What behaviours are you endorsing?


Does fear grip you when you think about have a difficult conversation with a particular staff member? Do you have some staff that you are afraid to manage because of their attitude and behaviours?   

Managing people can seem somewhat overwhelming at times.  It is both the most enjoyable and most difficult part of being a manager.   And when it gets too hard, or a dominant personality takes over you can sometimes feel like giving up.

As a manager, supervisor, or team leader, having to give feedback, criticise or discipline a staff member’s performance is a task that many dread.   However, your failure to do so properly will often “snowball” and have a negative impact on your entire team’s attitude, morale, motivation, and productivity. Your failure to establish clear behaviour and performance standards will, in turn, affect your own personal success as a manager.

We often talk to managers who don’t confront the undesirable behaviours of certain staff members and they say ‘that is just the way Sue is’ or ‘if I confront John he will probably file a personal grievance’ or ‘I just can’t be bothered dealing with the aggravation’. As managers you have an obligation to ensure that all staff are being treated fairly and that means being consistent in managing staff. Your team will be looking for you to manage performance and behaviour – remember, the behaviour you walk past is what you’re happy to accept.

There is hope!  With brave and positive management, you can change attitudes and behaviours. Your failure to speak up or discipline can result in the appearance of unfairness to all concerned. Your productive staff see your control being undermined and feel taken advantage of while the problem staff member continues to take advantage of you. 

So what can you do change the unwanted behaviours of an individual?

  •  Tackle the behaviour head on. Tell you employee that their behaviour is not acceptable in your workplace. If you don’t want a certain behaviour in your workplace, then you can change that.
  • Communicate to the staff member about how you feel about their attitude and behaviours.  Let them know that you won’t tolerate it any longer and that if it persists you will have to take further action.  Give them examples and evidence of what you’re seeing and what impact it’s having on the business.
  • Reward good behaviour and ensure that staff who are exhibiting the types of behaviour you want are acknowledged for that.
  • Show your productive employees that you are in control before the undesired behaviour takes root and becomes part of your staff’s culture.
  • Say ‘no’. When the staff member asks for something that is a discretionary reward then say no. If they haven’t earnt the privilege and are coming to you knowing you will back down then saying ‘no’ sends the powerful message that you’re a strong leader.

Leading means setting the example you want to see in others. There’s no fear in that, is there? It’s easy to talk yourself out of doing something, why not spend a little extra time talking yourself into doing something – you might be surprised by the results!


About Author

Senga Allen

Human Resource Specialist and Managing Director, Everest People. Waikato and BOP people and culture specialists. www.everestpeople.co.nz