5 Ways to Fight Back Against Workplace Negativity

April 13, 2015

Employee engagement has taken root as an effective strategy. Employers are dedicating resources to connect with employees’ personal aspirations and to inspire their best efforts. Business outcomes can include increased sales, reduced absenteeism, and better retention. In response, employees have to be willing to do their part for engagement by acting positively and openly to learn, to surmount challenges, and to pursue innovation. To accomplish this, a collaborative culture has to thrive and there’s little that weighs it down more than the workplace naysayers.

Company leaders and influencers throughout the organization can do a lot to fight back against this downward force. Here are a few ways to lead by example and keep things moving in the right direction:

1 – Shut Down the Gossip

In the workplace, we all have to work together every day. Everyone has close work friends, but there’s no place on your team for cliquishness or badmouthing, if you hope to develop an engaged and collaborative workforce. By simply not participating, you send a message. By objecting, you drive that message home.

2 – Help the Team See the Other Side

It’s easy to complain about another department or another teammate not holding up their end. It’s harder to put your needs in context. Surely, IT isn’t responding to a request because they have an emergency taking priority. Or Finance hasn’t cut checks yet today because they are working on the tax documents due this week. It’s important to understand that our individual requests don’t always come first. Help your team understand the demands of other departments by keeping them updated on big projects throughout the organization.

3 – Don’t Like How It’s Going? Volunteer.

Change is often most easily made from the inside and volunteering to take something on gives you the best chance to make it right. Ask the naysayers to participate in the process, to take a role on the committee, or to submit a proposal for process improvement. You never know what you can learn from the disgruntled person on the front line. Be sure to thank them for their participation and give them realistic feedback.

4 – Celebrate

In most organizations, you don’t have to look far for reasons to celebrate: The latest new business win, a “thank you” email from a client, or quarterly teammate recognition will do, to name a few. Celebrations allow the entire team to share in the success of the organization. Social interactions strengthen work relationships, often across departmental or hierarchical lines. Simply sharing an experience and applauding mutual success can deepen the links between an employee, his or her colleagues, and the company.

5 – Be the Face of the Organization

The organization’s leaders – even unofficial team leaders – represent the company in every interaction. A former colleague of mine called this the “fish bowl” because everyone else is watching. The attitudes of leaders towards the company and its policies and programs are under constant observation. It is critical to present an authentic, company-positive face to inspire the team to adopt initiatives, accept change, and to give it their all.

Leading by example is an important way to establish a corporate culture that works for employees and for the organization.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

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