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The Case of the Negative Employee

A top employee regularly looks for the bad in good. How should Suzi address his attitude and keep it from spreading?
By Nancy Hassel

Amorning scan of Facebook showed a post about an online pet store that donated products to a local animal rescue. Suzi was happy to see the news. She knew how much help they need for the pets in their care and regularly donated as well.

As the morning went on, Julia, a regular who is on the rescue’s board, came in with her dog.

“Morning, Suzi!”

“Morning, Julia!” Suzi leaned over the counter to hand her pup a treat. “Morning, Dakota. Here ya go.”

Julia said, “Did you hear the news about the donation?”

“I saw it on Facebook. It’s awesome,” Suzi replied.

“We are thrilled,” Julia exclaimed. “We have never had such a big donation before.”

As she continued on about the online pet store’s generosity, Suzi smiled and handed Dakota’s leash to Sean, who gave Suzi a near eye-roll and then walked the dog back to day care.

“OK, Julia, same time for pickup for today?” Suzi asked.

“Yes, see you later on, and Dakota was a bit gassy this morning — so maybe fewer treats today.”

“You got it,” Suzi assured. “I will let everyone know. Have a good day!”

EDITOR’S NOTE:
Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual businesses and people.

Sean returned and said, “Boy, Julia really went on and on about that donation. We have done so much for the rescue. What’s the big deal?”

“She was just happy about it,” Suzi said. “it’s a good thing.”

“But doesn’t that make you angry? You have given so much over the years, and never has she made such a big deal of it. We are a local business — Julia should be that vocal every time we help out,” Sean said.

As Suzi went about her day, she started to feel down about what Sean had said. He was right. She has donated a lot of money and products to the rescue over the years, and even encouraged employees to volunteer with the group.

But what really bothered Suzi was the way Sean, her top employee, often tried to make her feel like people were against her. He would bring up something and point out the negative — instead of recognizing the good. She had discussed with him how doing that was not useful or helpful. But he didn’t heed her direction.

At the end of the day, as Julia was leaving with Dakota, Suzi heard two of her other employees chatting about the donation and how much Suzi and her team have given without such accolades. They then mocked Julia and the rescue. Suzi could feel her blood pressure rising.

 

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

How should Suzi handle her top employee’s negative attitude?

If one person’s behavior is affecting the entire staff, what should she do?

How could Suzi get the rescue to make a bigger deal of her donations in the future?

 

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