anger or hostility by acting out in non-aggressive ways that are meant to sabotage or control others while taking the focus off themselves.
What do to with them?
- Be direct – Don’t let the behavior continue. Passive-aggressive behavior steals energy & resources, and wears on your staff. Allowing passive-aggressive behavior creates a negative culture, which is a downward spiral of employee absences and turnover.
- Work with that person – Talk with the person to find a solution that is best for everyone in the organization. If they deny there’s a problem, give them examples of how their behavior has cost the organization time & money – use facts. Be honest and compassionate. Focus on the future.
- Discuss consequences – Discuss the implications of their behavior not changing. Again, be clear on the possible next steps if they don’t change their behavior.
- Clarify expectations – Be clear on what is acceptable and non-acceptable behaviors at work. The more specific you are, the better off you will be in future discussions.
- Control your emotions – While you may be frustrated, remain calm and in control during all of your interactions.
- Monitor regularly – Set up regular check-in meetings to ensure the person is moving in the right direction. Recognize progress in the positive direction. Be consistent in how you react to and treat this person.
- Remember you can’t change others – Work with this person to get them to want to change. You can’t make anyone change.
Great leaders do not let passive-aggressive behaviors continue. They tackle the problem head on!
Do you have a passive-aggressive employee and need some coaching? Contact me: Valerie.MacLeod@HainesCentre.com