- Look for negative patterns in employees.
- Have top leaders take responsibility for the relationship.
- Hold each other accountable to new agreements.
Oh no!! They are raising their hand again!!
The Negative Pattern
Your “negative” employee might be saying what they are feeling, but sometimes they have elected themselves to speak for others. They begin to use the “royal we” when they speak. for example, they say “We think there need to be space heaters in each office” or “We think there needs to be more communication.”
This small group often spends a lot of time gathering the complaints of others in order to voice them publicly. They see themselves as the representatives for the team, but usually seem to be unsatisfied and hard to please.
Top Leadership is Responsible
This calls for a top leader to start investing in the relationship with this particular person. It’s time for you, as that leader, to really understand them. The hope here is that you can retain them because they are human beings and they bring a lot of value to your workspace.
But you also need to know if they are toxic and begin to make some real agreements with them in order to solve some problems.
Managing professional relationships is the most important job of a leader. The person you are dealing with might directly report to a manager, but it is up to someone in top leadership to invest in this person. After that investment has been made, interactions can slow down, but the relationship needs some work.
You, as the leader, need to ask this employee deep questions and paraphrase the answers to those questions. Doing this helps your employee feel heard. When you have a good understanding of their actual complaints ask them what agreements they need from you, but also advocate for the agreements you need from them.
This is a Two-Way Street!
When you have these agreements in place, put them in writing. You both need to be committed. Then revisit these agreements with this person every month or so until you feel like there has been some actual growth and repair. The revisiting keeps the humanity there. This employee needs to see you as a human and vice versa. You need to hold each other accountable to your agreements, but be flexible to change them if they turn out to be impossible.
After some time, you can make the ultimate decision to retain this person and keep having them as an amazing contributor to your organizational community. On the other hand you can decide if it is time for a change.
This process is humanizing and humanization is restoration.