Tips Offered for Halting the Negativity Factor in the
U.S. businesses lose about $3 billion a year to the effects of
workplace “negativity,” which can infect a company like a
fast-spreading virus, affecting productivity, profitability,
Studies of poorly performing businesses have demonstrated that
the effects of workplace negativity can include increased customer
complaints, increased error rates and lowered quality of products
and services offered. Moreover, negativity has been closely linked
to high turnover, employee absences and lateness, increased
personality conflicts, and a loss of motivation, loyalty,
creativity and competitive spirit.
In order to keep workplace negativity from spreading, employers
must get employees and co-
workers to recognize negative habits and then identify positive
behaviors to replace them, according to Gary Topchik,
book, titled Managing Workplace Negativity, was recently published
by the American Management Association.
You should also constantly try to obtain feedback on how you’re
communicating your thoughts, actions and feelings, says Topchik,
who also offers the following advice:
- Acknowledge that the problem exists. If someone is expressing
negativity, don’t ignore it if it’s affecting an individual’s job
performance, your performance, the performance of others or
relationships with potential clients or customers.
- Acknowledge any underlying causes of the negativity. Factors
could include personal problems, job insecurity, a lack of
advancement opportunities or a difficult supervisor. It’s important
to recognize that what’s causing the negativity is often justified,
and the person may have the right to feel that way.
It’s equally important to remember, though, that it’s ultimately
the responsibility of the negative person to change his attitude
and behavior, even though he may be justified in feeling the way he
does. Negativity is still not appropriate for a
Replace negative, inappropriate reactions with different, more
acceptable ones. It may be up to you, as the business owner, to
identify actions that are more positive. You can also be the role
model for your negative workers through your own actions and
One good strategy for avoiding negativity is to keep everyone’s
thoughts in the present, avoiding mulling over past problems or
anticipating future difficulties. Set a time period in which staff
members can express their negative thoughts, and don’t allow them
to be expressed other times during the day.
Topchik also notes that two common workplace pitfalls can help
create negativity and cause employees to lose motivation.
The first pitfall is when managers make the mistake of
inadvertently “punishing”their best employees by giving them more
work to do than others are given to do. Eventually the good
employee gets the message: It’s not a plus to do better work.
Conversely, managers sometimes reward poor performers. They give
them less work to do, or easier work to do. They give the same poor
performers raises for longevity or bonuses out of routine. This
makes the poor performers very happy and the rest of the company’s
employees equally unhappy.