Having employees is hard work. During stressful, busy, or chaotic times staff morale can hit a low point. When morale is down, negativity creeps into a workplace making the environment toxic. As business owners, directors, coaches, and leaders we need to work on changing the energy around us when it starts to go downhill.
I am NOT perfect. Despite my many years in a leadership role, I still have to keep working on these strategies. Believe me when I tell you that awareness will lead to change. Here are 5 ways to lose that negative energy!
- Pause. When you’re confronted with a negative situation, it’s our tendency to react quickly and hopefully squash it quickly. Take a deep breath, and let it be okay to say – “I need to put some thought into this.” Show your concern without judgment. Even a good “hmmmm….” works. Then take some time to empathize and think through it.
- Ask questions, rather than making statements and remove yourself from the cycle. I read an awesome management book called “The Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier. I highly recommend it. In the book, they give seven stellar questions when meeting with an employee or co-worker. So often we find ourselves in “solve it” mode that we insert our opinions into the situation in efforts to help. Rather than assess, ask questions like, “Why is this a challenge for you?” or “How can I help?” When people realize that you’re not going to solve all of their problems, they’ll get the hint quick.
- Accept criticism as opportunity, and try your best not to make excuses. Look at every mistake or critique as an opportunity to be better tomorrow. And don’t beat yourself up! Mistakes are part of growth, and the more you make the better you get. Someone cares about you, your team, or your club enough to help you out. Or, even if you don’t agree, they have a reason to believe what they believe. What vibe are you giving off that warrants the criticism? When people see that your intentions are true, they forgive, and will even support you further. As a leader, if you kindly accept criticism, so will the people that look up to you.
- Appreciate Daily – as much as you can. This is another one that I’ve had to seriously work on. I always thought that if I handed out too many compliments people would stop working. Soooo not the case. Think about it…How do you feel when you’re criticized? How do YOU feel when you’re praised? People (just like kids) want to do more of what they’re praised for. I certainly don’t mean be fake, but if you make it a habit to appreciate what people do right, you’ll be amazed of how receptive they are to make changes when you need them to.
- Make gossip a fireable offense. Sound crazy? I heard this from Dave Ramsey at a conference. “You are every problem and every solution in your business,” he said. It hit me like a ton of bricks. What? You mean I don’t just have to deal with the gossip and negativity? This single statement means we as owners, managers, and leaders have the ability to choose. We choose the hire, we choose the expectations, we choose what to manage, we choose what to make a priority. A LOT of responsibility? Yes. But with responsibility comes freedom. You’re in charge and you have the choice to choose. Dave Ramsay, and now all of my companies use his definition of gossip. “Gossip is negative talk without a proposed solution.” And you can get fired for it. We haven’t had to do it, nor do I hope it ever comes to that, but since simply discussing this the staff, the changes have been amazing.
What do you do to change negative energy? What makes your staff culture great? Let me know in the comments.