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Monday, August 30, 2010

Bad attitude! Who, me?

Leading in today’s ever-changing business climate can come with frustrations. Change is constant and often implemented at break-neck speed. As a result, employees who are finding it challenging to adjust and adapt quickly often begin to exhibit negative behaviors. And worst of all, negativity is contagious. It’s important to address as soon as you see signs of it in your workplace.

The signals to look for include criticizing others not present, gossiping, power struggles, lack of teamwork or collaboration, tardiness, absenteeism and even a lack of healthy conflict through withdrawal. People are either unskilled or reluctant to have those difficult but crucial conversations -- critical to a productive environment. When employees are bewildered by change and floundering as they try to cope and adapt -- and in the absence of straightforward methods to deal with growing negativity -- productivity and morale can decline swiftly.

Employees express negativity with statements such as “it will never work,” or whining, sarcasm, or sighing, and even outright complaining. As a leader, the worst thing you can do is to remain silent and permit or tolerate bad attitudes and negative behaviors.

Here are some tips to help you eliminate negativity:

--Start with yourself and check your language and behaviors.
--Persist in showing zero tolerance for negativity.
--When negativity could escalate easily, smile…choose not to react in that moment.
--Stop the cycle of a lack of appreciation.
--Don’t collude with the negative employee - Be careful not to validate or encourage negativity just to make the individual feel better.
--Lead by example. Identify and authentically communicate the positive aspects of the situation.
--Offer recognition when deserved and for specific behaviors and results.
--Ask open-ended questions, listen and help develop solutions.
--Counsel the complainer and challenge negative and pessimistic thinking and beliefs.
--Set expectations. Don’t permit others to complain without first suggesting possible solutions.

As a leader, you are in a strong position to break the cycle. At the end of the day, you can’t please everyone. But you can do your best to educate and inspire those around you. Is your negativity level growing? Do you have the skills and motivation to turn yourself and others around?

If you’re interested to learn more on this topic, Manpower is hosting a webinar on Creating Positivity in the Workplace on September 29.

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