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Handling negative behaviour > Handling negative behaviour - Pg. 589

Chapter 54 Handling People Problems 589 Dealing with the problem It is because there can be such a variety of real or imagined causes of negative behaviour that dealing with it becomes one of the most difficult tasks line managers and HR people have to undertake. If the action taken is crude or insensitive the negative behaviour will only be intensified. This might mean having to invoke the disciplinary procedure, which should be a last resort. In one sense, it is easier to deal with an actual example of negative behaviour. This can be handled on the spot. If the problem is one of general attitude rather than specific actions it is more difficult to cope with. Hard evidence may not be available. When individuals are accused of being, for example, gener- ally unenthusiastic or uncooperative, they can simply go into denial and accuse you of being prejudiced. Their negative behaviour may be reinforced. It is best to deal with this sort of problem informally, either when it arises or at any point during the year when it is felt that something has to be done about it. An annual formal performance review or appraisal meeting is not the right time, especially if it produces ratings that are linked to a pay increase. Raising the issue then will only put individuals on the defensive and a productive dis- cussion will be impossible. The discussion may be informal but it should have three clear objectives: 1 To review the situation with individuals, the aim being if possible to get them to recognize for themselves that they are behaving negatively. If this cannot be achieved, then the objective is to bring to the attention of individuals your belief that their behaviour is unacceptable in certain ways. 2 To establish the reasons for the individuals' negative behaviour so far as this is feasible. 3 To agree any actions individuals could take to behave more positively, or what you or the organization could do to remove the causes of the behaviour. happy with the support they get from you or their colleagues? Are they satisfied that they are pulling their weight to the best of their ability? This generalized start provides the basis for the next two stages ­ identifying the causes and remedies. It is best if individuals are encouraged to identify for themselves that there is a problem, but in many, if not the majority of cases, this is unlikely to happen. Individuals may not recognize that they are behaving negatively or will not be prepared to admit it. It is then necessary to discuss the problem. They should be given time to say their piece. The response should spell out how justifiable grievances will be dealt with or why no action is necessary. In the latter case, an explanation should be given as to why the individual's behaviour gives the impression of being negative. This should be specific, bringing up actual instances. For example, a discussion could be based on the following questions: `Do you recall yesterday's team meeting?', `How did you think it went?', `How helpful do you think you were in dealing with the problem?', `Do you remember saying... ?', `How helpful do you think that remark was?', `Would it surprise you to learn that I felt you had not been particularly helpful in the following ways... ?' Of course, even if this careful approach is adopted, individuals may still refuse to admit that there is anything wrong with their behaviour. If this impasse is reached, then there is no alternative but to spell out where it is believed they have gone wrong. But this should be done in a positive way: `Then I think that it is only fair for me to point out to you that your contribution (to the meeting) would have been more helpful if you had...'. Establishing causes If the negative behaviour is because of a real or imagined grievance about what the manager, col- leagues or the organization have done, then the individual has to be persuaded to spell this out as precisely as possible. At this point, the job of the manager or HR practitioner is to listen, not to judge. People can be just as angry about imaginary as real slights. You have to find out how they perceive the problem before you can deal with it. It may emerge during the discussion that the problem has nothing to do with the manager or the Discussing the problem The starting point should be general questions about how individuals feel about their work. Do they have any problems in carrying it out? Are they