Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Workplace Negativity - Chances are it's all about you

I have been working with a very frustrated Entry Level Manager over recent weeks.

His negativity and disengagement reached new levels a week or so ago.

My questioning resulted in him expressing a lack of faith in what was happening and that it is all just getting more difficult.

At one point, I had to convince him that no one is sitting around the executive table thinking up ways to make life more difficult and there is always a very good reason for decisions that are taken.

He was not convinced I was telling the truth because he feels his Leaders are all about making his business life and that of those he supervisors more difficult.

He even suggested there was a conspiracy to drive them out of the business.

I took up his suggestion to look at employee reviews on a website called Glassdoor.com and they were certainly less than positive. 

At the start of our next session, he asked if I had read the reviews and when I said I had, he referenced these as affirmation of how he feels.

I suggested there was primarily one area of the business being referenced in the negative. He agreed.

I asked about his daily dealings with this area and the daily impact on his team. He admitted the interaction with the area is close to Nil. On further questioning, he admitted that when he does deal with this area, it all goes well.

With that out of the way, we went on to talk about some actions he can take to address his frustration. 

These included seeking to better understand why decisions are being made, taking responsibility for addressing communication shortfalls between him and his Leader and seeking feedback as to areas he can improve.

Several things stood out from these interactions:

1.      If we are not careful, we can allow the negative sentiment to impact us in a negative way even when there is little or no basis for it at all. This starts a downward negative spiral and in this case, it was being transferred from a Leader down to their team.
2.      We always have responsibility for our own mindset and attitude. We can select our thoughts and how we react to situations and events. 
3.     Seek feedback from peers, team members and other leaders, however, also provide feedback to your leader, thoughtfully and respectfully.
4.     Seek to understand why decisions are being made. There will be a sound reason and a linked strategy.

We have choices, we always have choices. 

We can choose to drown in a sea of negativity or to accept responsibility for our own attitude.

Ultimately, we may not like a decision or initiative, but it makes a huge difference if we understand the basis for them.

And how are things now with the person I am working with?

He has decided to become the “negativity wall” and turn it back rather than perpetuating it and passing it along.

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