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Tag Archives: overcoming workplace negativity

Overcome workplace negativity by letting people take action and gain control

Last week I offered up one idea on a specific action leaders can take to address workplace negativity in their teams – helping their people see the big picture. I had promised one more idea though, so here it is – let people take action and feel like they’re taking back control.

RollingUpSleevesWhen you give people opportunities to make decisions about and control and/or influence their jobs, you can nip negativity in the bud (or at least stem the tide). One of the biggest sources of workplace negativity comes from a feeling of loss of control. When people are able to make decisions, even small decisions, they get back the feeling of control, and as a result negativity is lessened. Continue reading

Overcome workplace negativity by helping employees see the big picture

ThumbsDownCartoonWorkplace negativity is a reality! And often, unfortunately, negative people can end up in your organization or department. By far, the worst aspect of negativity though is that it’s toxic, it spreads beyond just one individual, usually to others the person interacts with. So it isn’t just the negative person that is the problem; unchecked, negativity makes its way insidiously through the entire department. As a leader then, you not only need to be aware of it, but also take active steps to manage it. In the past, I’ve offered ideas on specific actions that you can take to stem the tide – challenging extreme language and letting people talk – but it’s been a while since I covered this subject … so in today’s and my next blog post, I have two more ideas.

First, draw the big picture for your employees, particularly the ones who are prone to negativity. Continue reading

An approach to deal with negative employees

spongeYour best employees are enthusiastic, keen and eager to learn. Think of them as sponges, thirsty for knowledge, just waiting to soak up new experiences and fresh ideas. Contrast them with the other kind of employee – you know, the negative employees that are disenchanted, weary, and jaded by past encounters. They are sponges too. But these sponges are saturated and sodden, flooded with negativity borne from past situations. And because the sponges are already full, there is no room for anything else!

Until you squeeze water out of a drenched sponge, it cannot absorb any more. Which is something worth keeping in mind if you’re struggling with motivating an uninspired or disillusioned employee. You cannot just create a positive and stimulating environment and hope that such people will absorb the excitement and energy. If they’re already full of dissatisfaction and bitterness, then there will not be room for anything else, no matter how much effort you put into it. So think first about what you can do to “squeeze” out the negativity. Take the time to get to know these staff members at more than a superficial level. Find out about past situations that might have created their current mental state. Probe to discover the source of their “baggage”. Try and get at the root cause of the liquid deadweight. Only once you have squeezed out some of the liquid will they be able to absorb any more.

Well, what are your ideas or tips on things that leaders can do to “squeeze” out the old? Please share them by adding to the Comments link below.

Workplace negativity is toxic

GlassWater1The unfortunate truth about negative people is that their sour attitudes bring the rest of the workplace down.  And if you’re a manager, supervisor or team leader, it’s this toxic nature of negative people that should cause you the greatest concern.  Imagine for a moment that you have a glass of water sitting in front of you.  The water in this glass is clear and bright.  But what if you were to take a pitcher of coffee and pour a few drops into the glass of water.  Immediately the coffee would swirl and spread through the glass of clear liquid, and cloud and darken the mixture.  Negative people are like that.  Just a few drops can immediately cloud and darken the team atmosphere.  Just a few negative people can dampen team morale and productivity.  Which means, if you are a leader, you need to take immediate action to deal with those few drops.  Otherwise, if left unchecked, team morale will slip, productivity will suffer, and bottom-line, your people will stop working well together.

So what can you do about it?  Well, there are no quick fixes, but it has to start with a conscious effort to cultivate a positive attitude in the rest of your people.  Notice my use of the word “cultivate” – creating a positive workplace is a process, not unlike the progression of gardening.  The positivity seeds have to be planted, frequently watered, given sufficient light and nutrients, protected from predators and diseases, and allowed to grow and flower. This requires monitoring and effort.  If you invest time and energy into creating a positive work environment, it will combat the negativity toxin that is spread by a nasty few.

What other ideas do you have to combat negativity in the workplace?

All it takes is one …

View of Manhattan from my W Hoboken hotel room
View of Manhattan from my W Hoboken hotel room

A couple of weeks ago, I stayed at the uber-posh W Hotel in Hoboken NJ, directly across the river from Manhattan NY.  The W chain prides itself on being very hip, a little unconventional, and oh-so-very customer-focused.  All of which I thoroughly enjoyed.  From the comfy bed, luxurious towels and in-room Bliss toiletries to the neon-shaded lobby, rock music in the elevators, and art-deco furniture in the lounge, I soaked it all in.  It tickled my fancy that they changed the floor mats in the elevators three times a day; depending on when you stepped in, the mats boldly said “Good morning”, “Good afternoon”, or “Good night”.  And my favourite part: their signature phrase.  When you call any hotel department, the phone is answered with a cheery “Whatever, whenever”, which reflects their exceptional attitude and commitment to customer service.  And true to their word, during my 3-day stay there, I experienced their Whatever, Whenever service over and over again.  That is, with one notable exception. Continue reading

Strategies to deal with workplace negativity

Negative people … they’re in every workplace. You know who they are. They never have anything good to say about anything or anyone. They languish around the office. They are victims in a world that is conspiring against them. And lest you fail to notice, they are quick to point out why something won’t work. But worst of all: their sour attitudes bring the rest of the workplace down.

It’s this contagious and toxic nature of negativity that creates havoc in workplaces and causes untold grief for managers and supervisors. The effect negative people have in a workplace is akin to adding a few drops of coffee to a glass of clear water. Within minutes, the drops of coffee swirl and spread through the water and immediately cloud and darken the mixture. Just a few negative people can dampen team morale and productivity. So what can you do about it?  Read the entire article in the September/October 2009 issue of CGA Magazine here.