There’s an old saying, “You don’t always know why you’re hiring someone, but you always know why you’re firing them.” But long before the firing, employees can “go bad.” Maybe their attitude sours or their attention to detail wanes. Or perhaps they simply get a little too comfortable and quit trying to improve.
But what do you do to prevent employees from defecting to the “Dark Side” — especially if you don’t have a Yoda to give you insight and advice?
- how employees get drawn to the Dark Side and what you can do to stop it,
- the underlying factors that fuel all bad behavior and how to eliminate those from your agency,
- tools that every supervisor should learn to use with challenging employees,
- and how to motivate the Dark Side people to move back to the light
- what to do with employees who chose not to move back to the light and how to reduce your liability if you need to terminate a Dark Side employee.
Justice Clearinghouse Editors (JCH): Dr. Miller, when you talk about “the Dark Side,” what does that mean?
Dr. Kimberly Miller: It can really mean a lot of things, but generally it is referring to negative thoughts, actions and behaviors. These can take various forms but some include: bullying, entitlement, arrogance, defensiveness, lazy, being negative about everything, doing the bare minimum, etc.
If you truly have “influence” other those you supervise,
provide them with good experiences, foster effective communication,
give them feedback, challenge them to grow and really “know” them,
they will be less likely to turn to the dark side.
JCH: It seems like, no matter how much an employer might try to screen to find great employees, invariably some employees/employment relationships sour. Why do some “good” employees seem to go “bad?”
Kimberly: There are a lot of reasons for this, but for me it often comes down to one thing, they had a “bad experience.” This could be that they were treated poorly, passed over for a promotion or position they felt they deserved/earned, were disrespected, not included, or listened to. Additionally, the bad experience could also be of their own making (i.e., poor self-care, over or under use of strengths), but often times people are blind to these issues. The main thing to keep in mind is that “no body does nothing for no reason.” If someone has an attitude, there is a reason, if they are negative, there is a reason, if they are lazy there is a reason. Often we sit in judgment of other’s bad behaviors instead of looking beneath those behaviors, and work to understand the root cause and help them move beyond it.
We will explore many other variables that contribute to people turning to the dark side in the webinar, but I want people to realize that there is always a reason for bad behavior and that getting toward a fix starts by looking at root causes.
Often we sit in judgment of other’s bad behaviors instead of looking beneath those behaviors,
and work to understand the root cause and help them move beyond it.
JCH: Without giving the whole webinar away, what can supervisors do to prevent employees from “turning to the dark side?”
Kimberly: First and foremost, develop and good relationship with those you lead and work to maintain it. If you truly have “influence” other those you supervise, provide them with good experiences, foster effective communication, give them feedback, challenge them to grow and really “know” them, they will be less likely to turn to the dark side. The second general suggestion would be to not let things fester. Whether that is an interpersonal conflict, a disappointment or frustration they are feeling, performance issue or a misunderstanding, the quicker these are addressed and dealt with the less likely the person will turn to the dark side.
JCH: What keeps you so energized and passionate about the topics you teach and the clients you coach?
Kimberly: I am blessed to have a career that allows me to make a positive impact on the world every day. I love helping individuals and organizations thrive, grow and improve. There is nothing better than making a difference every day and realizing the ripple effect positivity has.
Click Here to Watch “Dealing with the Dark Side: How to Handle Your Most Difficult Employees.”