A HBR article I read this morning stated that when a team member procrastinates or displays a bad attitude, there’s a real risk of social contagion that drags down the morale and productivity of those around them. This is something I've witnessed in the past with different managers taking different approaches to it. It got me wondering what the best approach to this situation is, I've had "no nonsense" managers simply decide that its best to replace the individual team member quickly and I've seen a more wrap around approach of trying to coach them out of the bad attitude. Is there a correct approach or should it be case by case? and if so how long do you spend trying?

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  • Great question Jonathan

    As with a lot of HR, I guess it depends!

    On the context, the culture, the supply and demand of labour, critical skill level of the role.

    But I did find an interesting article here on this very topic:


    From a personal perspective we work with a lot of SMEs generally 100 employees or less, and generally speaking they do not have the time to spare on coaching employees and typically this would be dealt with as a capability matter.  It can be very stressful for employers, the team and the employee concerned to deal with this.

    What are your thoughts on this one?

    All the best



    Leadership Challenge: How Long Do You Coach a Bad Attitude?
    Leadership challenge I am often asked: How Long Do You Coach a Bad Attitude? You don't. You inspire positive attitudes to success. Here's why and how.

      Thanks for the reply Sarah!


      I will most certainly take a read of that article on my next train commute. 

      My line of work also involves working with mainly SMEs and I also see the stress it takes on a business when they try to coach employees continuously. I do believe that a business has a duty to provide the initial coaching to at least try to get all new employees to fit the expected business model/standard. I think it’s always going to be personal to each manager (and also dependant on business size and budget) on how much coaching they can and are willing to provide.

      I encountered this recently with a business who on paper and during an interview employed the perfect candidate for the role, however after about 2 months it became apparent that the candidate didn’t fit the team dynamic & had potentially exaggerated her own skill set (commonly done these days) on paper and during the interview. The manager at the time initiated some additional coaching with clear paths & targets set for the employee. However again it quickly became clear that the employee was not taking on any of the coaching and it was actually having a negative effect on the employee’s attitude. After this more 1:1 sessions management were at a bit of a loss on what to do, by now the employee was now showing a lack of respect for management (had essentially become unmanageable). The employee had begun to alienate herself from the rest of her team and was taking noticeable time off (a mixture of annual leave, working from home & sick days). Naturally this had taken an adverse effect on her work and the standard that was being produced. Targets began to slip and again the management stepped in to see if there was anything that could be done, however by this point the employee saw any criticism or help as negative and didn’t respond well. At this point all available resources exhausted and an employee who’s infectious attitude was effecting the rest of the team there was no other option but to look at terminating the contract. In a stroke of luck before any of this process could begin the employee handed her notice in citing she had found a better job. I was fortunate enough to sit in on a team meeting after this had happened and heard from the team their thoughts on the situation and what had been a long and stressful year for most. Obviously the general consensus was that people were happy she was leaving as the felt her presence had created such a negative impact on the team as a whole. Management was happy as they get to try again and learn from these mistakes. In this instance it was clear that management had tried pretty much everything to coach the employee however nothing ever worked.

      There would be management meetings afterwards that would look at their coaching they provided to see if it was an adequate amount and if the style was correct and hopefully this gives the company an opportunity to create a proper structure for dealing with this in the future. In my opinion I think it went on for too long, a year is a lot of time to take on coaching an employee especially if it doesn’t work!

      I find it really interesting discovering different companies approach to this as I’ve not found one completely the same.

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