Managing Bad Behavior

Karen Benz
BetterManager Executive Coach

July 16, 2018

Managers often ask for advice when dealing with difficult employee behavior. Examples include poor attitude/skills such as interpersonal communication and poor overall job performance.

Oftentimes, the manager will describe the situation, then will speculate as to why the behavior is happening. As coaches, we often hear managers say such things as, “He’s having a rough time at home. I want to give him some space.” Managers do this, I believe, because they generally care about those they manage. What we advise is to not speculate about the reasons, but rather, deal with the behavior in front of them that needs correcting.


When confronted with a challenging employee problem, less is best. State the problem and a solution. For example, “Your customer service skills need to improve. Specifically, when you are talking with customers, I would like to see you demonstrate more compassion and empathy for the customer and not be quite so harsh.”


Speaking with an employee about problematic behavior can be difficult and unpleasant. If a manager makes excuses for an employee, they will end up tolerating the problem behavior for too long. The consequences of this can be far-reaching. The manager’s effectiveness can be called into question by direct reports and higher level managers.

Episode Transcript

Posted on

July 16, 2018