Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace: 6 Ways to Improve Productivity, Reduce Risk of Lawsuits

January 26, 2012  
Elizabeth Hall, Editor
(800) 543-2055  (703) 905-8000

Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace: 6 Ways to Improve Productivity and Reduce the Risk of Lawsuits  

Falls Church, Va. – Even among the employed, stressful economic times make for stressed-out workers. Layoffs often mean a lot more work for the remaining workers. Even the fear of layoffs can keep workers from focusing. And high unemployment rates mean fewer options to ‘job hop,’ so many unhappy workers are simply staying put.

The result can be workplace negativity that insidiously harms productivity.

According to a 2011 OfficeTeam survey of 441 people, nearly half (46%) of U.S. employees say they’ve worked for an “unreasonable manager,” either currently or in the past. Among those, most (59%) stayed in their jobs and either tried to address the situation or resolved to live with it.

 “Many employees are predisposed to mistrust managers, often because of bad experiences with bosses at other jobs,” says Patrick DiDomenico, Editorial Director at Business Management Daily and the founding editor of The HR Specialist . “It’s important to nip negativity in the bud since negativity breeds more negativity and anger.”

“It pays to turn a negative attitude around – not only for efficiency and productivity, but because one wrong move and your company could find itself face-to-face with a lawsuit,” says DiDomenico. “Unhappy employees are far more likely to sue than happy ones.”

He suggests six ways managers can nip negativity in the bud and earn back trust from their employees:

  1. Speak and act with consistency. Employees look for management inconsistencies. So do what you tell employees you will do. Inconsistent words and actions create an impression of unpredictability.
  2. Don’t live in your office. You may feel you’re too busy to communicate, but the resulting aloofness can breed suspicion and distrust. Silence from a manager typically leads to uncertainty. And uncertainty creates a void. Unless a manager fills that void with clear communication, employees will assume the worst. Negativity and rumors will fill in the gaps. Make communicating with employees a top priority each day. Talk to employees on their “turf.” It will help you become more approachable.
  3. Share your vision. It’s not enough to just be optimistic. It’s better to give your team something to be optimistic about. Share with employees your big-picture goals for them and the department. And constantly reiterate what it will take for both to be successful.
  4. Involve employees in decision-making. Employees tend to trust managers who value input from subordinates. Create an environment in which employees feel free to voice their opinions. Listen to employees and implement suggestions that increase efficiency and productivity.
  5. Acknowledge they have lives outside the office. Managers who get to know the person—not just the employee—have an easier time gaining the respect and trust of their workers. Know their hobbies, names of their family members and favorite sports teams.
  6. Criticize privately. Allow employees to make mistakes without being humiliated. Offer constructive criticism in one-on-one meetings, not in front of others. Otherwise, employees may feel vulnerable to receiving criticism any time in any setting.

“Your managerial goal isn’t to banish all negative thoughts from the workplace. There is a difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ negativity … having someone play ‘devil’s advocate’ can open your eyes to potential problems and help find solutions,” adds DiDomenico. “The important thing is to recognize the difference. We need to address the issues underlying the ‘bad’ negativity that comes from cranky, unhappy employees before it infects others.”

For more advice to overcome negativity before it escalates, Business Management Daily offers a 35-page guide booklet:  Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace. The booklet is a quick read that includes “20 Negativity Red Flags” and, more important, what to do about them and other frustrating problems. Employees and employers alike will quickly learn how to discourage negativity, decide what to do and what not to do, offset negativity in meetings, and get to the root issues that create “bad” attitudes.

Booklet topics include: 1) 8 ways to quickly turn around a negative attitude. 2) How to turn negative words into positive ones 3) Ways to handle common scenarios 4) Banishing negativity from your own management style and 5) Guidelines straight from the EEOC.

Price: $10; shipped media mail, Order information here.  

About Business Management Daily
Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace and The HR Specialist are published by Business Management Daily, a division of Capitol Information Group, Inc., providing sound news and advice since 1937. Business Management Daily gives business professionals the news, skills and strategies they need to grow their business, avoid legal pitfalls and advance their careers. Visit us at www.BusinessManagementDaily.com to see the full list of webinars, online training resources, subscription newsletters, free reports, and email updates.