Ask Skip: How Can I Correct Bad Workplace Behavior That Has Been Allowed to Go On and On?

All Ask Skip Questions that appear in this blog are actual questions submitted to me directly from blog subscribers or other inquiries that come in through the main website or via my Social Media pages on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Feel free to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication”question here!


This is a great question and probably one that many managers and business leaders would like to ask, so you are helping many by submitting this.

While there may be a number of different ways to address this problem, and some of my colleagues may be able to offer other suggestions, I strongly recommend what I call “The Clean Slate Strategy.”

7 Steps to Implement The Clean Slate Strategy:

  1. Decide to change the situation and commit to taking action to do so
    • This is no small step (as you may be aware), since this undesirable behavior has been allowed to perpetuate despite company leaders and direct supervisors of the perpetrator(s) being fully aware of it, and desirous of changing it.
  2. Agree that if the behavior has not been addressed to this point and has been ‘permitted’ to perpetuate, it is not the fault of the perpetrator. It is the fault of the supervisor for failing to effectively address the issue directly. (You may want to review my October 25, 2011 article 3 Reasons Underperforming Employees In Your Company Are Not At Fault
  3. Because of #2 above, decide that you are going to give the perpetrator “the benefit of the doubt” and let all past transgressions go. “Letting go” does not mean forgetting about them. It means addressing them directly and candidly using them as an example to explain specifically what the new expectations are moving forward.
  4. Create new behavior and performance expectations.
  5. Decide the best format to communicate the new behaviors and performance standards. Private, 1:1 conversation is recommended before expressing things to a group or team.
  6. Let the individual know there will be a probationary period for 90-days in which you are committed to holding regularly scheduled feedback discussions (weekly is recommended) to help them adapt to, and become comfortable with, the new performance expectations and behavior standards.
  7. Implement all of the above and maintain consistent application.

These 7 steps come from Managing for High-Performance & Retention a training and development program some of my best clients have implemented to improve performance and attitudes in their workplaces.

If the issues presented in this “Ask Skip” question are occurring in your workplace and you would like to discuss how specifically to apply this to your specific situation I recommend investigating the value of a private, 1:1 Leadership Communication Strategy Session, which you can read more about at this link.

’til next time, make it a great day!

If you have an issue you are dealing with in leading your team and/or organization that you would like answered in my “Ask Skip” column, click here to submit your own “Leadership, Teamwork or Workplace Communication” question here and you might just see your question answered here in the coming weeks. I also promise to reply directly so that you get the help you need when you need it.

2 thoughts on “Ask Skip: How Can I Correct Bad Workplace Behavior That Has Been Allowed to Go On and On?

  1. Gordon McAleer says:

    One of the most frequent causes for a good person to leave a company is a poor relationship between the person and his or her immediate boss. Poor peoples skills of the manager will quickly drive effective employees to seek other opportunities. It is one thing to give an ineffective manager the opportunity to change, but don’t waste too much time and effort. Cut your loses after a probationary period. Skip’s 90 day period is a good benchmark. Gordon McAleer, President, McAleer & Associates

  2. Eswari Kalugasalam says:

    Bad workplace behaviour that has been allowed to fester, creates a culture that is toxic. It is a fallacy, for any company to assume that bringing in new people, with new ideas will change the collective behaviour in the office. As Gordon mentioned, the manager/supervisor must take charge of the situation. Bottom lines, productivity and organizational culture are interlinked. As Mahatma Gandhi said , ” Be the change you want to see in the world,” or in this case, your company.

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