What To Do When You’ve Tried Everything

Bad employees are the bane of many a business owner or managers’ existence. A simple yet needling comment such as, “There is no such thing as bad employees, only bad managers,” to your requests for improved performance can be frustrating and annoying. Plus, bad employees are known for being highly litigious. So how do you work with someone who seems not to care?

Bad Employees Meet Good Behavior

Take a cue from first-year Psychology classes. The Law of Attraction (otherwise known as Like-Attracts-Like) is a powerful behavioral modification method. The example used in the introduction of this article may actually have some merit to it – even if you are loathing to admit it. It is your responsibility as a manager to find out for sure. Are you doing anything that your bad employees may be mirroring? Negative attitudes and framing, tardiness and poor work habits are easy targets, but there may be more insidious situations at play. Be the person that makes everyone’s day (even when delivering not-so-exciting news) and you’re off to a great start.

Look at the Big Picture


Think back a bit to when you were still in school. Do you remember how frustrating it was to have marks taken away for writing your name in the wrong place? Wasn’t it more than a bit irritating, knowing that the content of your work was less important than the minutiae? Try and keep this same thought in mind when working with bad employees. It’s not how bad employees get the work done that really matters; providing solid goals and allowing under-achievers to meet them, is.

Schedule Your Motivation

It’s hard for managers to remember that every employee, great or otherwise, requires regular, ongoing and timely feedback. Working with your staff to ensure they know how to produce positive results now and in the future is so important that it needs to be scheduled. Make time to add motivational reminders and check-ins in your daily planning schedule and project tasks and you’ll see dramatic results in the way your bad employees interact with you.

In the end, managers perform a lot of duties in the course of the day, and motivating staff is merely one of them. Working with bad employees may feel more like babysitting some days, but the payoffs of seeing a previously so-called ‘write-off’ do a 180 merely because you’ve changed the interaction is well worth the investment.