We’ve all heard the phrase, “it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch,” and while much of the time this can ring true in an office environment, it really doesn’t have to.
If you have someone in your office that you feel has a “negative” attitude toward work, this is a huge red flag for you as a leader to look around and make sure that all of your employees are satisfied with their positions and the work environment. Chances are, the negativity or frustration is affecting more than one person. This is where relationship building comes in and the importance of actually getting to know your employees. Not just their names, but actually who they are.
Let me give you an example. Many moons ago I worked as a retail manager. While in this position I was transferred to a new store, a store that already had their own culture and employees who were used to a certain management style. Let’s just say that the change in management did not go over well with employees, because after all, adding someone new into the mix, especially a newly promoted manager, can be a hard thing to adjust to. Instead of letting the defiant attitudes get me down, what did I do? I got to know my employees. I learned about who they were, what they liked to do for fun outside of work, and most importantly what their aspirations were for their careers. I listened.
What I learned from all of that is that, like customers, frustrated employees simply want to be heard. They want to build that rapport with their managers so that they can go to them with any issue they may be facing, because they then know that their manager will look out for them and get things done. So while you must listen, you also must show that you follow through with your promises. Never make promises you can’t keep. This is what makes a good leader.
So here’s a list of some suggestions for how to become a better leader and cut out office negativity:
- Get to know your employees and build a lasting rapport with them.
- Listen to them. This is where that open door policy that everyone talks about comes in.
- Show them that you are a doer not a don’ter, because the minute you promise something to an employee and don’t follow through, you lose their trust.
- Finally, ensure that you are treating your employees as well as you treat your customers.
In my opinion, dedicating yourself to these steps will help to cut out any negativity that may invade the workplace. Treating your employees as well, if not better, than how you treat your customers will give them the motivation to succeed, contributing positively the organization’s goals.
That’s just my two cents. What are your thoughts?
It’s a bit of a joke around SGR, but there’s a touch of truth in it, too. The running joke is when one of us says, “How many times have I told you that ‘I am a Team Player!’” The touch of truth behind it is our theory that the more someone tells you that “I am a Team Player!” the less likely it is that they really are a team player. Team players care too much about the team to constantly be talking about themselves. The truth is that if you’re a team player, you don’t have to always go around saying it. It will show. People will know.
Along those lines, I’ve developed another theory: “The more someone tells you that they want help, the less likely it is that they will listen to the help that you offer.” I can think of several situations recently where l found myself listening to a leader pour out his complaints, punctuated by seemingly earnest pleas for help. However, it became obvious that they didn’t want, and perhaps didn’t need, any help beyond being listened to.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with needing to be heard. We all (and by all I mean ALL) need for others to listen to us. No exceptions. Therefore, one of the real gifts we can offer to people is merely the gift of listening without criticism or solutions. As a leader in your organization, you could probably make a much larger impact than you realize by listening empathetically to your team. Try it.
Related to that, it’s an indication that you need more emotional intelligence if you too quickly rush in with solutions, opinions, and suggestions when what the person really wants and needs is just for you to listen. I’ve made that mistake more times than I care to admit. People don’t usually appreciate unsolicited advice.
But what does it mean when a person repeatedly asks for help, yet objects to every solution?
It might mean that they already know what they need to do, but they just don’t want to do it. Hence the theory, “The more they ask you for help, the less likely it is that they will take your advice.” Because it’s actually not an answer they need. It’s the courage to act on the answer they already know.
So, time to look in the mirror, my friend. What’s the issue that you keep asking someone to help you with, while at the same time rejecting every solution as unacceptable? Could it be that what you need is not the answer, but rather the courage to act on the answer that you already know?
Here’s a challenge: If you want to be the kind of leader whose organization is a 16 percenter…stop asking for someone to give you an answer that you already know. Great leaders have the courage to act!