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Good employee with bad attitude - need some sage advice

DPM

Plastic
Joined
Mar 11, 2013
Location
Pomona
When I first identify someone with a poor attitude, I set a deadline, and begin working to help them overcome it (behavior takes time to change). If they have not shown improvement by the deadline (6-12 months typically), I release them.

Thanks for the wise words. I'll pick up a copy of that book. Can you share some of the techniques you use when working on behavioral issues?
 

Mcgyver

Diamond
Joined
Aug 5, 2005
Location
Toronto
My shop consists of myself and one employee. He's been working here for 3 years and he's been extensively trained over time and I consider him the best and most valuable employee I've ever had. He produces and contributes greatly to the shop output. But here's the rub... He's a moody guy and carries a chip on his shoulder. At times, it's difficult to approach the guy on matters because he wants to challenge or question my reasoning and he will sometimes snap back. His bad attitude generally pollutes the work environment on a daily basis unless he's in a good mood.
I'm at a point in my life where I want peace and tranquility in my life and I dread this kind of crap.

Not sure if I should keep the guy and deal with it or find a new employee and start all over again.

I'm looking for some sage advice from others who have been in similar situations.

I’m not walking in your shoes so don’t really know, and how do you analyze someone from a paragraph?….. but from what you wrote, I’m thinking “ Give your head a shake”.

When I read bad attitude, I thought, yeah, nothing worse than a caustic prick to hurt a culture. Then I read you had one employee! What? You’re the leader, the boss, the owner and are supposed to set the tone and rise above being brought down by negativity or letting emotions effect your work. So if you don’t include yourself, his bad behaviour/bad attitude is affecting a team of one?

Weigh that against the fact that he’s your best employee ever, is productive and trained. Would you rather have a yes sir no sir smiler who screwed up half the parts?

Being a manager is like coaching a kid’s team. You don’t get perfect kids or even get to pick them in many cases. But the winning coach's is the one can get the best out of each kid. So figure out how to get the best out of him.

I want employees who push back and argue. 10x better than a BDMF (Brian Dead Mother F…. and new acronym I’m trying to launch…please support the cause :D ) who doesn’t think or speak up. Has he ever had a good idea? Have you ever acknowledge it or said yeah lets try it that way?

Or instead of going to him and telling him how want something done, say “I need _____, what do you think?” or “how would you do it”. It’s a very effective tactic to make something the others person idea to get their buy in, sales 101 (and management is selling)

It might just be that he isn’t a BDMF and needs a bit of recognition for or inclusion in a discussion; might make him feel better about things. The truth is, no matter how much of a hard ass grumpy old school no BS sort of person one is, deep down, EVERYBODY wants to feel good about themselves and delivering on that, providing a workplace that delivers on that, can go a long toward bringing out the best in them.

If none of that works, who cares. You emotionally/mentally rise above it and there are no other employees to be negatively affected.
 
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michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
QT Op: My shop consists of myself and one employee. He's been working here for 3 years and he's been extensively trained over time and I consider him the best and most valuable employee I've ever had. He produces and contributes greatly to the shop output. But here's the rub.

because he wants to challenge or question my reasoning and he will sometimes snap back.

The Op should definitely fire a guy who has an opinion about how things are done...
Get a guy who says yes sir to everything, and does the letter of what you say.

I think the Op never came back with what that big argument was about.

Was it about grinding precision rolls by hand on a bench grinder?

*Remember that this is a 2 man shop.

If I was the boss's boss I would tell him to log each disagreement subject, in two sentences or less..then after a period of two weeks, I would fire one of them.

The Op could state here what the last few disagreements were about...

It is hard to make judgments or give advice with only hearing one side of a story.

In California, I would not keep an unstable personality worker for fear he might go berserk and come in to kill someone...Guess any place that pertains.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
One solution might be for the Op to ask the worker to write down any process suggestions, so the owner could take the time to evaluate. Buy the guy a nice notebook and a pen.
"You Have a lot of good ideas, but often I don't have time to think about changes right off the bat."
That might take away the arguing.

Could be the two bulls on the same field scenario. Both think they are right.
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
I was the maintenance dept,and there was always a stream of complaint ,abuse,and general whining from the labourers about this or that......One of the bosses was a softie and used to go along with these idiots "for a quiet life"...anyhoo,there was a staff meeting with a professional counsellor .....and this asshole tried to counsel me.....I said hey,I hope ya got a good toolkit cause youll need it when I walk out.........Then they decided all complaints about the equipment would be put into a "bound book",and I would have to action the complaint and make a notarized entry in the book.........not a single one of these assholes could put anything in writing,not a single entry from idiots who had a dozen complaints a day.....So I started filling in the book with observed incidents of machinery abuse by operators......The boss gets the book for his monthly perusal,initials each entry without even reading it.....just tick ,tick ,tick...........Then the safety auditors get hold of the book at years end Talk about SHTF.
 

DPM

Plastic
Joined
Mar 11, 2013
Location
Pomona
There was no argument. The guy flipped out over a simple question as to how something broke. He apologized the next day and I left it at that.
In the past few years I have realized that I can't keep going on by being a slave to my business. I realized that I needed employees who would be with me for the long haul so that they could gain experience and skill level in order to be able to tackle things that I would normally find myself dealing with on the shop floor. I have trained this guy and set aside my personal differences in this effort and let alot of stuff slide that I normally wouldn't. Treated him well in both pay and professionalism. I thought that was the way to go. It hasn't happened like I thought it would. Maybe at the end of the day this guy is just not a good fit and that may be the end of him and time for someone new.
But I do ask this: how do you keep an employee happy and also keep them from going sour? What are the real things that may have helped you as an owner in this regard or even as an employee?
 

thewynner98

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 20, 2021
There was no argument. The guy flipped out over a simple question as to how something broke. He apologized the next day and I left it at that.
In the past few years I have realized that I can't keep going on by being a slave to my business. I realized that I needed employees who would be with me for the long haul so that they could gain experience and skill level in order to be able to tackle things that I would normally find myself dealing with on the shop floor. I have trained this guy and set aside my personal differences in this effort and let alot of stuff slide that I normally wouldn't. Treated him well in both pay and professionalism. I thought that was the way to go. It hasn't happened like I thought it would. Maybe at the end of the day this guy is just not a good fit and that may be the end of him and time for someone new.
But I do ask this: how do you keep an employee happy and also keep them from going sour? What are the real things that may have helped you as an owner in this regard or even as an employee?
My question is are you expecting him to make boss level decisions and not allowing him the ego/attitude that goes with that. I view employees two ways and although i am a one man shop here is what ive observed. You have workers and you have people above that. Some guys come in say yes sir and collect their check and go home they dont care about money profits etc. They might care about their machine and their productivity if their good but beyond that they dont care. Then you have your higher group. They think for themselves don't need you too hold their hand and correct themselves on the fly. Problem with these guys is they would have their own shop if money or home life allowed. So two bulls in one pasture. If the guy is productive and you like his work stay out of his way and enjoy your extra home time without so much stress. If you dont like his work then can him. But don't put a guy in charge and give him freedom to run the shop and then yank his chain when he pushes back. Most good foreman I've worked under will straight up tell the owner to go to hell if the owner is micromanaging. Give him space or get rid of him is my .02. If your not comfortable letting him run it can him and find a yes man. Personally id rather have a guy that pushes back.

Sent from my LM-V600 using Tapatalk
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
A guy who worked for me was a been there done that type...and he had some much sought after advice (for those pre net days )about the care and management of Asian wives,and where to find a good Asian wife......I always thought he would be a better manager of my business than me.......he always refused to have anything to do with it.
 

michiganbuck

Diamond
Joined
Jun 28, 2012
Location
Mt Clemens, Michigan 48035
That’s militarism. Is there a war in your country that orders need to be given and obeyed? The employee has a brain and a will, better make use of it.

Sounds like DPM needs a guy more like that, for this worker to more often do the task and have less to say.
This is about a two-man shop..not the world or my country.

Stress every day, or often should not happen. One or both of these people are wrong.

DPM could fire the guy, Tolerate the stress to continue making money by use of this guy's high talents, find a way to get along with this guy.

DPM could buy a few Dale Carnegie books, and they both read the books.

Dale Carnegie Books | List of books by author Dale Carnegie
 

Thunderjet

Hot Rolled
Joined
Jun 24, 2019
But I do ask this: how do you keep an employee happy and also keep them from going sour? What are the real things that may have helped you as an owner in this regard or even as an employee?

To be clear here, I'm NOT an owner, but work closely with one. He's very gifted mechanically, and electrically, as well as being an overall outstanding manager of people.

I think he would answer your question this way, Find challenging options/tasks for the guy to concentrate on in his spare time. Most folks like him (and probably me) need to keep the turbo spooled up, so to speak. I have three to four projects going at any one time. These are not pressing, but are a opportunity to try to do things in a different, more efficient way.

If you can let him know that his ideas are valuable, it tends to keep the sour bug at bay.

JMHO
 

reggie_obe

Titanium
Joined
Jul 11, 2004
Location
Reddington, N.J., U.S.A.
You run a two man shop. Your employee doesn't think of himself as an employee.
If you can't straighten that out and can't let him go, you'll continue to suffer for the monster you created.
 

vincent eggleton

Aluminum
Joined
Jun 28, 2016
I think firing him maybe the easy thing for the older guys to say for a way out but I wonder if it really is the best answer.

If he contributes so much does he have a salary to match? Does he think he is underpaid and over worked? Does his challenges ask WHY and WHY to know your reasoning?

I have worked for people for way under what I was worth and was very happy to leave at the end of the day too. I am a guy in my 30's who has only had a few employees so this is a good one for me to watch and learn what other older guys have said.

One more question you may know if your shop is small is what is his home life like? sour wife sour life? Drugs or alcohol problems in the family?

I don't have a good answer but I would hire a 2nd guy and start training him on this guys days off or else supervise and keep them separated until you know what way you want to go.
 

thewynner98

Aluminum
Joined
Jul 20, 2021
I think firing him maybe the easy thing for the older guys to say for a way out but I wonder if it really is the best answer.

If he contributes so much does he have a salary to match? Does he think he is underpaid and over worked? Does his challenges ask WHY and WHY to know your reasoning?

I have worked for people for way under what I was worth and was very happy to leave at the end of the day too. I am a guy in my 30's who has only had a few employees so this is a good one for me to watch and learn what other older guys have said.

One more question you may know if your shop is small is what is his home life like? sour wife sour life? Drugs or alcohol problems in the family?

I don't have a good answer but I would hire a 2nd guy and start training him on this guys days off or else supervise and keep them separated until you know what way you want to go.
I have run into that under most employers. I ask why not as a challenge but to know where your head is at. Most bosses including myself are defensive however so I 100% get that too

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john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
Ive seen a lot more bosses of small shops with what Id call a bad attitude than employees......In fact the reason a lot of guys start their own business is they are too abrasive and argumentative to hold a job...........and my question is when the boss is a know it all poser ,is trying to get the right thing done bad attitude?..
 

kustomizer

Titanium
Joined
Aug 17, 2007
Location
North Fork Idaho
Ive seen a lot more bosses of small shops with what Id call a bad attitude than employees......In fact the reason a lot of guys start their own business is they are too abrasive and argumentative to hold a job...........and my question is when the boss is a know it all poser ,is trying to get the right thing done bad attitude?..

I suppose I resemble both sides of that coin as do may many of us.
 

Plane Parts

Aluminum
Joined
Apr 21, 2019
My shop consists of myself and one employee. He's been working here for 3 years and he's been extensively trained over time and I consider him the best and most valuable employee I've ever had. He produces and contributes greatly to the shop output. But here's the rub... He's a moody guy and carries a chip on his shoulder. At times, it's difficult to approach the guy on matters because he wants to challenge or question my reasoning and he will sometimes snap back. His bad attitude generally pollutes the work environment on a daily basis unless he's in a good mood.
I'm at a point in my life where I want peace and tranquility in my life and I dread this kind of crap.

Not sure if I should keep the guy and deal with it or find a new employee and start all over again.

I'm looking for some sage advice from others who have been in similar situations.

If he is a good employee just ignore it and take nothing personal. There is no reason to give his bad attitude power over your life. Remember. He works for YOU. HE makes YOU money. If he makes you money but is moody, who cares. If he give you bad attitude when you have to talk to him just say, "I'll come back after you change your tampon" of something snide like that. He may not even know he acts like an ass. Whatever you do DO NOT show any hint of intimidation. YOU'RE the boss. Not him.
 

CarbideBob

Diamond
Joined
Jan 14, 2007
Location
Flushing/Flint, Michigan
What to do?
On one hand It only takes one bad apple and you may not realize the amount of poison until too late.
On the other hand is you and some mismatch on personalities?
Being a boss can be so much ....fun,,challenging,,painful.
Everyone has a unique personality that is not yours.
Do you understand the why of conflict?
Bob
 

john.k

Diamond
Joined
Dec 21, 2012
Location
Brisbane Qld Australia
I worked for a complete idiot ....a rich idiot ,which is worse....he would detail stupid stuff he wanted ,and Id just ignore him,but when he asked how well his idea worked ,Id just lie to him,and say yeah ,great.....He would fire me ,and expect me to be at work next morning.....the business had up to 100 employees ,and he was mega rich ,which I wasnt......One time he accused me of stealing a spare part that was needed,and got really worked up about it...Thing was ,I hadnt stolen the part-it was of no use to me......but I had used half of it (it was a drive shaft) which was also a serious crime (robbing Peter to pay Paul)
 








 
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