How to Reduce Workplace Negativity 0

Drama in the workplace is an HR nightmare, and it lowers the moral for the entire office. It happens for many reasons, and not just because of different personalities or women bickering and gossiping, which are two of the most cited reasons by managers who don’t know their employees. Negativity often exists because the structures currently in place do not support any changes you make. In other words, employees feel a loss of confidence, control, or community. This could be because of growth in the company, layoffs, or decisions you made that impacted the employees. The best way to combat negativity is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Here are a few tips to help you in that regard.

Allow Employees to Control their Jobs

The most frequent cause of workplace negativity is a manager or organization making a decision about an employee’s work without his or her input. Decisions made that specifically exclude the person affected is perceived as negative and it breeds contempt. Give your staff an opportunity to give you input before you make a decision. Sometimes they may be able to provide an angle you didn’t think or, or they can explain why the change might not be in the company’s best interests. Another factor to consider is that the person doing the job has a day in and day out understanding of what’s happening, while the decision makers look at numbers on a page.

Provide Regular Updates

When a big change is on the horizon, the best approach is to let the employees know. The fact is, most executive teams get a few months to prepare and adjust to the change, but employees don’t know about the change until it happens. It creates a lack of confidence and control within employees, which causes them to feel out of the loop. The brain registers uncertainty as a threat, and when employees feel threatened, they get frustrated and gossip. You can prevent this and other negative behaviors by providing regular updates.

How to Reduce Workplace Negativity

Allow True Open Communication

Employees should be able to discuss their concerns about policies and procedures without fear of retaliation. Far too many companies say they have an open communication policy, but those employees who speak out sometimes find themselves behind everyone else for raises and promotions, or they’re just out of a job. If you have a disruptive, disrespectful employee, that’s one thing. But, in general, true open communication means the employees can address their concerns without fear, and the company includes a two-way review system, which allows employees to review their managers.

Create Clear Policies and Expectations

This one causes a lot of havoc for small and family-owned businesses. The lack of clear boundaries contributes to the lack of consistency. Remember, the brain perceives uncertainty as a threat and that leads to negative behavior, so make sure that policies and expectations are clear. Also make sure you have consequences for not following those rules.

Be Fair

Treat everyone like an adult, and be fair about it. Do not let your top salesperson get away with breaking the rules. Do not ignore policies when it suits the situation. These behaviors cause a lack of trust between the employees and with the company as a whole. Lack of trust in the workplace is corrosive to an effective working relationship, and once it breaks down, the workplace becomes a den of negative drama.

How to Reduce Workplace Negativity

Limit the Rules

Do not create a new set of rules for employees to follow when only a few people are violating the norms. This rigid attempt to control employees will create anger and frustration, which leads to gossip and drama. You want to limit the rules you impose on adults in the workplace, and just let them know the expectation. When you treat people like adults, they will usually live up to your expectations.

Help Everyone Feel Equal

Everyone wants to have the same opportunities, the same information, and the same freedoms as everyone else. When you cherry pick who gets what information, hostility and resentment develop. Provide context for your decisions, unpopular or otherwise, and communicate regularly. Do not play favorites.

Provide Training

Training is expensive, and some companies largely ignore this aspect of development to save money. Don’t. Training, opportunities for promotions, lateral moves for development, and cross-training opportunities show employees that an organization is committed to their growth with the company. Not only that, new employees who do not receive training are less like to meet company expectations their whole career than someone who receives training. There are always exceptions to the rule, but training is important.

Be a Leader

People want to feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves, and when they go to work, they want to know that their actions mean something. An organization without a mission, vision, values, or goals will have more workplace negativity than an organization with them. Those core principles are what define the company, and it makes employees feel comfortable when their employer knows what it stands for, and what it is willing to do.

Rewards and Recognition

As stated before, employees want their contributions to mean something. Providing appropriate rewards and recognition is one of the most powerful tools you can use to bolster staff morale. The rewards do not need to be overly expensive gifts, trips, or watches. Although some companies want to provide those large gifts, sometimes small tokens of appreciation mean more to an employee.

If workplace negativity is an issue for you, there are some immediate actions you can take to fix the situation. The first step is to get to the bottom of the negativity and figure out what’s causing it. Start visiting with your employees to determine what their needs are, and communicate any changes or policies that haven’t been clear in the past. Get the ball rolling on training options and start providing your employees with rewards and recognition to help motivate a positive change.

How to Improve Your Listening Skills 0

As an HR professional or manager, it’s important that you know how to listen. Many people struggle with selective listening, especially when they’re in the middle of something. Sometimes you have to be able to juggle your paperwork and dealing with people. The inability to listen causes meetings and discussions to run over, but more importantly, it damages relationships. Here are a few tips to help improve your listening skills.

How to Improve Your Listening Skills

1. Don’t wait for your turn to speak.

This happens when you’re in a hurry to respond without taking time to hear what the other person is saying. In your mind you’ve jumped to a conclusion and think you know what they’re saying. You may be wrong, so slow down and listen.

2. Don’t interrupt.

This is a challenge for most people. The tendency is to interrupt with questions and thoughts, but resist the urge. Wait until the speaker finishes talking and then ask clarifying questions if needed.

3. Stay calm in the heat of anger.

Some conversations trigger your defense mechanism. When that happens, close your mouth and breathe deeply. Listen to what the speaker has to say in full. Listening doesn’t mean you accept what they said, it just means you’re giving them an ear. Accepting or refuting the claims comes later.

Make sure you focus on the speaker and watch their facial expressions and tone. It can tell you a lot about the course of the conversation and what the speaker is feeling. Using these tips will help deepen your listening skills and build stronger relationships.

7 Tips for Team Building 0

Teamwork is a skill all employers want to some degree, and although it is one of those corporate buzz words that pop up on resumes all the time, few actually understand how to develop an effective team. First of all, you have to understand that developing a sense of teamwork is different from building a focused, effective work team. People confuse these concepts and fail to define the team they want to build. Let’s break that down.

7 Tips for Team Building

A sense of teamwork is when employees feel their individual jobs work together to contribute to the success of the organization. Even though those individuals have a specific job in a specific department, they are still a part of the larger whole. The big picture drives the action of the team, and the individual’s function serves the bigger picture.

You form a focused, effective work team to accomplish a specific goal. Their focus is on a much smaller picture, although it does ultimately relate to the big picture, and the members of that team work together as one unit to complete tasks related to the goal. If you have individuals in your company that do not have a sense of teamwork, well that is another issue entirely.

7 Tips for Team Building

Clear Expectations

When people understand the "why" of something, they are more likely to go along with what you expect of them. Some will have objections and want to buck the system, but the majority of people just want to know why. Tell your team why they’re there and what you expect from them on the project. This includes performance and behavior expectations, as well as clarifying roles and responsibilities. Every person on the team should know exactly what they are responsible for, and how their contributions will help the team achieve the specific goal set before them.


Once you have established the "why," the next step is to get a commitment from each member of the team. You need to understand that employees who had the choice to join the team will buy in much faster than employees who didn’t have a choice. If it’s possible, it’s always better for the team to have members there by choice. You can ask for a verbal or written commitment, but getting the commitment from them ensures they are vested in success. Team members should feel excited and challenged by the opportunity, not stuck and complacent.

Vision and Goals

The team needs to develop a common vision with accompanying goals. These are essential to the team building process and organizational success. Visioning includes collectively imagining what the team is going to create, and where the group wants to go. It is best to start brainstorming ideas together and then develop a cohesive vision from there.

Goals are measurable milestones that help your team achieve their vision, so it makes sense that the team should help decide what those goals should be. Go back to brainstorming together as a group and develop these goals that everyone wants to achieve. It is important that every member buy into the vision and goals, and feel that their contributions are significant, otherwise you don’t have a full commitment and the team will fall apart when the going gets tough.

Team Member Value

All team members should feel valued and supported from the beginning of the project to the end. This is where management needs to step in and make sure the ball is rolling in the right direction. A lack of support from management will unravel a team faster than internal discord. By the way, the internal discord is usually the result of skipping steps one through three. Once management is on-board with the team’s vision and goals, their job is to make sure the employees feel valued. This may be in the form of offering recognition or in the form of coaching. Employees are more productive and focused when they feel valued, and that their contributions make a difference. Do not underestimate this step.

Engaging Exercises

Sometimes a new team must develop the tools necessary to work together. Not everyone works the same way, and personalities also play a part in how people work together. The goal of exercises is to give everyone an opportunity to learn about each other, and how to work together. One exercise that might be helpful is allowing the team to take the Briggs Meyer personality test to determine their personalities, and then discuss what each type of personality is and how they interact with others. If you’re clever, you can design games and fun activities that explore each personality type while helping your team learn to work together.

Take it Outside Work

It is difficult to devote time to team building in an office environment because the daily duties of the job take precedence. You can reduce the everyday distractions by holding the team building sessions outside of the office. This can be over dinner, at someone’s house, or anywhere the team can work effectively. Keep in mind that happy hour is not always the best place for team building. Although drinks may help the team relax and open up, there are inherent risks with that approach. Be mindful of the situation so it does not damage the team.

Be Consistent

The key to building an effective team and maintaining it is to be consistent. If you meet once a week to work on team building exercises, keep meeting until you conclude the project. Refreshers keep the focus on working together. You should also keep in contact with the employees about their needs. This is not a conversation that needs to happen every week, but it is one that should happen more than once. People’s needs change, so it is important to the project that you stay up on those needs and address them as they arise.

Building an effective team to complete a specific task takes initiative and a willingness to listen to others. Management has to get a buy in from everyone on the team, or the "team" won’t work. Explaining the "why" and being consistent will go a long way in building a dynamic team that works together to meet goals. When everyone is on the same page, employees develop a commitment to the group. Once you have the commitment, you have a team.

How to Increase Your Productivity 0

If you’re a working professional, at some point you probably wondered how you could increase your productivity. The answer is simple. The secret to increasing your productivity is to replace unimportant tasks with meaningful ones.

Why People Have a Hard Time Giving Up Tasks

You may have a to-do list that is a mile long, but still find yourself taking on more work. Why is that? Productivity expert, Jordan Cohen, from PA Consulting Group says that humans like to take on tasks that make them feel busy and important, or provide a social outlet that wasn’t previously available to them.

Find the Unimportant Tasks

Unimportant tasks fall into one of two categories:

  • The task is not important or meaningful to you or your organization.
  • The task is easy to delegate.

Take an inventory of your to-do list and determine if anything on it falls into the above categories. If it does, it needs to be cut.

Cut the Unimportant Tasks

You can separate unimportant tasks into three categories:

How to Increase Your Productivity
  • Immediate cuts – tasks you can stop with no negative consequences.
  • Delegation opportunities – tasks you can assign to someone else.
  • Complicated cuts – tasks that require time and structuring to move to someone else.

Follow through, and either cut tasks or delegate them where you can. Clearing them off your plate will create an opportunity for a work-life balance, and it will increase your productivity by giving you time to focus on meaningful tasks and projects.

8 Ways to Show Workplace Appreciation 0

Letting your employees know how much you appreciate them goes a long way toward improving their performance. People want to feel valued, and know that you noticed their contributions. Here are some ideas to help you thank your employees for their hard work.

Say Thank You

Don’t underestimate the power of "thank you." People don’t always need material gifts, they just need to know that you noticed their work. Say "thank you," and while you’re at it, make sure to slip in a "please" every once in a while, too.

Provide Small Gifts

From time to time it may be appropriate to offer your employees a small gift. The best way to do this is to pay attention to what interests them. For example, not everyone drinks coffee, so a standard Starbucks gift card won’t make them feel special. Put some thought into it for the best results.

Provide Bonuses

If the finances permit, one of the best ways to thank employees for their contribution is to provide year end bonuses, quarterly bonuses, or holiday bonuses. After all, most people are externally motivated by money to show up for work.

Take Them to Lunch

If bonuses are not an option for your business, try to take your employees to lunch when you can. Also, buy them lunch on their birthday and work anniversary. Remembering small details about them will make them feel valued.

Bring Chocolate and Other Treats

The occasional cookie or cupcake surprise can turn an employee’s day around, so don’t be shy about offering little treats here and there. Homemade treats stand out and make employees feel special. If the whole office is health conscious, bring fruit or coconut milk freeze pops. There are healthier treats available.

Public Recognition

Public recognition is another tool you can use to thank your employees, but use it wisely. Some employees thrive on public recognition, and some are so painfully shy that such a gesture would have the opposite effect. But, for those who enjoy it, you can send a mass email or announce it at the next meeting.

Quarterly Team Events

Another popular tool to show your employees gratitude is to hold quarterly events. These can be parties, happy hour, bowling, or any other fun event that allows everyone to have a good time. It’s also great for team building and developing strong work relationships.

Create Fun Traditions

These can include holiday traditions or random office traditions that let employees have a little fun at work. Maybe on full moons someone brings Moon Pies to work. Or, at Christmas, the office participates with elf on a shelf and allows everyone to take a turn hiding it.

Thanking your employees for their hard work is an important part of the working relationship you have with them. It helps them feel valued and secure in their job, and improves productivity. If you don’t already do something for your employees, start using one of these options today.