How to control bad behaviour

Drew Stevens

I recall a situation when I was working at a job and every morning I stated my good morning to this one particular women she constantly provided me with a sour face. You know one of those when you bite into a lemon. She appeared constantly distant and negative. After asking many people in the company if I were the root cause they mentioned to me that she was a very negative person. After continually prodding to determine her issue I found out that she was a) carrying baggage to work and b) had many issues with the organization and her manager. Worse she was carrying this negativity with her throughout the day.  

In looking at this issue further I find that negative issues stem from:

Limiting beliefs. The main cause of negative attitude is wrong beliefs about life or certain aspects of it. You see the life through your beliefs and if your beliefs are negative, you will see your life as unhappy or downright pointless. Limiting beliefs hold back those individuals that seek promotion and advancement simply because they thrive on both victimhood and the negative environment. When they cannot see the positive side of things it only enhances their negativity.

Negative family/friends. It seems that your friends and family affect how you feel and if your family is negative, they cause your bad attitude. That’s, however, not the case because only you can decide how you feel. I know this may seem unreal to those who hear it for the first time, but you and only you can decide how to react to anything that happens to you.

There are two families in your life – work and immediate. Each in its own way will annoy and frustrate but it is helpful to compartmentalize. Do not bring family frustrations to work and do not bring work frustrations home. Managers should emphasize these principles to employees.

Negative environment. If you do not see the relation between your thoughts and the environment that you find yourself in, it’s no surprise that you assume that you have no power to change it. So when you think you are powerless over your environment and your environment is negative, that causes your negative attitude. This powerlessness comes from 1) an individual desire to limit their actions in the comfort zone or said differently their desire to take risk. 2) There are times where the culture and the leadership establish some degrees of negativity. Although there is fault on both sides there are times when leadership will play an integral role in a negative environment.  


Here is a checklist for managers to help establish a better culture to reduce bad attitudes:

  • No trust – There is a direct correlation between the individual’s work and the relationship with management. Poor relations with management make for a bad culture. When there is a poor relationship there is a lack of morale, which then plagues productivity. Get to know your staff. Take them to lunch do anything but take time to build relationships.
  • No respect – When relationships lack so does respect. I recall many years ago an individual during the 1990’s recession walking into their managers office to let them know they would be buying a house the following Monday and not only wanted the day off but wanted to ensure his job was safe so as not to impact his family. The following Monday the employee took the day off and walked into the office that Tuesday bright and happy about his new residence. He walked into the building only to find that he and his department got axed. He never trusted another manager again.
  • No leadership - Leaders need to act in harmony with employees and ensure equal treatment of all. Cultures where this practice occurs frequently include McDonalds, Fed Ex and UPS where employees and management are one. Herb Kelleher, Steve Jobs, and others all exist to build a culture where individuals are challenged and enjoy their workplace. These types of companies have a strategy that does not sit on a shelf all understand mission, vision and values. More importantly the organizations seeks constant innovation from employees such as Google that allows employees to work on cross functional projects or Best Buy that encourages a work-life balance.
  • No Communication - The foundation for every business, there can never be enough communication. Presently, with the proliferation electronic media including email, text messaging and social media, individuals are instantly updated on change. The spontaneity of real time should enable change wherever, however and whenever it is required.
  • No goals – Employees that lack direction are similar to new hikers that buy shoes and a compass while still getting lost in the woods. Managers must provide employees with a road map for success. They are the beacons which employees follow.
  • No vision – Ever work for a company only to sit behind your desk and wonder why are we hear? I recall many times doing so. One organization I worked for was a software company one day, a sales organization the next, a product company and so one. When employees do not comprehend the direction of the company it becomes very difficult to justify all the work.
  • No empowerment – Admittedly, some individuals based on personality and behavior do not like risk. Yet risk is what makes America great! From Edison to Ford to King to Kennedy each leader has taken risk for many years. In corporate America, Iacocca, Jobs, Gates, Hseih and Whitman are all senior officers from the organizations that have become part of pop culture – Google, Microsoft etc. Employees that are allowed to take risk are more productive. Employees that are more productive have a better morale.
  • No accountability – Simply put negative behavior begins when individuals are never held accountable. Individuals must be held to standards such as time arrival, days off and the numerous excuses they have. In addition they must be held to performance, which includes the use of performance improvement plans, management, by objectives and daily tasks.
  • No development or skills – one of the largest issues of organization is hiring the wrong people. I remember being given resumes at one point for an entry level selling position and all applicant from HR were those with Account Receivable backgrounds. You need to have the right people on the bus. People have the skills or don’t. Organizations have to stop hiring for behavior and start hiring for the innate skills people have.
  • The 5 C’s –
    • Communication
    • Cooperation
    • Confidence
    • Collaboration
    • Commitment


When managers communicate vision, mission and values to staff there is a sense of understanding priorities. As communication increases so does cooperation. Individuals know their place, their descriptions and their management by objectives. And when then understand they begin to cooperate amongst each other because of confidence. As cooperation builds so does collaboration. Stronger individuals will become small group leaders and pick up where others cannot. And when collaboration begins to grow it spurges commitment. The essence of cross-functional success is a close comfortable coordinated collaborative group of integrated cross-functional team members. If the members do not get along the team dissolves into chaos. Instead of working out problems, members bicker amongst themselves. Instead of one motto “one for all and all for one” it becomes a Darwinian approach of “every man for himself.”


There is no perfect system for mitigating bad attitudes but if you setup the correct environment then you will have a better understanding the root causes of bad attitudes.


About Contributor – Drew Stevens Ph.D. Drew Stevens PhD works with organizations that struggle with productivity that effects profits. Dr. Drew works with senior officers and their direction reports to dramatically increase relationships that build higher morale. He can be reached through his website at www.stevensconsultinggroup.com. © 2011. Drew Stevens PhD. All rights reserved.

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