A resentful employee can lower the morale of others and undermine the goals of the organization. Resentment in the workplace can stem from a perceived slight or a lack of promotion or recognition. It can also set in when an employee receives an unwelcomed work assignment or feels overwhelmed because of too much responsibility in the workplace.

To avoid resentment in employees, managers need to drive positive change, communicate based on trust and have an open dialog whenever there is an issue. Doing this will help provide a positive atmosphere that can change a negative attitude into a healthy one.

Tips for managing resentful employees

It is inevitable for a manager to deal with difficult or resentful employees. Some managers may choose to do nothing, but it is always best to remedy the situation before it becomes a problem. Fixing the problem will help managers maintain an effective and conducive work environment and help maintain their optimal performance. The following are some tips for managing resentful employees.

Listen to the employee

Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Whenever managers talk with resentful employees, they should actively listen to what the latter have to say. They should always ask open-ended questions that cannot be answered in one or two words, and try not to interrupt. Stay positive and engaged during the conversation, as this will help demonstrate an interest in the person. Listening will help managers to determine the source of difficulty or bitterness and gives them a chance to find a solution.

Some employees may be experiencing personal problems that are affecting their professional lives. Many employees may not be comfortable discussing personal matters with their managers. Still, a listening manager will establish rapport, build trust and refer the employee for some professional assistance if need be.

Develop goals together

Managers should discuss and develop goals with the resentful employee. Creating goals may also help to develop a solution to workplace resentment. Managers can let the team member establish goals for themselves, giving them a hand in their improvement process. If they are happy with this process, then this may indicate that they are interested in improving.

Don't trash-talk the employee

Most times, poor managers tend to bad-mouth the resentful employee when they are away from them. Of course, this is never the solution, and it will make matters worse. Trash-talking others will only create an environment of distrust and back-stabbing, and it will pollute other employees' perceptions of the employee. If sharing with a coworker is necessary, such as needing help to remedy the situation, do so in privacy.

Set consequences if there is no change

After trying to improve the resentful employee, a good manager will give specific consequences if an attitude change does not occur. A manager may make specific statements like "I still believe you can turn this around" and "If I don't see X behavior by X date, here is what will happen." Doing this will help resentful employees know their behavior harms their workplace performance and may even jeopardize their job. The hope is that the resentful employee will change.

Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash

Go through the right process for termination

Every manager hopes to work with an employee for a long time -- as long as the employee will deliver and offer quality service to the company. For a continually resentful employee, this might not be the case. After hoping for and working toward improvement, which is not forthcoming, the manager may decide to let the person go.

Before the manager takes this action, they need to have a clear discussion with the HR department. Doing this allows the manager to receive advice on the best way to terminate the employee. Following this process will protect the manager and show the employee due process was followed.

Final verdict

Handling a resentful employee is not an easy task, but if you learn to use a good approach, the outcome can be positive. If there is a resentful employee in your workplace, do your part as a manager to salvage the situation. And if it turns out to be negative, the manager should know they have done their best in a challenging situation.