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7 Tips For Writing Up an Employee for a Bad Attitude

What is one tip for writing up an employee for a bad attitude?

To help you write up an employee for a bad attitude, we asked HR leaders and small business owners this question for their best insights. From documenting every event to taking a coaching approach, there are several tips that may help you write up an employee with a negative demeanor in the future. Here are seven tips for writing up an employee for a bad attitude:

  • Document Every Event

  • Be Clear and Identify the Impact to the Business

  • Address It Immediately

  • Keep a Cool Head

  • Determine if the Employee is Aware of Their Attitude

  • Find Out if There are Underlying Workplace Causes

  • Take a Coaching Approach

Document Every Event

While writing up an employee is never an easy job, you still need to accurately explain to them what went wrong and the consequences of their actions. To provide a clear and unbiased picture, it's always best to document all the events that took place, everything that was said, done, as well as the repercussions of their bad behavior so that you back up your claims with actual facts.

Harry Morton, Lower Street

Be Clear and Identify the Impact to the Business

When someone is written up for "having a bad attitude" the response is going to be surprise - "what do you mean? I have a great attitude!". As managers and HR professionals, we have a duty to be as descriptive as possible to make the employee aware of the behavior, interactions or communications that are leading to this perception or actual concern. I like to tie the problematic issues to the impact to the business -whether it is performance, impact to team, customers, productivity, bottom line, or whatever may be the case. This changes the equation where everyone is clear on what the problem is, what the expectations are and the opportunity for the employee to make the necessary corrections once they are aware.

Patty Hickok, NANA Regional Corporation

Address It Immediately

Don't procrastinate or let it continue. The longer you wait or the more times you allow it to happen, the more the employee will consider it ok or normal behavior. Address it immediately. Write them up formally so that the incident is documented. Then follow up after a set amount of time to see if their attitude has improved.

Jeff Becka, Fence Resource

Keep a Cool Head

Keep a cool head, and be clear about the specific reason you’re writing an employee up. The worst thing a manager can do when reprimanding an employee with a bad attitude is to lose his or her temper, or to blame the employee for an attitude problem as a whole instead of a specific infraction. By keeping a cool head and responding to each infraction specifically, referring to your employee handbook, with the proper detailed documentation, you give the employee both a way to improve–and you do due diligence in case more serious repercussions are needed later.

Dan Bladen, Kadence

Determine if the Employee is Aware of Their Attitude

In my experience, employees either know they have a bad attitude and wear it like a badge of honor, or they are not aware of it until somebody points it out. You have a fighting chance of at least neutralizing their bad attitude if they acknowledge it and demonstrate a desire to change. If they deflect and blame others for their bad attitude, the write up will be a step toward eventually exiting them from the company. Start looking for a replacement...

Scott Baker, Stage 3 Leadership

Find Out if There are Underlying Workplace Causes

Don’t just write an employee up – discuss the behavior and any potential underlying causes. An employee’s bad attitude most often happens for a reason, and it’s important to discover whether it’s because of any managerial oversights or employee conflicts you might be unaware of. Sometimes, an employee’s bad attitude and lack of team spirit are his or her own problems that should be fixed, but it’s important to identify if there are any workplace issues that indicate a larger concern.

John Jacob, Hoist

Take a Coaching Approach

A series of coaching questions generates the content, then have the employee with the bad attitude send an email about what was discussed and the plan moving forward. Use that email as the content in a write-up. Here are some coaching questions to use: What is going well? Be sure to add complements here. What do you like about your position? What do you want in your career here? Let them know you want to support them getting what they want. What are your challenges? How do you want to move past those challenges? What is the value of being successful in your position? In the conversation, if the employee does not identify their attitude as being one of the challenges, say, "In addition to what you are sharing, the feedback I have gotten and what I have observed is that your attitude is negatively impacting your success. What are your thoughts on that?"

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