Toxic Employee Attitudes: How to Keep Negativity From Infecting Your Workplace

Toxic Employee Attitudes: How to Keep Negativity
From Infecting Your Workplace
FEATURED FACULTY:
Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D., Your Office Coach
770-788-1108
[email protected]
Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D., Your Office Coach
Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D., writes a nationwide newspaper column, Your Office
Coach, and is the author of two books: Secrets to Winning at Office Politics and
The Management Team Handbook. Her advice has appeared in Fortune, the
Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Canadian Business, CNBC.com, and
many other publications. Some of Marie's leadership development, career
coaching, and teambuilding clients include Home Depot, AT&T, Cisco, Tyson
Foods, Lowe's, The Weather Channel and Prudential.
Previously, Marie held management positions in both business and government,
including Director of Human Resources in a Fortune 500 company. She has
more than twenty years’ experience in management and organizational
development.
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How to Keep
Negativity
from
Infecting Your Workplace
Dealing with Whiners, Pessimists, Bullies, & Other “Downers”
Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D.
Your Office Coach
www.yourofficecoach.com
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
CONTACT INFORMATION
Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D
Your Office Coach
 Free coaching tips: www.yourofficecoach.com
 Personal coaching: mmcintyr[email protected]
 LinkedIn & Twitter: @officecoach
 Book: “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics”
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
1
TOPICS for TODAY

Is Your Workplace Contaminated?

What Causes Negative Behavior?

Recognizing Your “Negativity Carriers”

How Managers Unwittingly Encourage Negativity

Six Tools for Neutralizing Negativity

Surviving in a Toxic Organization
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
NEGATIVITY INFECTIONS
Is Your Workplace Contaminated?
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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NEGATIVITY INFECTIONS
NEGATIVITY
Any verbal or non-verbal behavior
that causes others to feel
upset, depressed,
anxious, discouraged,
or hopeless
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
NEGATIVITY INFECTIONS
7 Symptoms of a Negativity Infection
 Informal conversations include a lot of griping.
 Employees seldom laugh, joke, or celebrate.
 Meetings and discussions quickly take on a negative tone.
 People often question the motives of others.
 Coworkers become easily annoyed or irritated with one another.
 Managers hear a lot of complaints from employees.
 Office events are poorly attended.
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
3
NEGATIVITY INFECTIONS
The Hidden Costs of Negativity
Emotional contagion
Reduced motivation
Lower productivity
Absenteeism
Turnover
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
CAUSES OF NEGATIVITY
What Causes Negative Behavior?
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
4
CAUSES OF NEGATIVITY
Diagnosing the Cause

Problematic personality traits

Career setbacks & obstacles

Resistance to change

Management actions
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
CAUSES OF NEGATIVITY
Change = Loss
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
5
CAUSES OF NEGATIVITY
What have they lost?
Meaning & Purpose
Control
Competence
Relationships
Safety & Security
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
Recognizing Your “Negativity Carriers”
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
6
NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
People who promote negativity . . .

Whiners & Complainers

Constant Critics

Tattletales & Gossips

Rabble-rousers

Office Bullies

Gloomy Pessimists

Stealth Attackers
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
#1 Whiners & Complainers
Talk at great length about
whatever is making them
unhappy at the moment
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
7
NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
#2 Constant Critics
Point out the errors or flaws in
others’ work, but never admit
mistakes of their own
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
#3 Tattletales & Gossips
Love to “spread the news”
with little regard for
whether it is actually true
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
#4 Rabble-rousers
Try to get people “stirred
up” about anything they
think is wrong or unfair
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
#5 Office Bullies
Intimidate others by becoming
verbally – and sometimes
physically – aggressive
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
#6 Gloomy Pessimists
Consistently point out potential
negative outcomes of any action
or decision
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
NEGATIVITY CARRIERS
#7 Stealth Attackers
Appear positive when talking
with management, but try to stir
up trouble behind the scenes
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
10
MANAGEMENT PITFALLS
How Managers Unwittingly Encourage Negativity
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT PITFALLS
Quick Quiz: Do you encourage negative behavior?

I often get tired of listening to complaining employees.

I am frequently surprised when employees get upset about changes.

Some of my employees are chronic tattletales.

I openly share all management information with employees.

I sometimes find myself joining employee gossip sessions.

Employees often wander into my office to gripe about things.

I try to share my honest feelings with employees.

I often don’t have time to prepare employees for upcoming changes.

I have some employees who closely monitor their coworkers.

I would like to discourage negative behavior, but I don’t know how.
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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MANAGEMENT PITFALLS
Negativity Pitfalls for Managers
►
Tolerating negative behavior
►
Using the wrong “reward equation”
►
Joining the “complainer chorus”
►
Failing to filter information
►
Poor change management
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Six Strategies for Neutralizing Negativity
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Strategies for Neutralizing Negativity

Behavioral Coaching

Motivational Levers

Career Goals

Listening Posts

Team Turnaround

Coaches & Facilitators
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Behavioral Coaching
Goal
Steps
To help an employee change
specific negative behaviors
• Educate the employee about the problem
• Have a two-way discussion about change
• Agree on action plans & follow up
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
13
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
The 5-Step Behavioral Coaching Process
Your
Perspective
Two-way
Discussion
►
Share your observations
►
Explain need for change
►
Discuss causes & barriers
►
Agree on strategies for change
►
Provide ongoing feedback
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Examples
Invitation to Change
• Complainers: “I’ve noticed that you seem to spend a lot of time
complaining about things that make you unhappy. Your coworkers find this
very depressing, so in the future, I need for you to keep these negative
thoughts to yourself. However, if you have problems that I can help with,
please let me know.”
• Critics: “When other people present ideas or proposals, you immediately
start talking about why they won’t work. Although you often make some good
points, this quick criticism tends to discourage creative thinking, so I need you
to look for the possible benefits of an idea before you attack it. ”
• Bullies: “You often become verbally aggressive with people in meetings. In
a professional work environment, it is not acceptable to yell or insult people, so
if you want to have a career here, this needs to change immediately.”
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
14
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Examples
Invitation to Change
• Rabble-rousers: “When you are upset about something, you often
become quite vocal with your coworkers and get them upset as well. This is
very disruptive, so when you have a problem or concern, I need for you to
bring it to me first to see if we can work it out.”
• Stealth Attackers: “I understand that you’ve been saying some very
negative things about our new product line. I was surprised, because I’ve
never heard you express those concerns. In the future, I would appreciate it if
you would bring these issues directly to me so that we can discuss them.”
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Using Motivational Levers
Goal
To reduce negativity by
increasing job satisfaction
Steps
• Find out what is missing in the employee’s job
• Determine if job changes are feasible
• Make job change contingent upon behavior change
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Common Motivators
• Achievement
Challenging tasks, clear goals, specific projects, success
measures
• Interaction
Friendly relationships, frequent interaction, time for
discussion
• Creativity
Varied tasks, new ideas, different approaches,
brainstorming
• Leadership
Making decisions, directing others, leading projects,
autonomy
• Service
Helping others, working for a cause, fulfilling a purpose,
living their values
• Problem-solving
Complex problems, mental stimulation, demonstrating
expertise
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Exploring Career Goals
Goal
Steps
To help employees see that
their negative behavior is selfdefeating
• Learn about the employee’s work-related goals
• Show how negative behavior could keep them
from reaching their goals
• Agree on strategies for change
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
16
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Creating Listening Posts
Goal
Steps
To provide opportunities for
employees to tell you about
their concerns
• Have regular interaction with employees
• Allow time to discuss issues, concerns, & rumors
• Increase listening during periods of change
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Listening Methods

“Management by walking around”

Regular staff meetings

Eating lunch with employees

Interaction with remote employees

Skip-level meetings

Group listening sessions & retreats

Questions on index cards

Employee surveys & focus groups

Anonymous complaint channels
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Team Turnaround
Goal
Steps
To change the negative culture
of a work group
• Enlist the entire group in becoming a better team
• Take a “gap analysis” approach
• Provide feedback & follow-up
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Team Turnaround
 Set aside specific time for a “team turnaround” meeting.
 Take the group offsite if possible. Consider using a facilitator.
 Describe your concerns in terms of business problems.
 Engage the group in defining the kind of team they want to be.
 Conduct a “gap analysis” with the team.
 Agree on specific action steps and a feedback plan.
 Assess progress during regular meetings.
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
18
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
Coaches & Facilitators
Goal
Steps
To resolve serious issues that
are beyond the manager's
capabilities
• Recognize when a problem exceeds your ability to
deal with it
• Locate a professional coach or facilitator
• Be sure the consultant is experienced with your
type of problem
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
TERMINATION
When removing the cause is the only cure
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES
“Either people
choose to change
or we can choose
to change people.”
Katherine Meyer
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
TOXIC WORKPLACE
Surviving in a Toxic Organization
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
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11 Signs of a Toxic Organization
1. People try to avoid talking to managers.
2. Management egos need to be stroked constantly.
3. Executives are primarily focused on increasing their power or pay.
4. Ongoing power struggles consume a lot of time and energy.
5. Entire departments are at war with each other.
6. Gossip, blaming, and back-biting are common among coworkers.
7. More attention is given to what’s wrong than what’s right.
8. Problems automatically trigger the search for a scapegoat.
9. A lot of energy is spent on CYA activities.
10. Disagreements become personal and insulting.
11. No consideration is given to personal or family needs.
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
TOXIC WORKPLACE
Strategies for Staying Sane
 Emotionally detach. Don’t allow it to matter. Keep it out of your head.
 Lower your expectations. It’s not going to change.
 Do what’s required at work, but save your energy for job-seeking.
 Do not get sucked into unproductive games.
 Avoid spending unnecessary time with negative people.
 Find social support outside of work.
 Use effective stress management techniques.
 Focus on the future. And get out of there.
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
21
CONTACT INFORMATION
Marie G. McIntyre, Ph.D
Your Office Coach
 Free coaching tips: www.yourofficecoach.com
 Personal coaching: [email protected]
 LinkedIn & Twitter: @officecoach
 Book: “Secrets to Winning at Office Politics”
Copyright Marie G. McIntyre, All rights reserved.
22