No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Coaches Diary: Dealing with Negative Staff


Coach Olivia Stefanino looks at the tricky task of weighing up loyalty to the individual and the team at large.

Stephen looked nervous. He knew that he was going to have to deal with the in-fighting in the office – but he didn’t want to make a bad situation worse.

He told me that there was one girl in the office – who had been with the company since it first started nearly five years ago – who had become increasingly disaffected with her job.

He conceded that Tracey was very good at her work – but added that her negative attitude was creating a bad atmosphere in the office. Stephen had asked Tracey on several occasions if there was anything wrong – or if he could do anything to make her job easier. But each time Tracey had denied that there was a problem.

Several members of his team had commented on Tracey’s negativity and Stephen had done his best to stand up for her. Even when his boss had suggested that Tracey should be sacked, Stephen had loyally stuck by her – pleading her right to another chance.

Stephen and Tracey had been friends ever since he joined the company – and although he was a director and she was a supervisor, they had both enjoyed each other’s company and sense of humour.

However, Stephen had noticed that in the last couple of months – ever since he had met his new girlfriend, in fact – Tracey’s attitude towards him had changed too. Now she was simmering with resentment – an attitude he found hard to understand as he and Tracey had never been involved with each other on a romantic level.

I asked Stephen whether his company would be able to manage without Tracey. He smiled and replied that no one was indispensable and that yes, he had been grooming someone to take over Tracey’s post – just in case.

Together we looked at how much energy Stephen and his team had been forced to focus on Tracey – rather than their work - over the last few months. He was also concerned that other staff - sick of the bad atmosphere – were looking for new jobs.

The crux of the matter was that if Tracey were allowed to continue in the same vein, Stephen’s team would eventually disband – putting his company’s future in jeopardy.

With a look of resignation on his face, Stephen finally admitted to himself that it was time for Tracey to leave.

Still feeling guilt that he was stabbing an old friend in the back, Stephen decided that he would put together a generous leaving package, hoping that this would soften the blow a little. He agreed to seek legal advice before conducting any conversation with Tracey, but he acknowledged that he needed to deal with the negative atmosphere by removing the problem – and that by doing so he would be safeguarding the livelihoods of the rest of his team.

* Olivia Stefanino is a leadership development consultant and executive coach. For more information on Olivia's work and to download your free e-booklet “128 ways to harness your personal power”, visit


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!