Part of a manager’s job is to deal with interpersonal factors that contribute to a functional team environment. One common problem that can have a major impact on team performance is a negative employee. A negative employee can infect an entire team and kill morale faster than you could imagine. That’s why it’s important to get a handle on employee negativity before it creates a toxic work environment. Here are a few techniques for managing even your most negative employee so they don’t drag your entire team down.
Find Out Why
If you sense negativity from one of your employees, it’s time to do your homework and find out why. You need to learn more about their professional and personal situation to see if there are any outside factors that might be contributing to their negativity. Is this person experiencing health problems? Are they caring for a sick family member? Are they dealing with a death or divorce? Are they overwhelmed with too much at work? All of these factors can cause an employee to act more negative than usual. Before jumping to conclusions, you need to find out if the behavior is new or if it has been present all along.
Spend One-On-One Time with the Employee
Sometimes, simply spending time with the employee and taking a genuine interest in their performance can make a big difference. In addition to building a better rapport with the employee, this individual time allows the manager to better understand the employee and address any problems or issues they might be facing.
Create Positive Interactions
A great way to combat negativity is through kindness and praise. Look for small wins and acknowledge when the employee has done something well. Make sure they know you value and appreciate their efforts. Likewise, any time you hear them make a positive statement, reinforce that attitude as much as possible. Help the employee build a positive self-image by talking with them about what they have done well and how their coworkers appreciate their performance.
Make sure you are not contributing to the problem by showing your frustration with the negative employee. Rather, set a good example by showing praise, offering encouragement, and creating solutions to problems in the workplace. You can set the tone for a positive environment by providing coffee and donuts sometime or catering lunch as a team building experience. Even something as simple as a smile can go a long way in creating a positive work environment. If you model positivity, your employees are likely to follow suit.
Provide Constructive Feedback
There are times when the negativity needs to be addressed and you can’t let it go unchecked. It’s important to provide the employee with specific examples of their negative behavior and explain how it is affecting the rest of the team. Provide constructive feedback so they can truly understand the impact of their behavior and what changes need to be made. Be prepared to offer suggestions for how they can improve as well as any consequences for not improving.