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Tips for Minimizing Workplace Negativity
By Susan M. Heathfield, About.com Guide
Nothing affects employee morale more insidiously than persistent workplace negativity. It saps the energy of your organization and diverts critical attention from work and performance. Negativity occurs in the attitude, outlook, and talk of one department member, or in a crescendo of voices responding to a workplace decision or event.
Learn About Workplace Negativity
As a manager or human resources professional, you are closely in touch with employees throughout the company. This allows you to keep your fingers on the pulse of the organization to sense workplace negativity. It enables you to establish and heed early warning signals that all is not well. You receive employee complaints, do exit interviews with employees who leave, and know the reputation of your organization in your community.
You watch the discussions on employee Intranets, manage the appraisal and 360-degree feedback process, and coach managers in appropriate staff treatment. This information will help you learn to identify the symptoms of negativity before its morale-busting consequences damage your workplace. It will also assist you in preventing and curing workplace negativity.
Diagnose Workplace Negativity
Negativity is an increasing problem in the workplace, according to Gary S. Topchik, the author ofManaging Workplace Negativity. He states, in a Management Review article, that negativity is often the result of a loss of confidence, control, or community. Knowing what people are negative about is the first step in solving the problem.
In my experience, when rumblings and negativity are beginning in your organization, talking with employees will help you understand the exact problems and the degree to which the problems are impacting your workplace. You will want to identify the exact employee groups who are experiencing the negativity, and the nature of the issues that sparked their unhappiness.
Perhaps the organization made a decision that adversely affected staff. Perhaps the executive manager held a staff meeting and was perceived to threaten or ignore people asking legitimate questions. Maybe staff members feel insecure because concern exists over losing a product line.
Perhaps underground rumors are circulating about an impending layoff. People may feel that they give the organization more than they receive in return. They may feel that a coworker was mistreated or denied a deserved promotion.
Whatever the cause of the workplace negativity, you must address the issues. Or like a seemingly dormant volcano, they will boil beneath the surface, and periodically bubble up and overflow to cause fresh damage.
The best way to combat workplace negativity is to keep it from occurring in the first place. These seven tips will help you minimize workplace negativity.
These factors are closest to the mind, heart and physical presence of each individual. Changes to these can cause serious negative responses. Provide timely, proactive responses to questions and concerns.
If several avenues or directions are under consideration, communicate all that you know, as soon as you know it. Reserve the right to change your mind later, without consequence, when additional factors affect the direction of ultimate decisions.
Take some time to analyze how well your organization is applying these seven recommendations. They form the foundation for positive staff morale and minimized negativity in your workplace.