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The Trouble with Workplace Positivity

It is a wonderful thing to have a workplace where everyone is always happy, always positive and always collaborating and agreeing, but unfortunately it is simply not feasible at all times. However, as a manager you are focused on ensuring your workplace is a place of positivity, both for your workers’ well being, their productivity and the ongoing success of the organisation.

Studies show that a negative work environment affects the productivity of workers, as it takes a mental toll on them. A toxic workplace can make workers irritable, anxious, and defensive. Furthermore, a consistently toxic or negative working environment can lead to a rise in absenteeism and higher staff turnover, as dissatisfied workers jump ship in order to find a working environment where they can thrive.

Unfortunately, positivity is not something that can be forced upon employees. If you expect employees to remain positive, with little reason for them to do so, you will quickly learn that any positivity will be faked in order to appease those expecting it. Unlike a clown, you can’t paint the smiles on the faces of your employees. The environment they are in needs to feel positive in order for them to be positive.

As mentioned, promoting and maintaining a positive environment starts at the top of the chain and needs to funnel down to the rest of the business. So how do you create a positive and upbeat workplace for your employees?

Encourage Feedback

Employees need to feel that their opinions will be heard and that any feedback or concerns will be addressed. If people believe they can’t be open and honest in the workplace it will lead to dissatisfaction with their role and the company as a whole. Encourage open and honest feedback in your workplace. You can do this by conducting regular meetings with your team where they can bring along a list of items to discuss, whether it be suggestions or concerns. You need to be sure the meeting doesn’t get out of hand and that any feedback is conveyed diplomatically to avoid conflict.

If a meeting format is not your style, you could develop a suggestion box or a Team Performance Feedback sheet, much like the one you will find in LMA’s The Performance Edge course. This sheet lets members of your team identify areas of strengths and areas where improvement might be required. This would give you a great opportunity to discover if your employees have similar views on what is working well and what is not, as well as how you could improve it.

Be Respectful

Earning respect ties in with encouraging feedback and letting employees feel heard. There is a great saying, “Treat people the way you want to be treated. Talk to people the way you want to be talked to. Respect is earned, not given.”

Managers set the tone for the culture of an organisation, so it is important for a manager to treat staff with respect in order to receive their respect in return. You demonstrate respectful behaviour by acting in ways that shows you’re aware of your team members and colleagues’ feelings. A manager needs to be aware that each employee brings their own experiences and knowledge to their job and deserve to be heard.

Show Appreciation

A common complaint from employees is that they don’t feel appreciated or aren’t awarded for a job well done. Whilst it is important for a manager to highlight mistakes or problems with behaviour, it is also just as important to show appreciation for tasks completed or demonstration of initiative.

If you fail to show appreciation and only condemn negative behaviours, your employees will be less inclined to want to succeed and show initiative in the future. An encouraging and appreciative environment lets team members know they are valued and creates a more positive workplace.

Invest in Training and Development

Investing in your team’s career development is a win/win situation for both the individual and the company. The team member gets to expand their skill set and develop their career, whilst the company gets the benefit of a more productive employee with a greater knowledge of how best to do their job. Furthermore, the team member feels much more valued and positive about the organisation if you are willing to put the time and money into further developing them.

Investing in training doesn’t necessarily mean a monetary investment, it can also mean a time investment. You could arrange to have one-on-one meetings with members of your team and ask them to bring along a task they would like to learn that could expand their skill set. Take the time to reward this initiative by showing them how to complete a task that could take the workload off you, but also give them more responsibility.

Creating a positive environment is not achieved overnight, but making conscious efforts to conduct yourself and your organisation in a positive way will lead to higher employee satisfaction, more productivity and therefore more profit for the company. Ultimately, it will mean your organisation can be one that employees and managers want to be a part of and leading you to become an Employer of Choice.