It’s a rare workplace environment that hasn’t experienced the corrosive effects of chronic negativity. Like a bad mood, negative behavior can spread among departments, even wide spread enough to infect company divisions or regions. It can be practiced by one individual or groups of individuals wanting to belong to something bigger than themselves. In the search for professional kinship, groups will take issues and brew them until they are as scorched as bad coffee. Consequently, we coined a term for them, the Brew Crew. Unfortunately, the something ‘bigger’ becomes the shame & blame game or simply gossip-mongering honoring no one. Persistent negativity can be the result of poor management, inadequate shift staffing, lack of employee training, individual health problems, or symptoms of the bully & manipulator personality types.
Let’s look at two sources of employee negativity and how they come about in work organizations. The first is socio-situational negativity and is caused by personal stressors. These employees find themselves caught in stressful circumstances such as, pending divorces, child or elder care demands, financial scarcity; and, possibly the greater demands of job promotion. The second is iatro-genic negativity. Employees in this second category demonstrate a coping response to frustration, helplessness, and the lack of compensation for their efforts. This poor adaptive response is a direct result of oppressive, unrealistic working demands, and blame & punishment based management methods.
If you think you might be becoming part of a brew crew, ask yourself:
- Are you taking the conversational ‘bait’ to become involved in malicious gossip such as, ‘Have you heard that….’?
- Are you becoming defensive over public attacks on your job performance or individual character? And, how can you stop these attacks without causing animosity, a private conversation with a colleague? Remember that many bullies enjoy having an audience.
- If your company has downsized, how can you engage management to discuss job security, career pathing, and the rebuilding of trust with the remaining employees?
- How can you set the expectations with your staff or colleagues that negativity is inconsistent with the values of the company? How can you challenge their negative behavior without being confrontational and overbearing?
- What self-governing departmental responses can you put in place to counter negative responses such as, “I know you may need to talk about this event; but, we need to discuss the situation in a positive and problem solving context.”
- If a colleague is the crusader with unrealistic solutions, how can you help them look at the disruptiveness of their behavior without just moving the blame? What conversation can you have with them to promote healthy problem solving, not just continuing the complaining?
- If employee recognition needs a boost, what recognition system can you and management create that rewards the outcomes that your people create for your business