Managing Net-Negative Employees

Managing Net-Negative
Colleagues at Work
Some Practical Strategies for Dealing Effectively
with a Critical Organizational Challenge1,2,3
A Presentation for
Holzer Health Systems
Kendall L. Stewart, MD, MBA, DLFAPA
November 20, 2012
intend to offer you several practical ideas you can use tomorrow.
let me know whether I succeeded on your evaluation forms.
3These employees represent the most difficult end of the Bell Curve.
Why is this important?
• Leaders exist to produce
exceptional results.
• Net-negative employees are the
second most important obstacle
to our success.
• The first obstacle is our own
failure to identify and
appropriately manage these
• This presentation will enable
you to
– Identify them, and
– Manage them expertly.
• This presentation will not make
this easy.
• But it will show you the way.1,2
• After listening to this
presentation, you will be able
to answer the following
– How do net-negative employees
– What are some of the myths
about these people?
– What are some of the barriers to
managing net-negative people?
– What are three practical
strategies for managing them
– Why should you follow this
– How can you do it?
a psychiatrist, I am very good at figuring out what is wrong and what needs to be done.
woman consulted me for anxiety but declined to follow my advice.
How do exceptional colleagues
They come to work early and stay
late without complaining.
They view problems as
opportunities to improve.
They are positive by nature, but
they are realistic.
They tell the truth even when it
They talk to others instead of
talking about others.
You are always happy to see them
on the schedule.
They disagree agreeably.
They follow the rules—even when
no one is watching.
Just running into them makes your
cusses have always inspired me.
man went to apply for social security but forgot his wallet.
They do not expect special
They are passionate about
achieving and sustaining
exceptional results.
They are open to change when it
makes sense.
They ask and answer the hard
They are always seeking to learn,
grow and improve.
They routinely go the extra mile.
Their enthusiasm is infectious.
They have fun.
Slackers and miserable cusses
despise them.1,2
How do average colleagues behave?
Their attendance is fair-to-good.
They are loyal most of the time.
They are easily influenced by the
They complain about problems, but
they don’t usually suggest solutions.
They usually follow the rules—if they
know someone might be watching.
They want everybody to be happy.
They want things to go well, and they
believe that is the manager’s job.
They don’t mix work and home—
except at work.
They want to know exactly what is
expected of them.
all long for magical transformations.
farmer and his son saw an elevator for the first time.
They like to learn—if it’s fun, easy and
They are positive—when they are
around positive people.
They work to live; they do not live to
They do what they have to do and
sometimes go above and beyond.1,2
They are caring, kind and goodhearted.
They are easily distracted.
They need extra attention,
encouragement and support.
They hate being put in the middle, but
that is where they live.
How do net-negative colleagues
They are negative and miserable
most of the time.
They bring others down.
They complain and whine.
They point out problems in a
negative way.
They undermine their leaders.
They are often hardworking and
contemptuous of those who don’t
share their passions and
They live to game the system and
get their way.
They stir the pot behind the
They talk about people instead of
to them.
what you now know, would you hire this person again?
you would not, this person is net-negative. (Studer, 2008)
They are often intelligent and
skilled clinicians—and bitterly
dismissive of the idiots they have
to work with.
They expect special treatment—
because they are special.
They are passive-aggressive.
They love the “We-They” position.
They are cynical and disparage all
efforts to improve as “crap.”
They believe they can outlast the
leader—and they often do.
They only follow the rules they
They take nonverbal
contemptuous communication to a
whole new level.
What are some of the myths about
net-negative colleagues?
• They can be safely ignored.
• No one pays any attention to them
• They enjoy being miserable.
• They will eventually leave on their
• They are bad people.
• They bring a helpful difference of
• You can’t get by without them.
• You can’t afford to get rid of them
until you find replacements.
• They never change.
people appear to be genetically predisposed to be miserable.
Georgia farmer complained about his wife’s weight.
What are some of the barriers to
managing net-negative colleagues?
• Confronting them is very unpleasant.
• They are frequently the best workers you’ve got.
• They are so secretive it’s hard to get the goods on
• Their colleagues complain about them, but won’t
take a stand.
• When under fire, they can behave perfectly until
you move on to something else.
• They always have a reason for acting the way they
• It’s always someone else’s fault.1,2,3
• They are usually opinion leaders.
• They are often powerful or politically wellconnected.
surgeon stomped out of surgery because some equipment didn’t work.
I called him about his patients who were waiting, he only wanted to discuss the equipment malfunction.
3Another surgeon came in to complain that the Director of Surgical Services wouldn’t speak with him.
What practical process will enable you to manage
net-negative colleagues effectively?1,2
Make the case for getting serious about
this to your executives and board.
Obtain their unqualified support.
Identify the net-negative employees.
Set a deadline for completing the initial
confrontation and its documentation.
Make an appointment with the
Make it clear this appointment will be
about their job performance.
Inform the employees that you need to
speak frankly but that you do not wish to
be hurtful.
Ask them to listen without interrupting
until you have finished.
Make notes, use them and stick to them.
Inform these employees that you
currently view them as net-negative.
Explain what that term means.
Detail the behaviors that have caused you
to reach that conclusion.
Make it clear that unless they change
these behaviors permanently, they will
lose their jobs.
Tell them that it was your goal to let them
know exactly where they stand.
Ask them if you succeeded.
Invite their clarifying questions.
Do not allow yourself to be distracted.
Send them a letter immediately
documenting exactly what you said.
Submit your documentation to your HR
Monitor those employees who remain
(and their leaders!) indefinitely.
process is to follow the process; if we don’t have a process, our process is to design and deploy a process.
is the slide you may want to print and post in your office.
Why should you tackle this
• It is a real problem.
• Dealing with it is hard; your willingness to step
up will give your organization a clear competitive
• You will decrease the turnover of your netpositive people.
• You will increase morale immediately.
• You will increase your credibility as a leader.
• You will send a strong message to those leaning
to the negative side.
• You will create the kind of organizational culture
that produces results.
• You will attract better people to the organization.
have had the opportunity to confront powerful colleagues several times in my career.
this opportunity arises, you will be amazed at how fellow leaders head for the hills.
How can you do it?1,2
• Get all the key leaders in the room.
• Admit this is a serious problem.
• Admit to each other how you have put this off and
how much you would like to keep on avoiding
dealing with the problem.
• Extract a commitment from everyone to deal with
this and to see it through.
• Agree on the process.
• Agree on timelines.
• Follow the process.
• Hold yourselves and other leaders accountable.
• Watch for leaders to “decide” that the netnegative people are no longer net-negative.
me describe how SOMC leaders actually did this.
August 2008, we have identified 9.9% of our workforce as net-negative, and 49.3% have terminated. (Noel, 2012)
What have we learned?
• Most of us harbor net-negative
people in our organizations.
• They are cancers and they are
• Unchallenged, they will kill your
organizational will to succeed.
• These are not easy problems to fix.
• But you can and must address them.
• Following a fair and proven
process—in spite of the way you
feel—is the answer.1,2,3
• Their victims will thank you for it.
absolutely cannot allow their feelings to call the shots.
experienced deep regret about my decision to move to Portsmouth.
3Then I heard the voice of God in Kmart.
Where can you learn more?
Join the discussion about practical approaches to more effective
leadership on the SOMC Leadership Blog.
Learn more about Southern Ohio Medical Center here.
Review and download this presentation and related presentations
and white papers here.
Read Results That Last: Hardwiring Behaviors That Will Take Your
Company to the Top to review some leadership strategies that
successful health care executives have embraced.
Learn more about how to confront others effectively by reading A
Portable Mentor for Organizational Leaders.
Review practical techniques for conducting crucial conversations in
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High.
Consider adding the practical and comprehensive Successful
Manager’s Handbook to your personal library.
How can you contact me?1
Kendall L. Stewart, M.D.
VPMA and Chief Medical Officer
Southern Ohio Medical Center
Chairman & CEO
The SOMC Medical Care Foundation, Inc.
1805 27th Street
Waller Building
Suite B01
Portsmouth, Ohio 45662
[email protected]
[email protected]
and consultation fees benefit the SOMC Endowment Fund.
Are there other questions?1,2,3
Safety  Quality  Service  Relationships  Performance 
are the SOMC leaders who oversee this innovative process. They would welcome your questions.
Noel, VP for HR and Organizational Development, [email protected]
3Kendall Applegate, Director of Human Resources, [email protected]

similar documents