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Handling Employees Who Have A Disruptive Attitude

Dominic Kelley
Posted by Dominic Kelley on February 4, 2020

We’ve all been there. Everything is going fine and then suddenly you have one (or more) employees whose attitude or behavior are causing issues in the flow and function of your office. Not only does this make it uncomfortable for everyone in the office, but it prevents employees from being able to carry out their professional responsibilities.

As the leader / owner / manager of the office, it’s important to address disruptive behaviors in a prompt manner to make sure it isn’t tolerated or ignored. Luckily there are constructive strategies you can use when you have to deal with these types of issues.

There are two common scenarios to consider when deciding the appropriate action to take with disruptive employees:

  • Scenario 1: Multiple employees having issues with each other.
  • Scenario 2: One employee causing a disruption with their negative attitude.


Scenario 1: Multiple employees having issues with each other.

In this scenario, the most appropriate and immediate course of action would be to hold a meeting with the entire staff stating that certain behaviors have been observed that are not in line with the practice culture and/or values. During this meeting you should set expectations for what will and what will not be tolerated within the practice. At this point you can choose to give them an opportunity to remedy the behavior before a final warning OR give a final warning during the meeting and let them know that if the behavior is observed again you will be moving forward with more serious individual disciplinary actions.

Going forward you will want to be vigilant about disputes between employees and hold individual meetings with each employee who displays this behavior. You know your practice best, so use your discretion in implementing a progressive disciplinary plan that is both stern and fair.

Scenario 2: One employee is causing a disruption with their negative attitude.

In this instance, instead of having a meeting with the individual(s)  whose behavior is causing issues, you'll want to implement a progressive disciplinary plan immediately. Ideally, this plan is outlined in your employee handbook, but if not, you want to follow the basic outline of:

  • Start with an informal oral warning: have an informal discussion with the employee where this employee’s behaviors are addressed and guide them on what you want to see from them moving forward. Ideally, at this stage of the process you will want to let the employee air any grievances and ask how you as the employer could assist in helping resolve the situation.

  • If the problem persists past the informal oral conversation, this is when you will want to move onto a written warning with this employee. The written warning will serve to communicate to the employee how serious the situation has become and should have a corrective action plan with a time period (generally a month should suffice) of when the behavior should be corrected. In addition to the corrective action plan, consequences of not completing the action plan should be clearly communicated to the employee

  • Once we have moved past the first written warning, it will be up to the employer’s discretion as to how many more chances to correct the behavior they will allow the employee. However, once written warnings have been exhausted past the employer’s discretion, it might be most beneficial to move forward to a termination. At this point, the employer will want to consider whether the employee has any protections that might complicate a termination (disability, pregnancy, potential age discrimination issues, etc.). If the employee does have any of the listed protections, seek legal counsel before moving forward. If the employee does not have any protections, then the employer should provide all of the termination paperwork and move forward with the termination after making sure to follow the state mandated rules for issuing a final paycheck. 

If you have questions about handling employee-related issues, contact an HR specialist today to help you steer your company towards success!  SCHEDULE A CALL, or call: 877.779.4747, or email: today!

HR for Health is one of the nation’s leading Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS) used by small to mid-sized practices. HR for Health has provided the following complimentary articles to ensure you have a game plan when addressing complex HR matters.



Quick note: This is not to be taken as legal or HR advice. Since employment laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a lawyer or HR expert for specific guidance. Learn about HR for Health's HR services

Topics: HR Tips, employee conflict, conduct, workplace, employee issues

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