10 Characteristics of Emotionally Healthy People (at Work)

My clinical training sometimes leads me to make observations in the workplace that a typical HR professional might not see. This particular article discusses employee emotional health. I have spent years working with companies trying to deal effectively with emotionally unhealthy individuals and the havoc created by emotional outbursts and unrealistic expectations. This material flips that concept to the positive and discusses emotionally healthy individuals — how they handle challenges in the workplace.

Emotionally healthy and well-adjusted folks generally receive reinforcement for their sound conduct in the average workplace. Coworkers typically see them as good performers and loyal employees. Supervisors describe them as great workers. In my experience, these folks are also less stressed in the average workplace.

1. They know who they are

Emotionally healthy people are introspective enough and have paid enough attention to feedback on their style, to have a realistic sense of their strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, these folks have had the motivation and opportunity to work on some of their weaknesses, especially in dealing with people so that they have experienced positive self-growth. In this way, they can believe in the positive change in others making them a strong candidate for leadership when combined with technical skill.

2. They don’t worry obsessively about whether people like them

While it is helpful if coworkers and leaders are well-liked by folks at work, it isn’t the most important thing. This is true especially in a negative or dysfunctional workplace. At the point just before organizational interventions and positive shifts, it is often the disliked individual who has the best ideas and the courage to put them out there. In a position of leadership, being well-liked could be an indicator of success if all the staff members are high performing, self-aware people! For a leader working with a poor performing or poorly motivated group, someone who keeps good professional boundaries will have a more objective view of staff performance and be able to offer suggestions for improvement.

3.They treat others with respect – golden rule

Someone who feels good about him/herself can feel comfortable giving others credit and treating others well. One of the things employees want most in the workplace is to be treated with respect. In a toxic workplace, it is a strong individual who can resist negative group behavior. When a respectful person has a disrespectful leader he/she can listen to the noise from above and then rather than pass that along, work with consideration when dealing with his/her own team. Those who strive to treat others with respect make great role models regarding ethical behavior.

4. They don’t have a need to over-control things and people

Hyper-control of people and things isn’t really productive at work. Sometimes people think that because they can manipulate others that they actually can control them but human beings do what they want most of the time. Even the most meek individual will naturally resist the control of over-controlling coworkers or supervisors. Sometimes folks can be controlled through fear but it doesn’t last. Comfort with a coworker’s unpredictable behavior helps prevent the typical overreaction and can also help them resist the negative manipulation of others.

5. They are comfortable communicating expectations and letting go

Especially in leaders, a comfort level with providing clear goals and allowing employees to shine is good delegation. Providing well-timed guidance along the way is key to allowing staff to grow and improve. This characteristic is associated with noticing when staff have success from their own actions and offering credit to people who did the work with modest support from their boss.

 6. They have a realistic concept of what an Employer can do

Having realistic expectations of your boss or workplace is incredibly healthy as well as practical. Even the best workplace includes mistakes and misunderstandings. The key is how someone reacts to them. Some employees withdraw and assume everything is directed at taking advantage of them (usually but not always, a bit paranoid!) While others give someone the benefit of the doubt as to motivation; remain calm and engage in a dialogue of what happened and how to help make it better. These folks don’t need everything to be perfect, they just expect others to do their best.

7. They manage their emotions at work.

Healthy people do not impose their strong emotions on others in the workplace. They have patience and resist impulsive actions based upon fear or anger. They know their own emotions; they don’t judge them; and they are comfortable having them. This allows them to vent inevitable emotions in a confidential, safe and productive manner. This is related to not blaming others in anger for their own mistakes.

8. They can accurately identify and accept emotions in others

This is helpful since no workplace is devoid of emotions. Understanding and accepting that people have feelings about what happens at work, especially to them personally, can help a coworker anticipate which are the “hot button” issues.  This allows good companies and good leaders to be careful and thoughtful when considering unpopular changes that must be made for sound business reasons. Finally, these folks understand that just because someone has a negative reaction to their idea, doesn’t make it a bad idea. Staying detached from coworker overreactions is helpful in today’s stressful workplace.

9. They are comfortable with their role in the workplace

These folks know the difference between their personal needs and the company’s goals or mission. There are a number of personal needs employers must attend to like paid time off and such but no company can meet every employee personal need. There is a compensated agreement – the average employee produces a reasonably good end result and the company rewards this monetarily and otherwise. I find that when recruitment candidates want a new employer to “make them whole,” this misses the point of the mission, goals, culture and finances of the new company.

10. They are relatively happy with who they are and what they have achieved.

The best way to articulate this quality is to picture the person who is insecure and wants out-sized, external reinforcement of their worth through unrealistic salary increases, promotions or office environments. There is nothing wrong with consistent and fair rewards for performance but an employee who is contributing less and wanting more creates a tough dilemma for any company. If you are happy with who you are and what you’ve achieved, you generally feel intrinsic reward when doing your best and achieving company goals. You also appreciate fair, reasonable treatment and compensation.

It is acknowledged that some of the qualities described here are very hard to maintain when the workplace is toxic or dysfunctional. If an emotionally healthy employee finds him/herself in a toxic workplace, strength of character will hopefully and eventually lead them to find a new position in a healthier workplace.

(c) Copyright 2015 BCSPublishing Do not reprint without permission.

Building Employee Engagement AND Positive Culture

10 Key Points in the Employee Life Cycle

There are numerous points in the course of an employee’s career with you, that allow you to build the connection between the company and its employees. Reasons to be concerned about this are: positive employee engagement correlates with financial success; positive engagement contributes to positive culture; engagement leads to retention of your best people.

Retention in today’s employment world

As the economy improves across industries, your employees have increasing options outside your group. When you imagine a recruiter or competitor phoning your employee with an opportunity, how do you think of their response?  Be realistic. Here are some possible responses to a:

  • “I’ve been waiting for your call.”
  • “What kind of salary are we talking about?”
  • “You know, I haven’t seen my boss in a month.”
  • “I’m pretty happy here.”
  • “Nice base pay, I have a lot of other benefits here, including a generous bonus.”
  • “I don’t really care what the opportunity is, this is the best place I’ve ever worked.”

Think about it. We know you’re busy with operational matters so how much attention have you actually paid to your employees’ needs, their ideas or their development? Every time a supervisor engages with their staff is an opportunity to deepen the quality of the company’s relationship with them. Employees won’t always move for money. They will generally listen to an offer if you haven’t paid attention. They will always listen to an offer if you haven’t treated them with respect. In fact, they will actively look for a new job if they feel devalued by you.

Here are 10 Key Points in the Employee Life Cycle – opportunities during the employee’s career to build your relationship and to involve them in contributing to your positive culture:

  1. When you hire: If you recruit for technical skill, relevant experience, work approach and values in sync with your positive culture your chances of advancing a positive culture increase.
  2. When you orient: Do you pay attention to their particular need for information? Do you orient to the company, its culture and their position? Do you check in with them often during the first 90 days?
  3. When you train & develop: most high performers want to do well and they want to learn. Smart employees get the connection between personal development and advancement. How do you know what they want and what you need them to know. Simple strengths and weaknesses assessment/discussions will reveal the information you need.
  4. When you evaluate: Do you evaluate their quantitative (objectively measured) results and qualitative (relationship, social, subjective) results?
  5. When you listen to input: Your employees are a valuable source of real inside information. It pays to gather their opinions or input on company-wide initiatives and plans.
  6. When they tell you their dreams: Employees may not always tell you about their interest in advancement. You can ask and then help them to see a connection between their strengths and results and their opportunity for bigger assignments.
  7. When you respond to their needs: Employee needs and situations have a strong relationship to the benefits they need. Younger employees need access to housing, money for education costs or student loans and real-time access to payroll information. They need less full medical benefits and they can tolerate higher deductibles. Older, more established adults need different things. Think about choices. Think about everyone.
  8. When you encourage rest: All employees and by association, their employer benefit from resting their minds and their bodies. If your employees carry out manual tasks, this increases in importance. Strive for coverage so that employees can take their time off. Don’t pay them cash for unused time off unless its an unusual situation that does not repeat.
  9. When you offer opportunities: Some employees want to do the same job for years. Some really don’t. If your employees want varying experiences let them tryout different jobs. This builds broadly talented folks who are great candidates for leadership and helps them develop awareness of their own needs and strengths. Self aware employees are your friend.
  10. When you allow changes in schedule: If you have very long service employees or your workforce includes employees over 50, allowing them to work part-time instead of retiring or quitting preserves their institutional knowledge and often your best employees. In addition, even the best of young employees have life issues that interfere with an overly full-time position. People may need a break from years of 60 hour weeks.

(c) Copyright 2014 BCSPublishing all rights reserved

You Reap the Culture You Sew – 5 Steps to keeping things positive!

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5 Steps to getting and keeping positive culture

Organizational culture is a combination of the nature of your business/mission, stated values and philosophies; leaders’ personal philosophies; and employee personal values. Corporate policies and leadership guidance strongly influence employee behavior. If leadership demands facts and data before product or program changes, employees are influenced to base decisions and recommendations on real information as opposed to feelings or anecdotes. If leadership worries about employee feelings and reactions, employees will begin to think about this before recommending changes.

Company norms

Companies have unwritten norms for things like how efficient they expect employees to be? Whether individual results are more important than team results? Which is more important, financial results or quality results? Depending upon what’s most important, the company can create concrete mechanisms that incentivize or reward emphasis on the right performance areas. Leaders are generally good at deciding what behavior they want when they can perceive a direct connection to the bottom line.

Employee relations

But let’s turn our attention to a more abstract and behavior-dependent variable: how employees relate to one another. This is one area where personal values are very powerful. Absent encouragement and modeling pro-social relations by top management, leader and employee personal values and behaviors will prevail. How confident are you that, left to their own devices, employees will perfectly balance quality end results with collaboration and support for each other? Or, that they will refrain from negative behaviors toward each other when under pressure?

Recruitment screening

How do you recruit? Do you emphasize technical skills and relevant experience? Or do you also look at approach to work and relationships with peers? Do you look at cultural fit and ask for examples of how the applicant has dealt with challenging relationship situations? I typically paint a picture of a challenging, gossipy peer and ask whether the applicant has run into this. I also ask what they think is the best way to respond. Answers can help you see whether the applicant has the courage and verbal skills to resist gossip with finesse or whether their refusal to go along with gossip is rough or abusive. To me it is as important that employees be able to say no with courtesy as it is to share a company’s positive values.

Influence of negative employees

The most significant difference between companies who articulate and manage workplace culture and those who don’t, is the response to toxic employees and bullies. In companies where pro-social employee relationships are modeled and expected, bullies have a hard time getting traction. Where management is silent on employee relationships, bullies and toxic employees thrive. You might say, “Just don’t hire bullies!” Good idea, but even the best recruiters can be fooled. These crafty folks can slip through the screening, particularly if they have great verbal and manipulation skills or excellent technical credentials. Once in your work network, these folks begin to manipulate, control and intimidate others, including their supervisors.

Prevent problems through strategic approach

I have built a successful consulting practice helping companies unravel poor cultures after years of neglect. It’s difficult, painful and not for the faint of heart. Try this approach:

  1. Articulate the work culture you want – include specific examples of desired conduct you like, and behaviors you don’t (gossip and manipulation);
  2. Emphasize both results and conduct – in HR mechanisms: job descriptions and performance evaluations;
  3. Recruit for skills, experience, conduct AND values– ask a range of questions;
  4. Train employees – how to balance and resolve challenging relationship situations as they arise;
  5. Monitor conduct and intervene – with negative and manipulative employees.

 

(c) Copyright BCSPublishing 2014 all rights reserved

What are Toxic Employees and Workplace Bullies Costing You?

This topic is receiving increased attention today for a few reasons. First, 26 states in the US have reviewed or are reviewing legislation to make serious, targeted bullying a statutory crime. Second, increasingly research shows the productivity cost to work teams bothered by these distractions. Third, studies also show that positive culture and employee engagement together, are correlated with increased financial success — these employees disrupt an employer’s efforts to fully engage their workforce. Finally, studies show that employees treat customers the way they are treated by supervisors and coworkers.

Let’s look at the cost

  • Distracted employees: employees who are concerned about the negative social tactics bullies use on them do not concentrate on work. They talk to other victims; they strategies how to stay out of the cross-hairs; they look for work elsewhere. They do this every day when the bully is at work.  There are various studies on this but assume that employees working in the same unit as the bully spend 20% of their day on these matters. Multiply their salaries and benefits by 20% and then by the number of work days in a year. 
  • Sabotage of work process: a fairly common tactic applied by toxic employees is withholding information from those who have fallen from favor. Perhaps a coworker has complained about them to the boss. Toxic employees who are responsible for distributing key information to others have the power to withhold that information as punishment. This slowed-down production costs you.
  • Lost sales and revenue opportunities: distracted employees don’t make sales and employees who are treated badly often apply that treatment to your customers. Let’s say this has only a small effect – five percent applied to annual sales.
  • Increased absenteeism: employees subjected to social isolation and other workplace abuse are more likely to be absent from work than peers in an otherwise healthy workplace. Take another ten percent of annual payroll for workers in the effected department. 
  • Long term health costs: workers subjected to bullying tactics are sick more often. They suffer physical symptoms of stomach and digestive distress, high blood-pressure, and body aches. Then there are emotional symptoms like lack of energy associated with depression. Eventually, medical claims will increase which, depending on the size of your company, may effect your claims experience rating. Increased premiums for you and your employees!
  • Reputation costs: Companies develop reputations both in their local communities and now in a wider, Internet-based community. A company’s negative reputation builds gradually. Over time, toxic employees target all the employees you want to retain. They go after employees they can’t manipulate like: high performers, workers with high ethics, and workers who don’t want to see friends victimized. People who are comfortable with a negative environment stay and those who are looking for a pro-social environment leave. The longer this goes on, the worse the overall atmosphere will get. It’s difficult to put a specific price on this dynamic but it sounds bad, doesn’t it?
  • Negligent retention costs: Employers who ignore bullies and toxic employees are much more likely to be sued. Sooner or later the bully targets the wrong employee. Perhaps it’s an older person in a workplace filled with young people? What if their targets tend to be women? What if it’s the one gay employee whose “out” in your workplace. Emotionally injured and disgruntled employees sue. Even if they don’t prevail, lawsuits are a significant distraction to all involved. While not all employees whose rights are violated hire an attorney, the idea is to prevent this abusive and unnecessary behavior and engage the diversity of employees in a positive, healthy environment.

It’s worth the effort

There is so much to be gained by having a workplace of respect and collaboration. While it’s not easy to address a well-entrenched negative employee, it can be done. Employers need to articulate a positive standard of behavior; intervene when employees clearly violate this standard; and support the employees around the offender and help them set better boundaries. Finally, intervene swiftly and decisively when a bully retaliates against someone they think has spoken up against them. It will be difficult for you but it will clearly pay off in the end.

(c) Copyright BCSPublishing 2013 all rights reserved. 

Information Hoarding and Power Hoarding at Work

Information management problems? Maybe it’s just poor workflow or maybe you are dealing with information hoarding! A good friend emailed me recently about the concept of hoarding at work. I write and speak extensively about individuals who sabotage others’ performance and damage workplace culture. The act of withholding information is a common tactic used by toxic employees. This article will outline examples of information withholding and power withholding, both aimed at maintaining the offending employee’s informal power at work.

Merely poor workflow?

Some workplaces flow work and information seamlessly from one work group to another. This doesn’t happen by accident. Optimum efficiency requires the identification of the key information required by each work group as products or information flow from a point of origin to the point of delivery.

Few companies have the discipline to step back from operational concerns to make a sound analysis of this key work process. But the concept of efficient work process assumes that workers are either attuned to effective processes or, are neutral and just passing work through to the best of their ability. There’s another story.

Rule of 1/3rds

When thinking of workplace dynamics, it’s helpful to picture three groups along a continuum. More details follow:

  1. Those who support the company, sound processes and strong personal performance;
  2. Those who are neutral, undecided and who want to do reasonably well but are averse to confrontation and not particularly ambitious; and
  3. Employees, who are suspicious of management, don’t particularly like the company and in some cases work against company goals to their own personal ends.

This last type of “toxic” employee is not guided by a code of ethics or duty to support coworkers to do their best. They are often motivated by personal gain. Their coworkers are either favored allies or those by whom they feel threatened. Information withholding is a means to marginalize those out of favor. More information on this dynamic can be found at: “All about Toxic Employees in the Workplace.”

Information Hoarding

Somewhat more benign information control might include individuals who wish to control certain kinds of information with good intent. A forms manager may be a little obsessed about ensuring that no one else makes changes to forms without going through the “proper” channels. This might serve a useful purpose – forms are well-organized and only the most recent versions are available.

Information Hoarders are at the more destructive end of the information-control continuum. These individuals deliberately deprive folks of needed information. This tactic increases their power and diminishes the power of those who are missing timely or crucial information. Examples can include:

  • Withholding or delaying key information that other departments need to do well.
  • Leaving names off invitations or the notice of a change in location or time of important meetings (think about the scene in the movie, “Baby Boom” where the lead female character is surprised when she comes into work and finds an important meeting is underway at an earlier time).
  • Omitting a name from a printed list of department staff or printing an alternative name so that the proper resource never receives calls and requests.
  • Omitting names from email distribution of updates, marketing information or other data that helps individuals do their best.
  • Denying access to electronically stored data or interfering with information needed to access this data.
  • Purposely ignoring email or voice mail requests for information or help.

Power Hoarding

Similar to Information Hoarding, Power Hoarding involves inflating one’s value or diminishing the value of others. Examples are:

  • Sabotaging the performance results of other employees.
  • Giving assignments that are impossible to carry out successfully.
  • Withholding credit or taking credit for others’ performance or ideas.
  • Limiting access to people who are powerful in the company hierarchy.

There are ways for Leaders to mitigate these tactics. Among them, speaking directly to the offending employee when he or she is caught using these tactics. If it was an innocent mistake it won’t happen again. If it is part of a pattern, consequences can be increased. If you are a coworker, the social dynamics and informal power structure at play may make you a target if you speak up. Don’t power struggle directly with these clever employees. You won’t win. My blog includes several other articles with comprehensive strategies for dealing with toxic employees in the workplace.

(c) Copyright 2014 BCSPublishing, do not reprint without permission.

 

6 Tips for Young Supervisors Directing Older workers

For some industries, front line supervisors rise up the ranks by gaining technical experience. Working 15 years, an employee could move up to supervisor because he or she has more experience than most of the workers supervised. This historical picture has certainly changed.  Younger workers can learn through education some of what used to take 10 to 15 years to learn as an apprentice.  In addition, the accelerated pace of change and increasing competition create the need for broader supervisory skills. This has put pressure on companies to hire and promote supervisors who have the relationship building, collaboration and technology skills to run today’s production departments.

This dynamic makes it more likely that young supervisors will be directing the work of employees who might be older and more technically experienced. Competent supervisory support to older technical workers requires that supervisors move away from technical problem-solving and bring a broader skill set to the table.

One avenue by which a supervisor can build support for and relationships with direct reports has to do with how supervisees spend their time. Employees are typically concerned with department operations – answering phones, solving problems and producing materials or reports. Being immersed in the day-to-day allows little time to step back and improve processes or think long-term. This, in turn, creates an opportunity for a caring and observant supervisor to lend a hand. Making things easier or creating opportunities for better supervisee success promotes trust and appreciation and can lay a foundation for employee loyalty and engagement.

1. Time and attention

Most employees want to feel that their employer values their work and most want to be a part of a team working toward common goals. No matter the age of the worker or the supervisor, the boss can provide positive feedback and encouragement. Perhaps it’s been a while since the employee has had regular evaluations. Maybe the former supervisor was just “one of the guys” who didn’t take a leadership posture. In any event, a supervisor can spend time with his or her staff, listening to the challenges they face and understanding the dynamics of the entire department. Employees will respond to someone who listens and values their ideas and attends to their challenges.

2. Technology

Generally, though not always, younger supervisors have technology ideas and skills that can prevent errors (what employee wouldn’t want to decrease error rates?), eliminate data entry tedium or eliminate unnecessary paperwork. Wise use of technology can make employee work life easier. Older workers may (not always) have difficulty learning to use some of the automation tools companies are likely to implement. They can resist the need for new tools or if they do support changes, they may be embarrassed about their slow learning curve. A supervisor can be instrumental in both explaining the financial or quality reasons for technological improvements and supporting increased technology skills. Sometimes it’s just walking an employee through opening an Excel spreadsheet and making sure the right things are at the employee’s finger tips (icons on a desktop). In a more complicated situation, identifying the right training program and advocating for training time and money is helpful.

3. Efficiency and work analysis

Increasing competition and the high cost of doing business places high value on efficiency. Supervisors can review workflow and eliminate waste. Less reliance on paper and outdated processes can make work more pleasurable. Eliminating duplication or extra steps improves efficiency and can positively affect the bottom line. Perhaps workers have ideas for increasing effectiveness but no one’s listened or maybe they just lack the skills or authority to change the process.

4. Obtaining resources

As the business environment changes, lack of resources, over-lean staffing and fluctuations in workload present challenges. A supervisor can be helpful in a number of ways. He/she can analyze workload fluctuations, prepare analysis of staffing ratios and develop scenarios where additional resources – either temporary or permanent – would be justified by workloads.

5. Preventing burnout

Particularly in high volume, high production environments burnout can be a regular part of an employee’s job evolution. Supervisors can help in multiple ways – noticing the signs of burnout before they get so bad that an employee quits or becomes disgruntled; resolving some of the physical and psychological demands that contribute to burnout; and finally, encouraging employees to take their paid time off. Production oriented work sites carry the added pressure of worry for what will happen during the absence. Employees worry about things falling apart and client relationships strained. Then there are issues like emails building up unattended. None of these are insurmountable but employees distracted by daily matters can’t always step back to see them as solvable. Supervisors need to listen to reasons why employees don’t feel they can take time off and address them one-by-one.

6. Lending a strategic focus

Focus on day-to-day challenges, again, makes it difficult to see the big picture or to think very long-term. As a supervisor, one has the advantage of seeing things from the bigger landscape. Understanding relationship problems among departments may prove instrumental to improving collaboration and eliminating conflict. Employees in one department may not have the authority to change or improve their relationships with other departments. Supervisors can reach out to peer supervisors and employees in closely related departments to review processes and remove barriers.

Supervisors often have the time to review trends and predictions. They also know more about the company’s long-range plans and goals. Knowing these along with understanding today’s problems put supervisors in a position to map the way to long-term success. Knowing where you need to go and what’s broken today is how planners set a path to achieving long-range goals.

There may be a learning curve in a new relationship between young supervisors and older, technical employees. Early setbacks are likely but eventually, one open-minded supervisee will help you promote your own value. Successes will demonstrate supervisory value.

(c) Copyright 2014 BCSPublishing all rights reserved

HR “Rule of Thirds”- Key to Building Positive Culture

Unless you have been unusually successful managing your workplace culture (more on this below), there are some general rules that can help you when planning changes, improvements or just plain communicating company decisions to your employees. Not all your employees think alike.

Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is routinely used in political campaigns in order to tailor messages to undecided voters. Campaign managers assume that some will support the candidate no matter what he/she does, some would never vote for the candidate and some might vote for the candidate but it will take some convincing.

At any given time your employee base is made up of three general groups with a range of attitudes about you, their employer.  Approximately one-third of your employees like the company, appreciate the job and work to achieve company quality and results goals (champions).  Approximately one-third do not like the company, do not enjoy their work and may not be all that hard-working (negatives).  Finally, one-third are neutral, and can be swayed by their employee peers (undecideds).  If you take the time to survey employees you will be able to pinpoint more exact numbers but you get the general idea.  Competent human resource professionals spend a lot of time talking with employees and since negatives tend to complain, HR folks generally know who they are.  Another way to identify negatives is when implementing change.  Even if they don’t speak up to owners, they will speak up to their peers.

How to use this information

This information is key to creating a positive work culture overall.  Highly successful and efficient companies spend more time cultivating relationships with champions and undecideds and less time trying to convince negatives to like the company. I always watch with frustration when my client companies agonize over the picky, negative opinions offered publicly by disgruntled employees. You can’t please everyone so why beat yourself up over criticism that may have little or no real value?  However, if these individual are causing damage to the company’s reputation or poisoning other employees, handle this through the performance evaluation process. Spend time working to reward the “positives” and engage the “undecideds.” Talk to them and listen carefully. These are the employees you want to understand completely.

When making changes/improvements

Knowing your employee groups when changing company processes is essential.  If you have a great idea for improving a work process and the positives love it, it’s probably a good idea.  If the positives have concerns or critique, it probably needs work.  Negatives tend to complain about any change particularly if it means working differently. As mentioned above, when you communicate something new negatives will let you know that you can’t count on them to work harder/smarter.  Listen carefully and think about how you manage employee performance and attitude. When negatives  move from just talk into negative actions, it is time to look at your performance evaluation process.  Do you include an accountability for promoting a positive company image or perhaps something about not interfering with company improvements?  If not, you may want to refine your performance management tools.

Who is negative and who is just picky?

Negatives may simply be glass-half-empty people or they may be negative because of some interaction with management that didn’t go their way.  In any event, they speak up about what they don’t like.  As mentioned above, address their attitudes and actions through the performance evaluation process.  You should be careful, however, not to dismiss every negative comment as irrelevant. Some positives are perfectionists whose natural process is to analyze processes for weaknesses.  They make great editors and would be good “early testers” when you want to test out new ideas. Harnessing this energy to improve company processes is smart.

360 degree culture management

When a company embarks on a comprehensive workplace culture improvement initiative, it will be helpful to know the exact proportions of the company’s “thirds” and not just a general estimate. How you might improve workplace culture overall is beyond the scope of this piece but it would clearly involve an agreed upon set of values and strategies to see that employees work within those values every day. Recruitment and performance evaluation systems should be bringing “positives” into the company and rewarding them when they operate in a way that foster’s company goal achievement. It would involve mechanisms to improve poor performance and poor attitudes that negatively impact the work of others. Finally, it would include company leaders and employees who model/live by the company’s stated values.

Hire and reward more positives; convert undecideds into positives; curtail the complaining and unproductive behavior of negatives;” and when necessary, move negatives out of the company all together.

(c) Copyright 2013 BCSPublishing all rights reserved