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Posted at: May 15, 2019, 9:50 AM; last updated: May 15, 2019, 9:50 AM (IST)MANAGER’S DESK

Plug in to positivity

Negativity in your team is like a flat tire in a car. You can't go anywhere unless you change it
Plug in to positivity

Sanjay Arora

Persistent workplace negativity affects employee morale more than anything else. It takes away the energy of your organisation and diverts critical attention from productivity and performance. Negativity can occur in the attitude, outlook, and talk of one department member, or in a crescendo of voices responding to a workplace decision or event.
The symptoms of workplace negativity are increased customer complaints, high turnover, low quality of work, increased absences, loss of morale and motivation, lack of creativity and innovation, loss of loyalty to the organisation and so on. The list is endless.

Workplace negativity may look like an intangible problem--but it has very critical, quantifiable consequences for the companies it plagues. Bureau of Labour Statistics estimates that US companies lose $3 billion every year due to the negative attitudes and behaviours at work.

In an environment where change and fear is looming down on the employees, how does a manager keep the spirits held up high? Is there a prescription? Well, there could be: One teaspoon of empathy, with one portion of motivation every 6 hours along with a 10 am log-in every morning and bed at sharp 11pm every night. And last but not the least, ignore everything that doesn't seem alright.

Here are few simple rules for a manager:

Be all ears, all yours: As a manager, if you can't annoy somebody every day, there is little point in really calling yourself one. Being present and visible to the employees establishes an unsaid notion of them being aware of your whereabouts and the ease to call out whenever needed. At times when they are juggling to cope with reality, this might become a little too relevant. With being visible also comes the responsibility to listen, deeply. Listen to let them know they that they are being heard, cause frustration mixed with a feeling of being neglected is poison. If you are the boss, you need to keep up an appearance of being interested in many such conversations.

Be the chess master: You know your team members, but do you see what each one of them is capable of? Acknowledge their strengths and value their presence. The expectancy theory indeed works in beautiful forms when they show results. As a manager, your awareness of the professional and personal needs of each employee would support you to support them better through the transition. Appreciate their efforts and say thank you, it's the smallest gestures that make people feel what they feel about their environment.

Much more than a game of scores: The best part of being a manager is the high energy that they bring to the table, like the enthusiasm they bring when they walk around telling people what to do. Keeping scores are important to measure performance and tasks, but when the struggle to keep the positivity is high, maybe knowing when to score and when to flex is worth it. Not everything needs to be measured, when employees are figuring out the situation, it is comforting to give them a breather than they might seek. 

Men may come and men may go but the team stays: Let alone the adrenalin junkies, most people adore stability. Are you the manager who creates a sense of stability for your team despite the changes that might affect them? The idea is that one might not want to take the fall alone, or with strangers, but one might just be okay take a fall with certain people, can you as a manager provide the sense of feeling that may what happen, the team shall flourish. In unity, comes power. Communication and transparency are key, let not the employees feel that they are unaware of what goes around in the organisation. Communicate the vision, the whys the whats and the hows to ensure the maximum amount of transparency.

Next to excellence is the appreciation of it: Whatever may be written in the books, the right reward is the best appreciation. Provide appropriate rewards and recognition so people feel their contribution is valued. The power of appropriate rewards and recognition for a positive workplace is remarkable. Suffice to say, reward and recognition are two of the most powerful tools an organization can use to buoy staff morale

Everything has its share of drawbacks, but whether you consider them an opportunity or a circumstance is a choice, and you as a manager can drive the mindset that leads a negative environment to positivity. 

— The writer is chief mentor and CEO, Maven


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