When managing a team with a negative attitude, hopelessness and futility often set in. You lose patience as people find fault with their teammates, their organization and pretty much everything else.
You can demand an end to sniping and whining. But entrenched attitudes are hard to uproot.
To overhaul a team’s negativity, encourage each member to engage in a bit of self-reflection. Ask them to go to www.positivityratio.com and click “Take the Test.” This free diagnostic tool, which takes two minutes to complete, helps individuals compute their “positivity ratio,” says Barbara Fredrickson, the website’s creator.
“If a team member has a high or low positivity ratio, it will affect you and the whole team,” says Fredrickson, author of Positivity. “Teams that are more positive are more open to asking questions and exploring each other’s ideas.”
Fredrickson, a psychology professor at University of North Carolina, suggests that participants on teams take her online test every day for two weeks and record the results. You can lift your score by elevating your attitude on a daily basis.
“It’s like stepping on a scale every morning,” she says. “You can track your progress in terms of how you experience 20 different emotional states.”
While team members need not share their results with the group, they should discuss practical steps they’re taking to boost their score. Examples include finding productive ways to defuse fear or stress—or pouncing on opportunities to express gratitude or optimism.
A sure sign that your team is overcoming its negativity occurs after each group gathering. Do you leave feeling pleased and energized? Or do you feel depleted and frustrated?
When hosting a private meeting with a peer or employee over a sensitive matter, begin by asking, “For starters, what questions do you have for me?” This way, you generate a dialogue from the outset and give the person a chance to voice a concern or inquire about a delicate issue. If you talk too much at the start, then others may be so nervous or preoccupied that they fail to listen.