How to manage a passive aggressive employee

If you have an employee who leaves snide notes, sulks, is sarcastic or shows no support for their colleagues, you may be dealing with a passive aggressive employee.

In the outside world, you can give passive aggressive individuals a wide berth, but in your workplace, you will be forced to work with them day in day out.

The big problem with having employees who display passive aggressive tendencies is that it can be highly damaging to team morale and productivity. There is also a risk that other employees will adopt this type of toxic behaviour, which can affect the overall workplace culture.

So the key question is: what can managers do?

The first port of call is to follow a firm but informal approach.

Granted, it is not easy to address issues with passive aggressive employees as by their very nature, they will want to avoid confrontation at all costs. But it is important to speak to the employee directly.

Rather than frame the meeting in a confrontational way, you should remind them of your company’s ethos, values and expectations. You can explain how you have noticed certain attitudes and behaviours and give them specific examples of what they are doing and the negative effect it is having on others.

It is also important to allow them to respond. They may be able to explain the roots of their behaviour and whether there are specific problems to address. Together, you can explore different options to resolve any issues.

Often, an informal approach can help nip the toxic behaviour in the bud, but if you’re facing a particularly challenging employee, speak to your Employment Law Adviser. Your Adviser can guide you step-by-step through the best course of action.

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James Tamm

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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We combine the service quality of a law firm with the certainty of fixed-fee services to provide expert, solutions-focused Employment LawHR and Health & Safety support tailored to employers.

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