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How to Reprimand an Employee Regarding Their Attitude

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Addressing an employee's bad attitude is vital for a manager. Not only can you improve the overall performance of that worker, you may mitigate customer complaints and the potential to lose good employees.

Review Your Policies

Your policy manual is a critical guide to an effective reprimand. It outlines for employees the company's policies and the consequences for violating them. To safely discipline an employee and avoid legal repercussions for unfair labor practices, you need to communicate or show how his behavior or performance violates company policy, according to a June 2012 Business Management Daily article. In general, it is tough to simply say, "You have a bad attitude." It is more effective to identify the behavior policies or role expectations provided to the worker.

Have a Plan

In advance of your reprimand, develop a plan detailing those problem behaviors, whom they affect, how they affect them, why they are problematic and what you expect the employee to do. Outlining your plan on paper helps protect against a vague or ineffective message and reduces the potential that your reprimand becomes personal. Having documentation of complaints, poor performance or behaviors that violate policy supports your case when delivering the reprimand. Notes on any previous reprimands or evaluations that connect to the current message are helpful as well.

Invite Feedback

It may seem counterintuitive, but inviting the employee to offer feedback or concerns during a reprimand has value. In some cases, employees demonstrate bad attitudes when the work environment, compensation, colleagues or task frustrations trouble them. Rather than communicating their frustrations, employees display them in their poor attitude and related behaviors. Inviting feedback may allow you to more directly address the source of the attitude problem, reports Business Management Daily.

Address the Future

Regardless of the reason for the attitude, the point of the reprimand is that the worker's attitude and performance are negatively impacting the workplace. Clear and direct communication about the problem and your expectations going forward is the best approach, according to an August 2011 Forbes article. Depending on the severity of the behaviors or the number of previous reprimands, you want to outline what happens next. You might suggest a 90-day probation or review period during which you will evaluate whether the worker implements requests. In extreme situations, you might alert the worker that he needs to demonstrate certain behaviors or levels of performance to avoid a follow-up sanction, such as demotion or termination. Offer coaching and training to show an effort to help him develop.


Neil Kokemuller has been an active business, finance and education writer and content media website developer since 2007. He has been a college marketing professor since 2004. Kokemuller has additional professional experience in marketing, retail and small business. He holds a Master of Business Administration from Iowa State University.

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