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There is nothing more detrimental to workplace morale or productivity than the constant presence of negativity. It saps the life and energy out of your business and diverts critical attention from work and performance. Negativity is a way of thinking, occurring from a person’s attitude or outlook. It can be the talk of one member of your team or a whole host of voices in response to a particular workplace decision.
Gary S. Topchik, the author of Managing Workplace Negativity, in a Management Review article, believes that negativity is often the result of a loss of confidence, control, or community. Knowing what people are negative about is the first step in solving the problem.
While you may think the answer is to simply blame the women bickering and gossiping in the lunch room, as a human being, our natural and biological response to change and uncertainty is negativity. Our brains crave stability and inevitability and when you feel uncertain the part of your brain known as the amygdala releases chemicals into your blood stream meaning that you experience fear, anxiety and doubt – in a nutshell, it releases a whole bunch of negative thoughts and feelings all in one go.
As an owner/operator, manager or superior in your field, Susan M. Heathfield outlines that by providing opportunities for people within your business to make decisions (where appropriate) that influence their own work, this will decrease the amount of workplace negativity. The single most frequent cause of workplace negativity that Heathfield has encountered is due to management within a business, making decisions about a person’s work without his/her input. This can be downgrading to your employee, making them feel undervalued and unwanted. Almost any decision that excludes the input from the person doing the work will result in negative angst.
An increased sense of security will lesson opportunities for the amygdala to be fired up, releasing those nasty chemicals into your employees’ blood streams. The problem here is that whilst the executive team has had three months to prepare for a big change within the business, the employees are always the last to know – only being informed as the change is about to happen.
As an owner or a manager in your respective field, given the above situation I ask that you put your ‘employee’ hat on and take a walk in their shoes for a minute, now take in that notion of uncertainty you’re feeling – being out of the loop, disconnected from your superior/s, not knowing what to expect until the last minute – thinking is your job actually safe? Will you have a steady income for the foreseeable future? In all reality, with these types of thought patterns that you’re experiencing, it is no wonder assumptions are made and gossip can start.
So be courteous to your employees and manage appropriate transparency to any changes that are going to take place. Reduce uncertainty by providing regular updates; how your employee may be directly impacted, why changes are to be made and when they can expect it to be happening. Keeping the lines of communication open will go a long way in ensuring that any negative thoughts/feelings do not take hold of your company morale. By keeping your employees informed will instill feelings of trust and lines of open communication – which lets be honest, can only do good things for your business.