follow us here and on twitter @ukhrhub to get all the latest HR hints, tips, advice and news

What To Do When A Team Member Won’t Go Quietly

What To Do When A Team Member Won’t Go Quietly

Rejection is tricky. Whatever the circumstances.

We tend to think of rejection when it comes to matters of the heart, but there are many situations at work – promotions, restructures, redundancies, probations not working out – where it all boils down to the same emotions. And whilst most people don’t go ‘nuclear’ when told that they are not going to get what they want at work, sometimes people surprise you and they find all manner of ways of making their disagreement with your decision known….

Fortunately ransacking the office isn’t something I’ve ever seen after communicating that someone’s role has changed or ended and most tend to understand that situations change and ultimately accept a decision has been made (even if they disagree). But in some extreme cases – an employee refusing to accept the notice being given, threatening the people in the room, being physically aggressive and even contacting clients and other employees after the event with the intent to cause mayhem are all situations I’ve witnessed – there are always those outliers who just won’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

You can’t predict how someone is going to react to the news that you either don’t want them in the position or feel they are not right to be taking on certain things. However there are things you can to prevent or stop the situation escalating:

  1. Avoid emailing the ‘news’: If someone is up for a promotion or put a tremendous amount of effort into preparing for a presentation they want to give to a client, reflect that in the way you let them know it’s not going to happen & make sure you share this in a human way & not via text/ email. Ideally this would be face to face, but well, you know……
  2. Be clear on the reasons for any changes: always explain the rationale for your decision and how you came to it. Even if someone doesn’t seem like they’re listening to it, they may well recall it after when they’ve calmed down and are more capable of rationale thought.
  3. Prepare yourself for emotion: Someone’s ability to process any news at the time will depend on their own situation, wellbeing and resilience at that moment in time and so it helps to be prepared for all sorts. Sometimes this means having an actual ‘script’ that you can lean on to help out with key questions they might have or just being prepared to say to someone: “I understand that you don’t agree with our decision and I’m happy to speak to you about this in a couple of days, but for now, I suggest you take some time out to process what I’ve just shared”.
  4. Be respectful: just because the person doesn’t agree with your decision, you can respectfully listen to their views on this. Sometimes it helps them to process the ‘result’ and it is enough for them that you’ve acknowledged this.
  5. If all else fails… If someone really won’t take any transition well and you’ve spoken to them already, then the good news is that – unlike the US situation – you don’t need Twitter to suspend them for you. You can cut them off from all company systems straight away and remind them of the terms and conditions they signed which they are potentially breaching. Be specific about the terms they are breaching and what your next legal steps may be. They may threaten legal action themselves – it is their right to explore whatever options they see fit – but they don’t have to be on your company’s systems to do so.

If you want to chat through any potentially challenging situations, drop us a line at or by calling 0203 627 7048 to have a chat.

Image: Flickr