Share this content

Motivating the negative employee in your team

8th Nov 2014
Share this content

Have you ever worked with a negative employee? Well, for those that are in the happy circumstance of not having to put up with a negative colleague, let me tell you what it’s like.

When you have a negative employee on your team you just feel constantly drained. Nothing is ever good enough for this person, you just can’t please them, something is always wrong and someone else is always to blame.

Like I said, all that negative energy is draining. Not just for me, but for the rest of the team too. As a result motivation and productivity from the whole team suffer.

The survey said

A recent survey by Fierce Inc. has highlighted how these negative employees can wreak havoc on an organisation. Nearly 4 in 5 (78 percent) of respondents to the survey said that a negative attitude was “extremely debilitating” to team morale. In fact, employee negativity trumped gossiping, laziness, and passive-aggressiveness as the most detrimental trait a co-worker could have. And it doesn’t seem to matter what role that negative employee has, because 55 percent felt that a negative supervisor, peer, and employee are all equally detrimental to the morale of an organization.

The survey on Toxic Employees also found that negative employees also had the following impacts on the working environment:

  • Decreased morale –48 percent of survey respondents
  • Decrease in productivity –27 percent of survey respondents
  • Increase in stress – 17 percent of survey respondents
  • Increased distractions – 8 percent of survey respondents

Because negativity can spread like wildfire throughout the team it’s important to deal with it as soon as possible.

How do you motivate a negative employee?

In order to deal with your employee’s poor attitude you need to understand the causes and commit to creating a positive working environment for all your employees. Here’s how:

1. Talk to your negative employee

Choose a calm, private setting, and discuss the situation face to face. Set aside plenty of time, so you’re not clock watching, and you can give your employee your full attention. Ask them how they feel about their job security, tasks, relationships and working environment, so you can determine the cause of the negativity.

2. Ask for their suggestions

Ask the employee for their suggestions about how to improve negative attitudes in the business, to encourage them to buy-in and own the process.

3. Reinforce positive behaviour

With the employee, work out goals for change, andemphasise the need to be more positive, rather than finding the negative in every situation. Ask them how they would feel, how the working environment would be improved, if everyone were more positive. Acknowledge that everyone will have an off-day once in a while, but this shouldn’t be a permanent situation. And ensure managers always demonstrate positive behaviour.

4. Follow up

Schedule a meeting to follow up on the changes you’ve discussed and agreed with your employees.

5. Invest in positivity

Improve the working environment, by introducing programmes and activities such as employee recognition and appreciation schemes; employee-wellness programmes; or fun games linked to improved behaviours, or productivity, such as a lucky dip when a target is achieved.

We can all have an off-day, but on-going negativity from a team member can quickly turn into problems for the whole team. so when you come across on-going negativity address it quickly and promote positivity.


Related content

Replies (1)

Please login or register to join the discussion.

By Mr_Lizard
16th Dec 2014 12:26

And then trying to turn that frown upside-down just isn't going to work.

Maybe the manager is an idiot, the systems are 20 years out-of-date, and the customer service attitude in the organisation came out of the Ark.

Maybe that one negative person is telling you the truth, and everyone around you who's projecting the company-approved positive atmosphere and attitude are lying their faces off, because they want to be seen to be doing the Right Thing.

Further problems are sure to arise if you set aside time to listen to the negative person, and then don't ever do anything about what they've told you.  This is doubly true if what they've told you needs fixing is going to cost serious money.  Because now you've not just got a negative employee, you've got a negative employe who knows it doesn't matter what he says because you're not going to act on it.  And you thought they had a bad attitude beforehand...

I can usually tell if someone's being negative because they have a genuine point, or if they're being negative just because grumbling is cheap entertainment.  Ask them how they'd fix it.  They've usually put a good deal of creative thought into this, and if you can tap into it, it can be extremely worthwhile.  Ask them for the solution - if they don't have one, or if they're just expecting you to fix everything for them, then they're just running their noisemaker, and you can tell them so.

A solid rule of "If you don't have a solution, I don't want to hear about the problem" can head off a lot of negativity before it gets any traction at all.


Thanks (0)