Negative Thoughts and Talk Can Hurt your Company

Patricia Woloch

At some time or another, organizations and businesses may struggle with employees' negative attitudes. Often, these shifts in attitude can be linked to organization trauma such as downsizing, budget cuts or workload increases, but sometimes negative attitudes evolve with no apparent triggers. Increased complaining, a focus on why things aren't getting done, and a lack of hope that things will get better may characterize negative employees' behavior. Staff negativity can make your whole company feel as though it's in a rut, and negativity is certainly contagious. Negativism can even affect the most positive employees.

There are ways, however, that managers can deal with negative employee behavior and thinking including:

1. Model positive behavior. If management is acting and talking negatively, staff will certainly follow; managers must model positive company behavior. Additionally, take a positive approach by showing confidence in your employees' abilities. Expect a lot from your staff, support them in their efforts, hold them accountable, and be clear in your expectations. Good managers will set standards for their own work and employee relations and meet those standards, setting an example of positive behavior.

2. Acknowledge existing negativity. Ignoring negativity will not make it go away. If you don't acknowledge the negativity, then your employees may view you as being out of touch and not aware of your company's dynamic. Acknowledge the negativity your perceive, and do not try to convince your employees that they shouldn't have those negative feelings. Instead, ask for suggestions regarding what to do about the negativity and come up with solutions together.

3. Identify the positives. Look for small victories and discuss them. Turning a negative company into a positive one is the result of many little actions.

4. Provide positive reinforcement and recognition often. Provide positive recognition as soon as you find out about good performance, and do not couple positive strokes with suggestions for improvement. Those two things must be separated as combining them devalues the recognition.

5. Don't ever go along with the negativity. Regardless of your position in the combination, it can be easy sometimes to participate in the negative talk that is taking place around the water cooler. When faced with negative conversations, consider changing the subject, comment on the negative content ("Hey, let's move on to something more pleasant."), or ask what can be done to remedy the situation that is causing negative feelings.

One of the age-old questions in the sales world is "Are leaders born or made?" Regardless of which school of thought you subscribe to, gifted sales managers often attain their position by demonstrating competence in the sales arena and modeling good sales and good company behavior. High-performing sales organizations apply the best practices, and perceiving, acknowledging and addressing negative employee behavior and attitude is crucial to ensuring success for you and your company.

No comments: