I don’t know about you, but I’m no fan of negativity and the conflict it breeds. In my opinion, improving the workplace environment starts with overcoming negativity before it spreads like an unwelcome virus, impacting the health of the entire organization.
Negativity can present in a variety of ways:
- A Look
- A Tone
- An Attitude
And negativity can quickly suck the energy and life out of an organization, decreasing morale and productivity.
Recognizing Symptoms of Negativity
If you are a manager or human resources professional, you probably have a good sense of the day-to-day workplace environment, the positive and negative signals going on around you.
But do you also recognize the causes of workplace negativity and understand how to ‘treat’ the condition?
I’m no medical expert, but those who are would tell us that early intervention often makes all the difference when health issues arise. The same can be true for unhealthy indicators within the workplace. No matter the cause of the negativity, it requires immediate attention. If left unaddressed, it will only continue to simmer…until it boils over.
“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.” –Susan M. Heathfield/The Balance
10 Strategies to Improve Workplace Health
Unaddressed negativity can lead to so many other issues. That’s why it’s a good idea to find the root of the situation, the heart of the issue, and work to eliminate it whenever possible.
- Communicate regularly and honestly. State your vision, values, and goals with clarity. Never assume that everyone is on the same page. Be intentional with your conversations and make room for healthy discussions. Allowing input from all who may be involved can help to discourage any potential negativity.
- Encourage personal growth and development. Commit to consistently providing beneficial training. Employee growth comes through increased knowledge and understanding. Empower yourself and members of your team with educational tools that are proven to increase productivity and develop strong leaders.
- Discourage Gossip and refuse to participate in any discussions that add no value; that you know could do harm. Counter negative conversation with positive, teachable moments whenever possible.
- Value every member of your team and the role that they have. Be genuinely appreciative of each individual and regularly honor their abilities, skills, and talents with a kind word or a sincere thank you.
- Respect everyone equally. Be consistent in your treatment of coworkers and fair across the board. Negative attitudes often develop from feelings of low self-worth. The respect you show others will create a culture of respect within your workplace.
- Create Opportunities for people to express opinions, concerns, creative ideas, and solutions. Remember that changes may be necessary and be willing to hear from those who may have a negative response. Take the opportunity to help them see the positive points they may be overlooking.
- Build Trust by being authentic. Make it a habit to put others first. Be an example of the level of credibility desired. Maintain your own integrity and expect it from everyone else on your team. Consistently take steps to build strong relationships within, as well outside, the workplace.
- Increase Understanding of individual personalities and their effect on the workplace environment. You have the opportunity to dramatically influence the way others act or think when you’re able to understand why people behave the way they do. Bringing together everyone’s personalities and preferences to form a cohesive, productive team takes work but the payoff can be huge.
- Promote Confidence by reminding your team where you were, what you’ve been able to achieve, and where you will soon be with the help of everyone’s efforts. Point to pivotal moments and help members to envision future positive outcomes.
- Practice Self-Control when dealing with others. Look for more constructive ways to deal with mistakes. Pause to evaluate (and take a deep breath) instead of reacting negatively to a poor performance. Focus less on the negatives and more on the positives and be the professional who leads by example.
All Negativity Isn’t Bad
Of course, you can’t remove every negative thought from the workplace. And you don’t want to.
The kind of negativity you want to eliminate is the kind that promotes doom and gloom…the kind of complaining that does nothing to help anyone or improve any situation.
On the other hand, hearing from someone who cares about the potential negative effects or results of a method, process, or other situation can open your eyes to a new point of view and the possibility of helpful ideas. Use any negative analysis as a positive means of identifying problems and finding beneficial solutions.