Friday Leadership Challenge #2’s
Friday Leadership Lessons Blog Challenge

Welcome to’s Friday Leadership Lessons Blog Challenge. Answer the following question (as a comment below) with “what would you do?” for a chance to win a FREE COPY OF the beautiful hard-cover gift book Walk the Talk.

NOW, here is the question … As a manager/person in charge of a group, what would you do in the following situation?

You have been noticing that team/group members have been engaging in a lot of negative talk/complaining about the job and others. All of the negative talk has been creating a “toxic” environment that is starting to affect performance.  How would you address the issue and get everyone back to working together on the important tasks of the organization?

Comment below (by Midnight Sunday 3/4) with your answer for a  chance to win a Walk The Talk gift book. Winner will be announced here and contacted via email next week. Anyone can enter but we can only ship the winning book to a U.S. address. Thank you for your response.

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  • Erika

    Depends….if this is a new behavior, I would probably ask him to lunch and address is a personal way. Maybe something is going on in his life that is causing all the delays and such. If this has been something that has been going on for a while and is starting to affect his job performance, I would discuss in a more professional way saying that his behavior is unacceptable and needs to be corrected and see how he responds.

  • Rebecca

    I would document his tardiness and once I realized this was becoming a reoccurring issue, I would let him know that I wanted to have a meeting with him, and tell him what the meeting is about. I would let him know that on those specific dates he was late and inform him that it is starting to affect his productivity. During that meeting we would discuss the reasons why he’s late and what we can do to improve upon the issue at hand.

  • Stephanie Nash

    I would first and foremost privately ask John to breakfast or lunch or a meeting place away from the office. I want it as non-confrontational, and as private as possible as to place John in a position to completely feel free to talk.

    I would ask open-ended questions as to why his value of time and the value he places on other’s time is not the same. It boils down to either a personal issue or a lack of respect for others.

    If it’s a personal issue we will work towards meeting his needs that he may have and then get past it. Set some direct expectations to these issues for the future and then work towards meeting those expectations.

    If it just boils down to the fact that he does not feel the need to be on time or even present at meetings then we will have to come to terms with this may not be the place for him and talk about consequences of actions and then come to agreement of whether or not he is willing to commit to the expectations of showing up and being on time or moving on! Either way it will be his decision and if he decides he just cannot meet the expectations then I would already have a formalized written agreement for his leaving the company and have him sign it and be done with it.

    • Jorob

      I am one of those chronically late people and in my process of undoing the behavior I realized that I did not realize how important I was to the process at hand. It was a deeper feeling of not realizing how important I was to a greater plan on the planet..In realizing this my unconscious process of being chronically late transformed and I have stepped into accepting I have something important to offer. It has been amazing how so much more has shown up and that this unconscious resistance was blocking it all.

      • Nicole Schoychid

        So, your feelings of not being important were helping to create an (unconscious) tardiness problem? And once you realized you were important, the problem fixed itself…because you had more self worth and positive feelings? Interesting. Thank you for sharing!

  • simone manduca

    I would have a one-to-one meeting with John. I would then ask him if there is a special reason for repeatedly coming to work late. This will show him in a relaxed way that you, as his manager, are concerned about him and what’s going on in his life, whilst showing him that you are also on the ball and aware of every employee’s attendance. Show him a copy of his attendance record if available and/or the company policy regarding lateness and excessive absenteeism; explain in a non confrontational way, that it is negatively impacting other employees. Review John’s attendance record at least monthly and if the problems persist, then present him with a written warning with a copy in his personal file. If this is ignored, then I would consult with HR and take it from there.

    • Nicole Schoychid

      Well Said!

  • LSicurella

    I would meet with John and discuss the issue. John is part of the team and I rely on all of the team to be dependable & reliable. Perhaps being flexible and working out a shift in his start time and end time would help. I have done this in the past with employees and it resolved issues.

    • Nicole Schoychid

      Thanks for your response!

  • Eric Harvey

    First, this problem needs to be confronted vs “maybe it will improve on it’s own” and second it needs to be looked at Not as a “Bad Boy” behavior but rather a “this is getting in the way of our success and then success of your co-workers” issue . I have always liked the opening question to an employee with a performance problem being open ended like this………..”John I’d like to know why you are often late for business meetings …………… in fact 4 times in the last two weeks? He then knows you know, you don’t approve and he then has to explain why ( not easy for him to do) . and with any explanation he gives you…you have the com-back about how his lateness is both disruptive to the meeting goals and disrespectful of his co-workers who ARE there on time.

    The absenteeism issue is also just another example of his “not being where he needs to be when he needs to be there” ( a business need)………….better to talk to him from that perspective vs whether or not he”really” was or was not sick. the fact is , you need him here and on time. This is the stronger business argument and coaching approach.

    Obviously there are MANY more considerations here but these are important foundation perspectives to have as a leader dealing with these kinds of “People Problems”.

  • CS

    Lots of variables could affect this response (past overall behaviors, past work performance not just attendance) but drilled down, it requires one to 1) determine the reason for the recent behavior and 2) cease the negative behavior. The other variables may dictate “how” to go about achieving these 2 things. To facilitate the best possible outcome (ie, have John’ attendance return to previous or better levels), the course of action will be to proceed in a respectful and non-threatening manner. All encounters will be recorded in the personnel file so that, in the undesired event that John’s behavior does not improve (or worsens), there is a clear trail of documentation.

  • Dgintz595

    I would sit down and have a discussion on his behavior and try to find out if there is something going on in his life that might be impacting his behaviors at work. I would show support, however I would let him know that his behavior is not going to be tolerated. I would then, depending on the answers, suggest a leave or EAP help if available or suggest a different shift to accomadate if business allows. Ask for his commitment to make the necessary changes and express my confidence in his ability to turn this issue around.

    • Kp

      Nice to see this approach of concern with the “human” behind the behavior. Also very non-threatening, which is nice to see, but still lets the employee know the behavior is not going un-noticed and is being addressed. Much nicer approach than treating the employee like a 5 year old who deserves a scolding.

  • kstaran

    I would have a meeting with him and let him know that his lateness was becoming a “chronic” condition, and was disruptive, upsetting and unacceptable. I would then ask him to come up with some workable plan(s) for him to overcome this habit and change this behavior within 30-60 days. I would state that we would re-evaluate this situation at the determined time (either 30 or 60 days later), and would make a decision as to how to proceed at that date and time.

  • B4berg

    After checking with HR to clarify our company policy about employee behavior of this nature, I would then meet with John to address the issues and ask him if he has reasons why these patterns of behavior have recently been developing. If he presents logical reasons (I have recently been diagnosed with a bad disease that makes me tired; my wife is sick and I have to take care of the kids before I can leave for work, etc.) ask/suggest ways that you can work with him to meet his needs (change his schedule, family leave, work with EAP). If he has no good reason, just carelessness, I would point out the impact it is having on the Dept and his team and the consequences of it continuing. Set a time limit for correcting the problem (if not dealt with in 30 days, I will have to put you on probation which could lead to termination of your employment with us.) Offer to meet with him weekly to check in on how he is doing in scheduling himself to get to work on time and to discuss his attendance. If he resists in any way, I would bring an HR representative with me to document the meetings. Otherwise, I would document each meeting and its outcome, in writing, with a copy to John, to my supervisor and to HR in case this does lead to termination.

    • Nicole Schoychid

      YES! Documentation is SOOO important!

  • Kg

    I would talk to him about why he thinks he has been struck with illness so much lately. Are you tired, over worked, stressed, or bored, is there any thing I can do to help you improve your health? Then I would ask him how he feels when he is at a meeting and the person he is meeting is late. Based on his answer I would ask how he thinks his associates feel when he is late. Does he not value their time? Are there things we can do to help him be more proactive and attain better time management skills? Based on his answer I would ask him to put himself in the other person’s position and try to be more mindful of their time. Explaining he is a valuable part of the team and other’s look up to him as a role model. I would also offer some training on time management and/or some course suggestions on improving his health.

    • Nicole Schoychid

      I like the idea of empowering him to be a role model….and checking in with him regarding his health 1st

  • Bfleming

    I would have a personal meeting with John at work to discuss his chronic tardiness and absences. I would explain that this behavior is unacceptable and that we value him as an employee but it’s very important to us that he attend meetings and arrive on time because the situation is affecting the rest of our staff. I would ask John if everything was going well with him at work and let him know that my door was always open if I could help him with this problem. I would let him know that this meeting would be a verbal warning but if the problem continued I would have to give him a written warning that would have to be documented upon his next evaluation and if the situation continued I would have to result in termination.

  • Ssecchio

    I would meet with John one on one and let him know that this chronic lateness is becoming a problem. I would set clear expectations for his attendance. I would close the meeting with letting him know that he brings a lot to our company and that I am confident he can correct this problem but his attendance must improve.

  • Tessygusim

    As John’s Manager, i will call him for a one on one discussion, to find out if he is having some personal issues that might require him to take some time off or if there are challenges with the work or out rightly dissatisfied with the work or some aspects on it. I will also let him know how as a team, what affects one person affects all and his own output also affects the output of others and vice versa.

  • Anonymous

    My first step as John’s manager would be to see what the P&P was for attendance. I would make a copy of it and set up a meeting with John. I would first ask questions: is there a family issue that he might need personal leave time for? what has changed that this attendance problem is happening? Depending on his response would depend on what I do. It could be he needs some personal time off or leave time, it could be he is going through a tough time right now that and a minor change in his schedule might help, or it could be that I would disciplinary actions based on the P&P. I would also dicuss with him that he is a part of a team, that we are there to help him if need be, but he needs to remember others count on him too.

  • Kiehnj

    It is time to have a conversation with John about his tardiness and absences and to discuss how his behaviors are affecting the team. After hearing this side of the story, clarify expectations for the future (being on time, being at work as scheduled). He has a chance to change his behavior and meet the expectations. If the situation continues, the conversations and action steps may take formal discipline. If he changes his behavior in a positive way and is on time and at work as scheduled, provide positive reinforcement.

  • Nicole Schoychid

    Cheryl (CS) is this weeks winner of the Friday Leadership Challenge on our blog!! We are sending out her free book TODAY!
    BIG Thanks to all who responded to the leadership question….there were some really great answers! We will do another one THIS FRIDAY … with another give-a-way… so watch for it!

  • Lottbigal

    I would have a private talk in my office and ask why he’s being or absent?. I would like to get to know him better and she if there’s anything thats bothering him. I would assure him that my door is alway’s open. I would also explain to him that he’s effecting all the other workers and that we can’t have two sets of rules. I would give him this warning because I can’t afford to have unhappy employees because of his bad examples. I would give him one more chance and evaluate the situation 30 day’s from now. In the mean time if he can come up with a better plan, I would be open to it.

    Respectfully yours,


    • Nicole Schoychid

      Thank you Allan~

  • Jan

    John is a valued “decent” employee that needs to be approached personnally about this new behavior, own it and then come up with a plan to correct it barring consequence. This may be a good time to reiterate team building skills, provide mentoring and or make this a tag item at a general staff meetings. Most businesses have helps in place should John need counseling,FMLA or ET off to handle a more pressing situation at home and he may need to be reminded to these helps.

    • Nicole Schoychid

      Thank you for your response. Good points!

  • Laney5527

    First you would need to confront the person or persons and find out the root of the issues. Another thing that I have found to be effective is change the whole scene of how people think ~ we are in such a fast pace environment and people are just not happy in general ~ they need a change in their thought process, focus more on what is being done well, spread some good things about others. Examples still need to be made but make some good examples yourself and others are sure to follow.

  • David Carle

    The team needs to be unified and focus on those items critical to the success of the business, satisfaction of the customer or acheivement of specific goals. I would schedule the team to meet at least a few times if not regularly and discuss the goals of the organization, then everyone’s role in acheiving those goals to instill ownership, then encourage open forum discussions relative to what is working well and where opportunities to improve exist, how we can improve them and how we will know when we are improving. The team can then take ownership in these tasks/activities, identify the metrics that will most help them measure their progress and then take charge of their own progress.

  • Cariolwes7

    Usually when pressure is high in a workplace environment, people tend to pick on others and call out there mistakes publicly because no ones want to be blamed for someone else mistakes. Complaints are generated for two reasons: first, when the workload is high and performance is under surveillance workers have a tendency to blame other workers for their wrong doing to make themselves feel better. Second, there is always something behind a complaint either for the interest of the plaintiff or the victim. The best way to resolve conflicts or complaint is by finding the root of the problem, brainstorming with individual team members that are willing to give feedback either positive or negative, and call out a meeting to resolve the conflicts, after the meeting is done and the solution seems understantable to every one watch how every member performs and act with their co-workers and call out a second meeting to finalize everything and make sure the team is back to a good track.

  • Vanessa Mitchell

    I would first meet with each individual one on one,and then have a mandatory meeting to see, if as their manager what can I do ,for each one of you to clean this toxic environment out our surroundings. And began frequent discussion with my staff daily ,and see if we can turn this into a cleaner and more prefessional department. Where as you and would be glad to come to work to see what new challeges we can tackle as a team and press for bigger and better things to happen in our company.

  • Debbie

    I guess I’d have to come up with something pretty cool that required them to work together to produce or solve something in order to receive the reward. It would be really interesting if you could give each person a piece of the puzzle that would need to be drawn out of each other and then added to the whole to create the answer/solution.

    People can be so cruel to each other when they feel threatened in some way. Maybe they afraid (worrying about a layoff) or a new boss or the company is being merged or sold…sometimes being cruel is just masking for fear.

    Show them that they are all safe and valued members of the team and that the company needs their help and all their diverse talents to reach the company goals. When those are achieved, everyone wins.

  • Barbara Reed

    Friday Leadership Challenge #2 Comment: I would send out an office communication inviting everyone to participate in “Make It Happen Monday” Explain that the purpose of the meeting is to have everyone write down their concern and place it in a box by the end of the week on any given Friday. These woud be concerns that would be annonamously submitted. On “Make It Happen Monday”, a one-hour meeting could be scheduled to discuss one concern; solicit feedback from the group on suggestions for improvement; and come up with solutions towards fixing the issues at hand. Stop, Look, Listen, Discuss, Fix, Proceed is the end result towards working more effectively as a group and taking pride in the fact that everyone took part in finding a solution to the problem. Accentuate the Positive, Eliminate the Negative — No room for Mr. In-beteween can be the new slogan going forward. In the words of William Arthur Ward…”Real optimism is aware of problems, but recognizes solultions; knows about difficulties but believes they can be overcome; sees the negatives, but accentuates the positives; is exposed to the worst but expects the best; has reason to complain, but chooses to smile”. Encouragement is oxygen to the soul. Being optomistic is a choice: Watch your thoughts; they lead to attitudes. Watch your attitudes; they lead to words.
    Watch your words; they lead to actions. Watch your actions; they lead to habits. Watch your habits; they form your character. Watch your character; it determines your destiny. Success is never final!

  • Elizabeth Wilson

    I would call a team meeting immediately. As a leader of the team, I would express to the team that this negative, toxic behavior has no place in our organization. It undermines leadership and divides the team. I would address specific issues with the specific individuals in a private setting – not in front of the group. That type of “chatter” has no place in a true team setting. In order to move beyond this, I would remind everyone of the company’s and the team’s expectations. If it seemed necessary, I would also remind them of the consequences. Another expectation I would set for the group is a zero tolerance – zero buy-in of all team members. This type of rumor-mill/back-stabbing behavior only has a voice when it is fed – meaning, if co-workers walk away and do not participate, it has no energy to feed on. After the meeting I would have my team leads and myself focus on the task at hand and be very visible and transparent with not allowing this bad behavior to continue in any way.

  • LeLeeJack

    I pull each person aside and ask…”what can I do to help you do your job” When they start with the toxic talk, I ask “what do you do to correct the problem?” Most of the time, the person just looks at me. I then go on to say “if we each take responsibility to correct the problem and do it with a positive attitude there is nothing we can’t do.” I try and empower my staff. If staff member continue to be toxic to the unit, I will direct them by giving specific examples of their behavior and examples of how to set a possitve attitude instead.

    • Nicole Schoychid

      Empowerment can be way more powerful than discouragement!!

  • Melaku Mesele

    I have to see the matter seriously and arrange a meeting to now what underpins points or ideas are there for such negative ideas is being circulated. Not only that I have to check also the intensity of the compliance and its impact among other workers and its impact on the performance of the company targets.
    As a saying goes :A Defining problem is better than nothing and it would lead to the solution by 50%, I should thoroughly understand the cause and would give a solution using the right method a per the context.

    Once I have identified and know the root cause ; the next steep could be address easily. Not only that I should devise a mechanism not such a things to be happen and inform every body when ever they have any problem to bring it directly to myself as I used an open door policy.

    • Nicole Schoychid

      Thank you for your response!

  • Maniar Rajeev

    Well, As a manager, I would be a silent listener to the group who is talking and slowly ask them why do you feel so? Is it really the Salary, Colleagues, Environment, Work or any other reason. The reason would be personal (self) or the company (where we work). Think and find out who is responsible for the same? If it is self – then we can ask the person to change his attitude or find a suitable place where he would be more comfortable. If it is the company – When can the company fulfill the demand / facility which was promised? Promise the last date by when the problem would be solved.

    • Nicole Schoychid

      NICE….like it!

  • Kiehnj

    The downward spiral can quickly occur. I would start by being a positive role model and ensuring I was exhibiting a cheerful, uplifting outlook. Sometimes, it can help to remind people of everything they have going for them (e.g., a job with benefits when many are out of work). We need to count our blessings! There might be a group activity that the team could do to help others who are less fortunate. If the negativity continues, I would take a more direct approach and stress the need to have a positive outlook (which is one of our five points of department philosophy). I would approach the positive people on the team and ask them to help reverse the spiral and get it going back in a positive direction. Having a positive outlook makes everyone feel better, and we need champions for that cause!

    • Nicole Schoychid

      Well Said!