Negative energy drains morale, reduces productivity and employee motivation, and ultimately impacts a company’s bottom line in a bad way. It can pollute an otherwise productive and collegial working environment and prevent your most talented people from realizing their full potential. Clearly it’s something to be avoided, but how do you get rid of it if it’s already there?
One of the problems is that many employees feel like they’re personally powerless to change negative working environments. They see company’s culture as something that’s created and influenced at the management level. While that is true to some extent, it is also within every employee’s power to make work a more positive place to be. With that in mind, here are eight simple but effective ways to build a better working environment for everyone to enjoy.
Recognize Everyone’s Value
Feeling unappreciated is a major source of negativity. If an employee’s contributions aren’t recognized or don’t seem to matter, it won’t be long before they’re wondering why they even bother. That’s not a sentiment you want to spread.
People in management and leadership roles should always strive to regularly express gratitude for the contributions of all team members. Simply thanking people for a job well done helps build collegiality and respect. In turn, employees will take more pride in their work and strive to do a better job.
Play to People’s Strengths
As a manager or team leader, you should always be trying to put people in a position to succeed rather than fail. When delegating tasks, assign duties that play to the specific strengths of individual employees. This helps people build confidence in their abilities, and it also prevents people from feeling as though their failures and shortcomings have too high a profile.
Listen to Divergent Viewpoints
You may not always agree with other people, and you may not always want to implement alternative strategies or processes. But if you’re in a leadership or management role, you owe it to your employees to listen to their thoughts and ideas, and to take them into consideration. People feel more appreciated if they believe they have a voice that gets heard, and that has a trickle-down effect throughout the entire business.
Communication is easy when things are going well, but it’s even more important when they aren’t. Don’t avoid difficult conversations, and resist the urge to look the other way when problems arise. That only makes things harder in the long run. Instead, be open, but always try to frame criticism in a positive way and get people to use setbacks as learning tools.
Give and Get Feedback
Feedback is an important measuring stick for performance, and you should give it as well as seek it out. It’s especially important when people are trying out different strategies or executing new tasks.
When people feel like they’re groping around in the dark, not knowing whether or not they’re doing something well, they can get frustrated. Be proactive about offering your thoughts on their performance, but again, strive to frame things in a positive and constructive way.
Balance Criticism with Positivity
Of course, it’s not always possible to avoid negative criticism entirely. In any business, there will be setbacks, failures and mistakes. You’ll make them. Your employees will make them. Everyone will make them.
When it happens, try to balance out criticism with positivity. Try to help people stay focused on the positives; that will build the resilience needed to overcome the inevitable challenges that arise.
Anticipate Problems Before They Happen
When challenges arise, or if you’re laying out a plan for a new task or project, always anticipate future obstacles and create ways of dealing with them before they arise. You’ll be better equipped to face problems if and when they do occur, and you’ll find yourself capable of overcoming challenges that may otherwise have derailed your efforts.
Success Happens Step by Step
It’s a good thing to be focused on long-term, larger goals, but you also need to remember that those goals are accomplished one small step at a time. Acknowledging that small successes along the way helps employees stay focused and committed to achieving larger goals, and that’s a good thing for your company culture to have.
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