10 Ways to Overcome Negativity at Work

Jane confided, “I feel like an enthusiastic puppy with all kinds of ideas and possibilities, but when I go to share them, there’s always someone who stomps on my tail.” John chimed in, “I know exactly what she means, everyone around here is just so negative. I’m beginning to wonder why I bother.” Perhaps you’ve felt that way too. It can be tough to stay motivated in a negative workplace.

“Just think of any negativity that comes at you as a raindrop falling in the ocean of your bliss.” -Maharishi Mahesh Yogi

10 Ways to Overcome Negativity at Work

  1. Make a list of what you like most about your job. Share it with others. Ask them what they like most about their jobs.
  2. Ask people why they work. In a negative environment, the answer may seem obvious—“For the paycheck, stupid”—but take it a step further. Do they work to support their sick mom? To pay back student loans? To save for their children’s education? Because they enjoy helping customers? Reconnecting to the purpose of work can help make the smaller annoyances less frustrating.
  3. Call out negativity. When you see negative thinking or actions, talk to the person privately to call it out, particularly if other leaders are involved. When negative attitudes and talk are all around, it’s tempting to ignore it. Raise the bar and change the conversation.
  4. Rise above the drama. Refuse to get sucked into the rumors and gossip. Respond to your team’s concerns with transparency and candor. Be the one who people know they can trust for a straight answer.
  5. Find kindred spirits. Not everyone is negative, although it can feel that way at times. Look around and find other folks trying to change the scene for the better. There is strength in numbers. Look outside your organization as well.
  6. Create an “envelope of excellence” or cultural oasis. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed trying to fix the overall culture. Start with your own team and do what you can to make it feel better to come to work.
  7. Find reasons to celebrate. With all the negativity, it’s easy to overlook the good. Go out of your way to recognize and celebrate small wins. Substitute weak phrases like “No problem” with more enthusiastic words like “I’d be happy to.”
  8. See barriers as a challenge. Encourage your team to embrace the problems they see as opportunities and challenges to learn and grow. Recap learning along the way to help them feel a sense of positive momentum even during the most challenging times.
  9. Laugh more. I had one colleague who would respond to the company’s most ridiculous political nonsense by reminding the team, “It’s all comedy.” Step back and recognize how ridiculous some behavior is. You’ll create a healthy distance from which to respond more appropriately.
  10. Hold deeper developmental conversations. In periods of uncertainty, people yearn for a sense of control and connection. Take your developmental conversations to the next level. Ask your team and your peers about their hopes and dreams, what motivates them, and what scares them. Show up as a real human being caring about other real human beings.

Don’t let the naysayers win. Be the positive spark that ignites possibilities in others.

Winning Well Pre-Order Bonus

Winning Well-3DFor every copy of Winning Well that you pre-order, David Dye and I will send you a free custom-signed bookplate with your requested message.

Simply order Winning Well from your favorite bookstore (eg Amazon) or CEO Reads for bulk orders, then go to www.WinningWellBook.com. Click on THE BOOK, then on CUSTOMIZE YOUR BOOK, and submit your message in the form. When the book ships, we’ll send you a custom, hand-signed, adhesive bookplate that you can put inside the front cover.

Even better, there is no limit to the number of bookplates you may get. Get an affordable, customized resource for yourself and for all the managers in your life!

 

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Copyright: alphaspirit / 123RF Stock Photo

Frontline Festival February 2016: Building Productive Workplace Relationships

Welcome back to the Let’s Grow Leaders Frontline Festival. This month’s festival is all about building productive workplace relationships.  Thanks to Joy and Tom Guthrie of Vizwerx Group for the great pic and to all our contributors! Next month, we turn our focus to fresh perspectives for leaders. Give us your best fresh insight! Submissions due March 11th– new participants always welcome, please use this form.

Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.
~ Stephen Covey

Mary Jo Asmus of Aspire Collaborative Services gives a unique approach to consider in setting relationship goals for the yearFollow Mary Jo.

Chantal Bechervaise of Take It Personel-ly  reminds us that when there’s a lack of morale, everyone becomes less productive and are not as good at communicating with each other as they need to be. Team work and collaboration suffers. This post provides tips to help improve morale and relationships in the workplaceFollow Chantal.

Beth Beutler of H.O.P.E. Unlimited knows that criticism can sting. But criticism can also be a blessing in relationships.  Follow Beth.

According to Wally Bock of Three Star Leadership, great bosses come in all shapes and sizes. They work in a variety of industries. But they all make time to touch base a lot and when they do, they make every encounter count toward building relationships. Follow Wally.

We can improve our relationships with others by leaps and bounds if we become encouragers instead of critics.
~ Joyce Meyer

Michelle Cubas, CPCC, ACC, of Positive Potentials, LLC shares that coaching business leaders and entrepreneurs provides her with a helicopter view of how individual styles affect the “weather” in companies and organizations. There is not a formula to build productive workplace relationships–there are components.  Follow Michelle.

David Dye of Trailblaze reminds us that building your influence and leadership credibility can seem overwhelming and often drive you to counter-productive behavior. He shares two clear and easy-to-use suggestions that will help you build your influence today. Follow David.

According to Julie Winkle Giulioni of DesignArounds, effective leaders leverage the very human need for mutual respect and in the process build productive relationships, enhance employee engagement and deliver powerful business outcomes. Follow Julie.

John Hunter of Curious Cat Management Improvement suggests we figure out where the system isn’t optimized for the abilities of the people and address that by changing the system to take advantage of everyone’s capabilities while limiting the impact of their weaknesses. An important part of that is assuring that interrelationships within the organization are contributing to the organization success (and not detracting from it, which can happen as cultures become toxic). Follow John.

Personal relationships are always the key to good business. You can buy networking; you can’t buy friendships.
~ Lindsay Fox

In the post, Why the mean person you work with may not be that mean after all, Lisa Kohn of Thoughtful Leaders Blog shares that when we view others as people with the best intentions, rather than as opponents with mean motives, there is a greater chance that we will walk out with an improved relationship and better results. Follow Lisa.

Dan McCarthy of Great Leadership shares that when you learn to reframe the way you respond to mistakes, you’ll create an environment that encourages and rewards risk-taking, continuous improvement, and developmentFollow Dan.

Eileen McDargh of The Resiliency Group helps us learn why creating an environment that supports people can go a long way toward firing people up so they don’t “fire themselves out”–but stay.  Follow Eileen

Jon Mertz of Thin Difference observes that human beings are creatures that thrive on storytelling. When we share our stories we connect in the workplace and across generations.  Follow Jon.

The business of business is relationships; the business of life is human connection.
~ Robin S. Sharma

Michelle Pallas of MichellePallas.com  points out that acknowledging the information comes from my perspective…”this is what I believe to be true”…removes the pretense of certainty and opens the floor for discussion. Sincere honesty wins over rumors and back stabbing.   Follow Michelle.

John Stoker of DialogueWORKS  shares that our personal and professional relationships are responsible for our happiness and our success. Taking a moment to ask ourselves specific questions will help us become more aware of the quality and health of our relationships. Being deliberately conscious about what matters most allows us to make the choice improvement. Follow John.

Jesse Lyn Stoner of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership says that great leaders are great listeners. Research shows that most people think they’re better listeners than they really are. If you want to be a better listener, focus on developing a listening attitude. Here are five tips that will help. Follow Jesse Lyn.

Dr. Artika Tyner of the Planting People. Growing Justice Institute reminds us that diversity is the thread that weaves our organizations and communities together. The promotion of diversity and inclusion is integral to building productive workplace relationships. Follow Artika.

Communication, the human connection, is the key to personal and career success.
~ Paul J. Meyer

 

What's the Real Problem?

Have you ever had a leak, repaired it, only to find the drip, drip, drip showing up someplace else? Or have you recognized a familiar employee engagement problem, and breathed an immediate, “Oh, I’ve seen this movie before” sigh of relief and began to apply your time-tested know-how, only to realize the sequel was far different from the original?

When Sebastian was little, our dining room chandelier started leaking. It didn’t take us long to realize the drip was related to the tub on the floor above. We caulked. We tightened up the faucets. The problem seemed to stop, until one day, it didn’t, and the water dripped down right into our lasagna. This time, the water all over the bathroom floor gave it away. Our leaky lighting was a result of over zealous bath-time fun. A quick conversation on bathing etiquette, and we never had the problem again.

So the other day when the recessed lighting in my new home office started to weep, I knew just what to do. “Sebastian, stop it!” “But Mom…. “of course he was right. As it turns out, the builders had missed an important piping connection.

Getting to the Root Cause of the Problem

What people bring to you is likely a symptom of the problem, not the problem itself. Pause. Get curious. Ask questions. Get the relevant facts. Here are three specific questions you can ask to help identify the real problem and not waste valuable time addressing symptoms:

1. What is different from what you expected?
In The Rational Manager, Charles Kepner and Benjamin Trego identify a problem as “a deviation from some standard of performance.” Simply put, what didn’t go the way you expected?

2. What has not changed?
This is a critical step that most managers skip altogether. When you identify a problem, it is helpful to know what has not changed. This helps eliminate issues that needn’t concern you.

3. Have I faced a similar issue before?

What’s the same? What’s different about this scene?

4. Why? Why? Why?
Once you’ve limited the problem to what it is and what it is not, look for causes by asking, “Why?” You will often have to ask several times.

You can waste incredible amounts of time in vain attempts to solve the wrong problem. Managers who win well don’t leap in with solutions right away. When they are presented with a problem, they pause, ask questions, and work to identify the real issue.

Winning Well Pre-Order Bonus

Winning Well-3DFor every copy of Winning Well that you pre-order, David Dye and I will send you a free custom-signed bookplate with your requested message.

Simply order Winning Well from your favorite bookstore (eg Amazon) or CEO Reads for bulk orders, then go to www.WinningWellBook.com. Click on THE BOOK, then on CUSTOMIZE YOUR BOOK, and submit your message in the form. When the book ships, we’ll send you a custom, hand-signed,adhesive bookplate that you can put inside the front cover.

Even better, there is no limit to the number of bookplates you may get. Get an affordable, customized resource for yourself and for all the managers in your life!

5 Secrets To Effective Decision Making

“Laura,” a senior exec working to build leadership throughout her team, looked up from her salad and confided.

“Karin, the truth is I have so many things going on in any given day, I may not remember the exact decision I made if it was a trivial matter, and I may not even remember exactly what I said about something important. But what I DO KNOW is what I WOULD HAVE SAID in any given circumstance. My values guide my decision-making, so the answer would always be the same.

If someone tries to twist my words, I just think “Is that something I could have possibly said?” If the answer is no, I move on. At the end of the day, if you are leading consistently, you really don’t have to remember that much.”

Exactly.

5 Secrets to Effective Decision Making

Winning Well managers know that like everything else that matters, decision-making is always an AND game of Confidence AND Humility, Results AND relationships. Winning Well leaders know that making the right decisions is clearly only the beginning, it’s also about building decision making competency throughout your team.

1. Be Crystal Clear on Your Values.

Taking some time to really consider your values and operating principles will save a lot of time-consuming waffling and hand wringing down the line. Write down your leadership credo, that way when the decisions get tough, you’ve got the scaffolding already in place.

2. Insist that people on your team make decisions they should make.

You use energy to make decisions. The more decisions you make in a day, the more difficult it becomes to make the next one. Stop making decisions you don’t need to make, and invest in helping your team build their decision making muscles. Ask great strategic questions. Be sure your team understands your values and any big rules. Most importantly, if you empower them to make the decision, don’t freak out when they make the wrong one. Take a deep breath and then work to understand the thought process, so the next decision they make will be less wacky.

3. Make low-risk decisions quickly.

If the consequences are minimal, make decisions quickly and move on. Save your 3 am worry for decisions that matter.

4. Make decisions once

This is an old and essential productivity tool. Look at an email once, then either delete it, act on it, schedule it for future action, put it in a file related to its project, or put it in a “maybe read later.”

5. Include the right players.

Before making any major decision ask yourself, “Who really needs to be involved in this and why?” Stakeholder, yes, but resist the urge to over-include.

Of course, you can follow these guidelines and still screw it up. Sometimes I do too. When that happens, don’t obsess, but do take a moment to reflect and take that learning with you for the next time.

How to Not Screw Up Your Career– #WinningWell in Fast Company

You’re working hard to build a good reputation as a manager. So you’re taking on new projects and delegating certain tasks to others. You think you’re getting the hang of it, but then you make a remark that seems to rub someone the wrong way—and you aren’t sure why.

Being decisive and knowing how to say no are important leadership skills, but handled the wrong way, they can come off as excuses that can damage your career. Managers need to lead with confidence, humility, and a long-term focus on building relationships. That means being vigilant about avoiding these statements or anything that sounds like them. Read more at Fast Company

WINNING WELL UPDATE

Our new Winning Well landing page is here, including the opportunity to download a few chapters for free, and to Winning Well-3Dorder customized, autographed bookplates as a thank you for pre-orders. Click here to see more. Also please know that CEO Reads is offering a nice discount for quantity orders.

I’m working on my Spring Winning Well Speaking tour. Please contact me if you would be interested in a keynote, workshop, or virtual training.

 

really bad boss

An Anatomy of the "User" Manager

If you only care about next week’s results, bring in a User Manager. He’ll get it done. But watch out for the aftermath. You know the type–the kind of manager who works to win at all costs. The guy who’s “all business” or the woman who’s “got no time for that crap (meaning connection and understanding).” They’ve got their teams spinning, scared to under-perform. Although there’s lots of work being done, stress and fear squelch creativity and conversation. The sad truth is, a “User” mentality can often improve results in the short term, but is no way to add lasting value.

An Anatomy of a User Manager

In our Winning Well model, David and I call folks like this “Users” because they tend to see people as objects to be used in order to get results.

VALUES:

User managers value confidence above humility. They prioritize results above relationships.

FOCUS:

User managers focus on short-term results. They emphasize getting things done today and will worry about tomorrow when it gets here.

BEHAVIORS:

User managers tend to treat people as objects—the people are there to achieve results and that is their only value. These managers push hard for results and try to compel productivity through fear, power, and control. At the extreme they say things like, “If you don’t like it, leave” and, “Why should I say thank you? It’s their job.” They do not offer relevant encouragement and are inconsistent with accountability, often becoming reactionary and explosive when frustrated with poor results. Their meetings are often one-way information dumps with requests for input met with silence. Meetings also end in silence, which the manager mistakes for agreement.

OUTCOMES:

People—User managers create work environments that resemble sweatshops. They do achieve results, but at a high cost. Their employees do the least possible to avoid punishment. People leave as soon as they can afford to. Employees don’t solve problems or take initiative; they are happy to leave those tasks to their manager.
Manager—Since they get things done through fear, power, and control they have to spend a tremendous amount of energy policing their workers, forcing people to work, and replacing employees who leave. They often feel out of control (since they can’t possibly control everything or everyone.) Frequently, these managers are frustrated, bitter, stressed, and suffer from poor physical and emotional health.

If you recognize these symptoms in yourself or others, we’ve got really practical tools and techniques to help you win well in the long run. Learn more here. http://winningwellbook.com