Managing the Balance Between– Negativity and Positivity– in Workplace: Organizational Success is All About Attitude…

Negativity is a kind of cancer that occurs in most organizations… Every organization seems to have at least one person who has a tendency toward negativism– You know the type: ‘No, that will never work’, or ‘That’s stupid’,  or ‘That’s impossible’… According to Eric Friedman; no organization can escape occasional bout of negativity; whether it’s complaining about company policy, or working conditions, or frustrated with a management hire, or bitching about the terrible coffee… When left unchecked, negativity can dramatically impact organizations; its moral, productivity, profitability, reputation...

However according to Gareth Cartman; imagine a world without negativity– smiles everywhere, acquiescence everywhere… In a world free of negativity, you would do everything. You would never question anything, you would just get on with things and do it. Yay for positivity! Hurrah for positivity! But after a while things start to go wrong. The idea that nobody questions– a project, a decision, a new product… that everyone thought was so brilliant– but then things go so badly awry… But hey, let’s all be very positive until the whole organization falls apart because no one wanted to be negative…

In the article Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace by Jeanne Bliss writes: Negativity can be brutal: I’m not even talking about normal culprits like; gossip or ineffective management… yes, that’s part of it and that’s certainly negativity but it goes beyond that– it’s a cancer in workplaces… It’s about worker engagement, careless attitude… which has huge implications for the success of an organization… If workers are– unhappy, disengaged, negative… then the organization will suffer and eventually fail, if not corrected…

Research from MIT’s Sloan School of Management showed that most workplaces lack clear organizational priorities… Only one-third of senior managers could correctly identify the organization’s priorities. When you drop 2-3 levels below senior management, it’s essentially a vacuum around priorities… which means middle management are self-prioritizing themselves, and that means front-line workers (i.e., ones closest to customers) are working on priorities that may or may not have resonance to the actual organizational priorities…

Hence, when workers priorities are unclear and constantly shifting, engagement begins to drop, and negativity in the workplace begins to rise… It varies by company and industry but this can be a major root cause of negativity in the workplace… Overcoming negative thinking in the workplace revolves around three basic workers’ issues:

  • Empower Workers: Empower workers to be creative in work assignments– let them have ownership over their work– don’t micromanage every aspect of their work. Let them show their skill sets– and if they mess-up or do something off-brand or not customer-aligned, then course correct with them…
  • Recognize Workers: One sure-fire way to establish negativity in the workplace is when workers do not feel rewarded… Most studies indicate workers leave– their managers, not their jobs. Hence, honor workers’ accomplishment and recognize their achievements…
  • Respect Workers: Trust and respect workers… yes, they won’t always be perfect and when they’re off-base then course correct with them… More trust, more empowerment, more respect, more recognition– begets less negative thinking in the workplace…

In the article Dealing With Negative Workers by Jacqueline Whitmore writes: Most everyone has  encountered workers who stay in an organization for years, all the while complaining on a daily basis about– the boss, the organization, colleagues, customers… it’s tiring just thinking about it… However, it’s important to remember that complaints, much as we may not want to hear them, often unearth legitimate issues…

The danger is falling into the trap of responding to a complaint with another complaint– competing complaints– its one-upmanship of the worst kind. Perhaps you work with people who complain endlessly but never offers solutions. These negative people create destructive energy and drama, and if you are not careful, they can pull you into their chaos; disrupting your focus, side-lining your goals, tarnishing your reputation. According to Susan M. Heathfield; the way you deal with negative people is by spending as little time with them as possible.

Set limits with coworkers whose negativity you believe is baseless or unwarranted… The reason or cause of their long-term negativity are not your concern… Every negative worker has a story, but you cannot get sucked-in by listening to grievances that cause their negativity– don’t reinforce negativity by giving it legitimacy; negativity is a choice. Negativity mongers need to do something different– a new job, a new company, a new career, a new outlook, or counseling…

In the article Why Negativity is a Good Thing by Alexia writes: The psychological world is wrong: Negative thinking is a good thing in many organizations. Too much time is spent trying to think positive about everything… blocking negative thoughts, chanting positive affirmations and focus on images that make you feel good… It’s the blind belief that only positive thoughts are good thoughts… But negativity is a good thing, too. Without negative thoughts good things never happen…

Negativity is what makes you question what you are doing, and without it you will never see the potential pitfalls in what you are doing… Few organizations appreciate the potential in negativity. They attempt to manage negative thinking out of the workplace, and insist that only positive thinking is allowed. Managers should surround themselves with people who ask questions, people who doubt, people who say ‘this will never work’, even when it appears to be working…

Every organization must have a balance of people– positive thinkers and naysayers… people who question decisions, question the processes, question the results, question how the results were obtained… At times it can be very painful but you must listen to all legitimate points of views. The days of believing that everyone in the workplace– manager, worker… will blindly follow every decision is naive, at best: Perhaps it’s time to be more positive about negativity…