Employers want their offices to act as well-oiled machines with everyone getting along – or at least having disagreements that lead to greater understanding of each others’ positions. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen – and when the negative vibes go unchecked, they can poison the entire workplace. So here are some suggestions on how to address the office antagonism before it gets out of hand.
When you have some control, communicate.
If you, as a manager or supervisor, have the power to influence the negativity, do so as soon as possible after hearing about it.
- First of all, poor communication may have started everything: a new policy that’s not fully understood, a disgruntled former employee spreading rumors, a misinterpretation of a company email, etc. Use a systematic approach to solve the problem by speaking with the employees affected by the negativity. Get to the root cause of the low morale and put together an action plan – with input from numerous employees so they feel involved personally – to solve the problem.
- Continue communicating as much as possible and check in to make sure the plan remains effective.
When employees feel they have no control, accentuate the positive.
Sometimes negativity comes from something that happens to and affects employees, such as a hiring freeze, necessity for mandatory overtime, corporate downsizing, and the like.
- If you have the ability to influence any part of the situation, do so: Make sure those in power understand the negative impact of the situation and, if possible, do what you can to influence it.
- Listen to employees and their frustrations – sometimes they’ll just need to feel they’re being heard, literally and figuratively. Offer opportunities for them to voice their concerns and share what you can so employees feel they can trust you. And shut down pessimistic thinking or false rumors that can increase negativity.
- Speak with employees and ask questions that will give you thorough answers as to why they’re feeling low – it could circle back to lack of communication again. Overall, help employees to feel heard and included.
You can’t always solve the problem of negativity, but there are steps you can take to lessen or diffuse it. For advice on how to handle such situations, visit the professionals at PrideStaff.