Did you ever see a virus spread through a community? Someone sneezes and before you know it tons of people are in bed coughing and moaning.

Negativity at work is like a virus.

It spreads with bullet like speed and before you know it there are people who you just know are really healthy calling in sick. Others are moping around waiting for the first appropriate time to grab their belongings and head for the door. While still others are in small groups whispering about what a crappy place this is to work.

Rather than point fingers of blame which, while it relieves the immediate stress but has no lasting effect, consider the following areas that, if changed, can move your work culture to the positive end of the scale:

  • Roles and Rules: When the rules of the workplace change like the weather and there is no consistency for role identification there is confusion and chronic chaos. No more "It's not my job" whining and bickering. Everyone, from childhood on needs some guidelines on how to play the game or there is no accountability and only frustration.
  • Boundaries: There is a balance point between rigid and lax and that is the sweet spot where work can get done. If you, as a manager or boss are too willing to listen to the gossip and tale telling, you create a toxic setting for the weakest employees to have the strongest positions. He said, she said, they said is a deadly and time wasting game.
  • Problems and Patterns: Look, there will always be problems to solve at work. That is part of the creativity and challenge that keeps the day from being boring and monotonous. However, when the same problem keeps repeating over and over, you have a pattern and that it where a deep dive into how the system operates is required and changes need to be made.
  • Addiction to overdoing: There is never enough time. There will always be more that has to be done than hours in the day. Skipping breaks and lunch and those moments to just have a good laugh are draining. That is when irritability shows up and work mistakes explode.
  • Communicating on Purpose: Make sure to be inclusive rather than exclusive. When individuals are left out of the loop they feel marginalized and discounted. That is when the anger and sulking show up. Even the most brilliant person will storm out of a meeting when their best ideas are ignored and they do not feel appreciated for their contributions.

In all the years I have been consulting with large and medium sized companies around the globe, I have seen that the two most vital parts of creating a positive workplace culture, always underline that others are heard and acknowledged.

Rather than beat yourself up or blame others, begin to implement all of these areas, not just one or two, but the whole enchilada, and you will see smiling rather than frowning faces more of the time. Don't beat yourself up or blame others, just change the system.

You know what they say, if a fish in a fish bowl gets sick, first thing to do is change the water!

Published on: Aug 25, 2015