The One Thing You Need to Know: How to Motivate a Negative Employee

“How can I motivate an employee who pushes back everything? I can’t share or motivate them all responses are negative responses and doesn’t want to hear any tips. I have tried many forms of approach but at the end I am exhausted. What can I do?” – Julyen

Your job as a manager is not to try to put in what was left out. Your job is to draw out what was left in. #Leadership Click To Tweet

If you are taking a coaching approach to management (and I hope that you are), your job isn’t to try to “fix” or “improve” your employees. They don’t need to be fixed, and attempting to improve their weaknesses will leave you both frustrated. Instead, your job is to learn where they want to go, and then help them get there in the right form, and at the right time, for your team.


What about you?

Have you ever had to motivate a negative employee? How did you do it?

Have you ever been the negative employee that needed some motivation?

Leave a comment below.


  1. Connie Crisler March 21, 2018 at 5:32 PM - Reply

    Extremely timely and relevant. It’s no wonder with a Bachelor Degree in Business Admin & Master Degree in Positive Psychology; I’ve found myself drawn and intrigued with a career in talent development and coaching. Planned a Vision Boarding team event for tomorrow. However the team failed to clear their calendar even with several weeks notice and so many could not attend, resulting in cancellation of the event altogether. Possibly not the right form or the right time? Something to think about.

  2. Katie March 22, 2018 at 1:35 PM - Reply

    You’re a good person but you’re in the wrong job and because I do care about you I’m going to move you out of the team. Well said, love your work Marcus.

  3. Mike R. March 29, 2018 at 1:37 PM - Reply

    I love this different take on addressing a chronically negative employee! Great advice, thank you!

  4. Loida Dumaguin April 12, 2018 at 9:53 PM - Reply

    I needed this! I’ll use this conversation first with myself. Thank you.

    • Meredith Bohling April 13, 2018 at 10:36 AM - Reply

      I love that idea. Especially when we are our harshest critics, taking a moment to ask “what’s working?” can change your entire outlook!

  5. kalyan April 19, 2018 at 2:28 AM - Reply


    How I motivate Negative people is satisfied there ego needs like they being right and make them important..

  6. Heidi June 14, 2018 at 7:04 PM - Reply

    THANK YOU for having such concrete answer to one of the most common but ignored questions. Instead of how to motivate, we go back to relook at the role as a manager/teamlead. Oftentimes we are the cause of the negativity with the, not the person. By asking what would work for you right now AND LISTEN, it is really the best trust-rebuilding process. So again, thank you!

  7. Bob Lee June 25, 2018 at 5:35 AM - Reply

    Thanks for sharing such an informative article about the motivation. I got a lot of points.

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