Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Managing Negativity

A constant naysayer on your team can be frustrating and draining for everyone. Leila gives three tips—checking your own behavior, being specific with examples, and discussing the impact on other people—to get this pessimistic person to commit to changing their own behavior. Watch the video below; a transcript of the video is also provided for your perusal.

Have you ever managed a really negative person? The naysayer, the employee who shoots down every idea, the one who pushes back on everything asked of her? This kind of behavior is more than annoying; it's obstructive and draining. Come on managers, let's learn how to manage employee negativity.

Some people posses an innate pessimism. Their tendency is to question and criticize rather than adopting a can do attitude.

If this sounds familiar, here's how to create shift in behavior.

#1: Look in the mirror.

You first need to evaluate your own conduct. If you decide that a team member is too negative at work, always saying no through her words and mannerisms, take a look at the environment she's operating in. Are you exhibiting some of the same uncooperative behaviors? Do you only provide constructive criticism rather than balancing it with praise? If you're not guilty of being a poor role model, have you have been enabling her behavior simply because you are ignoring it?

#2: Gather data and be specific with the employee.

You'll need several examples, over a period of time, to provide to the employee. Your illustrations need to speak to a pattern. To convince someone that change is necessary, you must build a case and speak to why her actions and body language aren't appropriate. You may also wish to solicit feedback from peers and customers.

#3: Talk about the impact.

When meeting with this employee, focus on the impact her behavior has on other people in the business. Describe what happens when she sighs heavily during meetings. How do others react when she says, No, that's not possible. It's just not going to happen to every request? When giving feedback, say something like, Leslie, I've observed that during brainstorming meetings, you roll your eyes and shake your head when someone brings up a new idea. Most people, when they see that, stop talking. It cuts them off. The purpose of brainstorming is just the opposite.

After coaching an employee, giving examples, and allowing for discussion, it's time to ask for a commitment. It's key to express to the employee that you need buy in. The business, the team, and customers need it. You're not asking her to change who she is. Instead you're asking her to adapt how she interacts with others in the workplace-in order to help everyone succeed.

Speaker: Leila Bulling-Towne, Executive Coach, The Bulling-Towne Group

Source: BNET Video

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