Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Business owners and managers,  it is important that when you are at work you "shine you eyes" to what is happening around you. You need to keep your fingers on the heartbeat of your company to know what is happening all the time.  For example, has the office become too quiet? are people constantly complaining or suddenly going mute when you walk towards them? have people recently started resigning using flimsy excuses or sometimes just leaving and not coming back the next day? do you see that fights and disagreements have increased? what about when people leave, do you conduct exit interviews? do you find more and more people refusing to look you in your eye and not telling you anything constructive? then you may be experiencing an influx of work place negativity aka "I hate my job" (also known as oga hates us) syndrome.

Negativity is an increasing problem in the workplace, according to Gary S. Topchik, the author of Managing Workplace Negativity. He states, in a Management Review article, that negativity is often the result of a loss of confidence, control, or community. Maybe staff members feel insecure because they have friends being fired in similar jobs in other companies; or you had to lay off several people at once; or there is a manager who has become an office bully; or there could even be an employee deliberately causing trouble because he/she is angry over something and their annoyance is now affecting everything and everyone.

Whatever the cause of the workplace negativity, analysing and addressing the issue is vital. Steps you can take to improve the atmosphere within your office, or a particular unit or team include:

1. Create opportunities for people to have a say in their work and work activities. This can be in the form of employee feedback forms, one on one meetings with staff to get suggestions for how to do things better, and real honest interviews with team leads to incorporate better ways of doing work.

2. Create opportunities for people to express themselves including a protected email address or suggestion box that complaints/suggestions/issues can be sent to, have general staff meetings, and talk to people one on one to learn ( but not to gather information to use against them later.)

3. Treat workers as adults and stop making work personal. if you do not already have clear cut structures, set them up now and publicise them around the office so that people know what is acceptable and what is not.

4. Referring back to point 3, when you are creating policies and procedures, also create clear disciplinary procedures. When someone breaks a rule or is not performing up to standard, you must carry out the necessary disciplinary action. Do not instead create more rules when people misbehave, simply deal with the situation in line with your disciplinary procedure.

5. Let your staff feel like part of the "in-crowd". When you have information, let everyone know at the same time via a uniform medium. For ex, have HR send out news as and when necessary. Make use of twitter to send office updates. Have a bulletin board. etc.

6. Afford people the opportunity to grow and learn. Make available on-site learning and training services. Send people for training online with a training calendar. And remember, when you want to set up your training calendar, along with what you need people to learn to improve at work, make room for them to learn what they are interested in.

7. Root out the bad eggs. Unfortunately no matter how good your intentions and interventions are, there may be person/people you notice seem to be working against and not for the good of the company. If you notice people consistently performing below standards, breaking office rules, and making everyone in the office uncomfortable, it may be time to reconsider their employment with your company.

In conclusion, work place negativity thrives where there is insecurity, no or under-development internal communication channels, and no opportunities for staff growth. Allowing this to go unchecked, can lead to low productivity, high staff turnover, and ultimately impact negatively on your company's internal AND external brand which can spell BIG trouble for you as a business owner or manager. However, by incorporating the steps above and translating them into systems and policies within your office, you can start turning things around and see positive changes in as little as a matter of weeks.

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