Business information written specifically for newspaper advertising departments

Boosting Morale By Fighting Negativity in the Workplace

Who better would understand the way the team functions and what needs to happen to improve the status quo?

In the spirit of our active lifestyle demographic, we want to focus on the importance of not only physical health, but mental health as well. Since most U.S. workers spend at least 40 hours at work every week, both physical and mental health play a large role in office life and well-being. Therefore, it’s crucial that, as manager, you stay vigilant in regards to bad attitudes and daily work frustrations within the office. What may seem like a small office conflict or one bad day could potentially reach a boiling point, and consequently have a negative impact on the mental health of you and your employees. Make sure you build an office environment that supports your staff and aids their happiness, and if problems do arise — and they are bound to — make sure you offer constructive outlets for employees to vent frustrations and resolve issues. If you ignore building negativity in your department, it will directly contribute to the dissatisfaction of your employees, and subsequently, their work performances. The implication of this is that office negativity impacts the work being done in your ad department and is actually preventing it from reaching its potential. Simply put, unhappy employees likely means you have some unhappy clients, and as a manager, you know that cannot stand.

The key in warding off negativity in the office is making a distinction between what is a poor attitude and a disagreement between work styles and ideas. If you criticize an employee for a bad attitude, because they disagree with you, then you’re only going to build up resentment amongst your staff. You don’t want to make your employees feel like they can’t approach you when they have an issue, and you don’t want to create an environment where creativity and ideas aren’t valued. A “my way or the highway” attitude is a surefire way to limit innovation and progress. Therefore, the key is to create an office environment that allows for an open, constructive and on-going dialogue amongst the staff and places value on all employees and their ideas, happiness  and mental and physical health. We break down some key components to creating this balance below.

Create an Open Door Policy

The first step in preventing office negativity is to make sure that, as the manager, you have constructed an environment in which your staff feels comfortable approaching you, not only when they have a work suggestion or question, but when they’re facing internal issues and conflicts in the workplace as well. Make it clear that these conversations are kept confidential unless you let them know otherwise, because if an employee is having a problem with another staff member, they may be wary of coming to you in fear that the information will trickle down the grapevine and eventually reach the person in question.

Beyond resolving office conflicts, ensure your management style allows for a diversity of opinions and ideas. If you send the message that the right way is your way, then you’re stifling the potential of your office. Never tell your employees their ideas are wrong or suggestion is wrong. Instead, sit down and have a constructive conversation about these ideas, logically weighing why they would or would not work. This will make your workplace feel collaborative rather than one-sided, and ultimately make your employees feel like a valued part of a team and prevent resentment and negativity.

Confront Issues Head On

If you notice that something is adrift in the office, don’t let it go ignored, because it will build up and become an even bigger problem in the future. Instead, hold a one-on-one meeting with the person or people involved and ask questions about their satisfaction or workload to determine what may be bothering them. As previously mentioned, determine if this is an attitude problem, a conflict with another employee or perhaps a management issue. Allow for self-reflection, because if you are continually blaming your employees, you will not be able to grow as a manager and your department won’t be able to grow as a business either.

Always have the conversations individually rather than an groups, because group settings lend themselves to heated confrontations and you want your employees to feel safe and assured when discussing issues with you. Furthermore, you should consult with every employee that is involved in the issue, because you don’t want to develop a one-sided opinion or view of the situation, because chances are that’s not the bigger picture. As a people, we are prone to seeing situations from our limited perspective, that’s just human nature, not necessarily a personal vendetta. Try to remain as objective as possible in order to appropriately assess and respond to any given situation.

Value Your Team’s Opinion

It’s already important to value the opinions of your employees when it comes to the work at hand. Diversified opinions and ideas allow for more innovation, progress and ultimately, success. Your approach to resolving conflict and negativity within the office shouldn’t be any different. When you’re having those one-on-one meetings with dissatisfied employees, after you find out what is bothering them, ask them what they think needs to be done to resolve the issue rather than going ahead on your own and making those changes without consulting the people involved. Firstly, you will gain insight from the person who is firsthand involved in the issue. Secondly, you demonstrate that you are invested and are taking the conflict seriously. And lastly, you once again show that you value their opinion and place value on them as an employee.

Moreover, they are a functioning member of the team: Who better would understand the way the team functions and what needs to happen to improve the status quo? Take that information, take it seriously and take action. Outline a real-time plan and method to reconstructing the office in a way that would avoid future conflict and allow for increased employee happiness and satisfaction.

Employee Happiness Check-Ups

Once you have shared your plan of action with the entire team, check up with them to see how it’s progressing. Ask employees if they are happier with the way things are working or if more needs to be done. Again, this will demonstrate that you that you care for their happiness and satisfaction in their work and are making an effort to guarantee it. Moreover, these “check ups” will help prevent future unhappiness or negativity in the office, because you will, hopefully, catch negativity before it has a chance to build. If you are serious about facing office negativity head on, then you have to commit to a long-term, on-going solution such as this. A one-time meeting won’t resolve it, because conflict is ultimately unavoidable and needs to be continually treated.