The Sullen Worker

Sullen Worker
By Isaac E

You may be in an established company that has grown large with many employees, middle managers or executives. But, the sullen worker is a continued threat lurking in the shadows to your business.

The Sullen Worker

The first thing you must understand that nobody starts off as a surly worker. You could contribute the behavior to an experience with a past employer, and this is important that you may not have been initially responsible for creating this potential albatross. This type of worker tends to be negative, combative, and unappreciative of feedback. They rather not be led and does not work well with the rest of the team. The team is their strongest when they are working together. By leaving their personal goals aside and following the direction you as the leader sets. Yes, there are times where your management decisions are not supported wholeheartedly by your staff.

You as the leader should continue to seek feedback from your employees on concerns about direction. Once a member of your team feels as though the relationship is one-sided they will fall back into a cocoon and hold their thoughts and ideas that can improve the business from you. This event weakens the team because you are not achieving optimal performance. However, you as the manager or director are responsible for outcomes, and therefore the direction must be something you are comfortable with even if your staff is not entirely on board.

Managing A Difficult Employee

As mentioned in the previous paragraph communication between you and your employees is vital. A disgruntled employee’s anger is channeled to positive energy if they feel important. You should spend more time with this worker sitting down and talking to them in an honest and frank conversation. The employee must know their attitude is reflecting negatively on the rest of the staff. You should be direct about consequences if this behavior does not change. If not addressed an upset employee continues to stew, and they will spark unrest in others, and this will lead to multiple team members not on board with your vision and eventually a sharp decrease in productivity which threatens the business.

You must squelch unruly behavior from the employee. This leadership is imperative to the overall team and company’s success. After the conversation, you should continue to be open to the employee about their performance good and bad. Also, offer them an opportunity for implementation of their ideas that align with yours. The sullen worker’s threat will over time diffuse. However, keep in mind that this behavior may not be gone forever and you must avoid allowing the employee to fall back into old habits. As a leader, you must continue to take a proactive management style.

Sounds Like Coddling

For some managers, the thought of doing this seems like coddling and not in tune with their beliefs in leadership and that is fine. Your best step then is to move on from the employee, and that does not mean termination. However, a dismissal of the employee is a possible option. You can also try to move the worker to another department within the company or to a different position under a different managerial style. The important thing to remember is you as the leader set the direction and this needs adherence to by all otherwise you are not truly leading.

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