Is there someone at your office everyone wishes would take a sick day or week? Or worse, is that someone you? Negativity can invade the workplace and spread like a virus.
Negativity has symptoms. They include a change in job performance. Do you notice someone appearing hostile or angry? You may notice other employees beginning to avoid or disassociate with the negativity carrier.
Once you recognize it, you’ve got to identify the underlying cause. Be direct. Discuss it with the person in a non-confrontational tone. Be prepared that this conversation may be emotional. Meet in a private area. Be prepared to offer some positive feedback. You hired them, there should be a reason. Focus on ways to improve performance.
Sometimes, negativity comes from feeling under-appreciated or from a lack of understanding about their position. Offer perspective on the employees job and set clear, measurable goals. Work on the plan together. Identify priorities. Most importantly, make sure you listen. Is the employee overwhelmed with new duties? Have you imported a program they are unclear of the details? Providing training might be a way to compensate.
To make sure the virus doesn’t resurface, it’s important to follow up with the employee and keep the lines of communication open.
Like with any disease, prevention is the best measure. If you are lucky enough to be in an environment where negativity hasn’t invaded yet, what can you do to keep it from creeping in?
Begin by developing strategies that will reinforce positive attitudes in your department. Be vigilant in noticing problems before they have time to take root. Make sure your department has a clear set of goals and they are reviewed regularly. Do you include your staff in the development of these goals? Are their pressures you can eliminate or distractions you can minimize?
Preventing negative attitudes is primarily about maintaining open lines of communication and awareness. Putting a plan in place ahead of the problem will ensure a happy and productive department.
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