How to Deal with Negative Team Members

In this video I talk about how to deal with team members with a victim mindset.

I first cover seven qualities of people with a victim mentality, and then give 12 suggestions for how to handle this type of team member.

7 Qualities of People with a Victim Mindset

#1: Here’s where it all begins 

Listen in here for where the problem with a victim mindset starts.

#2: They Start Blaming

People with the victim mentality become very good at blaming everybody. Everything is other people’s fault. They take no personal responsibility for what happens.

#3: They Start Justifying Everything

They’ll say things like, “you don’t understand” or “life is too hard.” They may hide behind their faith or family, as if they can’t focus on those things  at the same time while they’re working for you. They try to come across as if they are more noble than the other people working there.

Keep in mind that everyone from young children on up know how to blame others and justify their behavior, so this type of behavior is nothing new; we’ve all done it.

#4: They Spread Negativity to Others

People with a victim mindset badmouth people and spread their negative attitude to others.

#5: They Recruit Other People

This fits with the previous point. It’s far easier to recruit people to a negative message than to a positive one. More people have subscribed to negative thinking and fear rather than positive thinking. Think about 10 people in your life and how many of them are negative vs. positive. Why? It’s way easier to recruit people to negative thinking, justifying, blaming, being idle, and thinking small.

It’s tough to get people to stay positive and moving. So these negative people become the best recruiters and if you don’t get to them early they know how to get to all the other negative people and convert them very quickly.

#6: They Spread Rumors

Rumors aren’t true, but that doesn’t keep people from spreading them! The false things they say cause even positive people to start thinking negative things about you and others on the team.

#7: They Have Never Ending Issues

People with a victim mentality have a big problem — no matter where they go, their victim mindset follows them. You’ll find that they’ve had the same types of problems multiple places, always thinking that the problem is other people, rather than themselves.

How to Deal with People with a Victim Mentality

I’ve experienced this so many times over my career, and the worst thing you can do is hide and not do anything.

One of the best books on the topic is Crucial Conversations.

So let’s get into what you should do when this happens.

#1: Immediately Meet with Them

When I see this type of thing happening, the first thing I want to do is meet with the person. If their spouse is involved in the business, I’ll meet with the spouse as well. Otherwise, I meet with them alone.

Either way, I meet with them immediately.

#2: Ask Them Why They Got Involved with the Company in the First Place

When I meet with them, I’ll ask them why they got involved in the company in the first place. And they’ll typically give a few reasons.
I’ll then say something like, “You were excited about the company at one point. What happened? What changed?”

#3: Ask “Are Those Things Still Important to You?” 

We then talk about whether or not the things they mentioned when answering the previous question are still important to them.

#4: Find Out What the Challenges Are and Help them Clear Things Up

Talk to them about how things changed, and find out what brought about the change in their attitude. Ask who they are not happy with. Ask, “Did I do something or did a team member do something ?” You’ll be amazed by how many times there is something you didn’t even know about. Truly 80% of the time it’s something very small.

Most people don’t want to bring up those small things because remember, most people want to avoid conflict, and to build anything big, you have to deal with conflict. So they would rather not bring it up to you or to anyone that’s their superior, so instead, they run away from the conflict.

#5: Ask Them if They Would Like Things to Change

After discussing the items in point four above, ask them a simple question: “Would you like things to change?”

They may say yes, or they may say no. If they say yes, you can work with them. If they are completely disgruntled and say no, you have a few choices:

  • Leave them alone for a while and see if something changes
  • Ask them to leave

#6: Study Trends

Listen in here to hear my thoughts on how trends should impact how you handle the situation.

#7: Go Through Qualities of a Victim Mentality

Go over the following traits that you see in them that indicate they have a victim mentality:

  • Too Much Idle Time
  • Blame
  • Justification
  • Spreading negativity
  • Recruiting others to their point of view
  • Spreading rumors
  • The fact that this has been a never ending issue for them

#8: Give an Assignment 

If they indicate they want to improve,  I generally recommend a book, audio, video, movie, or article.

A good place to start is with my top 100 books or my top 100 movies.

I’ll ask them to watch the movie or read the book within a specified period of time and then text or call me after they’ve finished it to set up a time to talk about it.

Be very specific with the time. For example, “I want you to finish this by next Friday at 4:00.”

After talking about it, I’ll make another recommendation, based on what they need to be working on.  When you take this approach, it will generally improve, little by little.

#9: Don’t Fake It

People need to know that you genuinely care about them, and if you’re only faking it, they’ll pick up on that. People were willing to run through the wall for Alexander the Great because they knew he was willing to run through a wall for him. That gave them a sense of loyalty to him.

#10: Hold Them Accountable

Ask them to tell you what they’ll do going forward. Then schedule follow up calls to check in with them to see if they’ve done what they said they would.

#11: If they Fail Once or Twice, Give them a Second or Third Chance 

People may falter some, so it’s important to give them a second or third chance, but there comes a point when you have to have higher expectations for leaders.

#12: If Things Get Worse Do This

Listen in here to find out what to do if the situation goes down hill.

Share your thoughts or ask question in the comments below regarding how to deal with team members with a victim mentality. And if you haven’t already done so, be sure to click on the button below to subscribe to my YouTube channel.



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