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Negativity Is a No-No in the Workplace

Apr 9, 2008
We are what we think. When we think negatively, we then proceed to act negatively, to our detriment and the detriment of those around us. In the workplace, this can result in long lasting harmful effects. It is the responsibility of the leadership and management in an organization to prevent this from happening. When they do, they will find workers operating more efficiently to the betterment of the business as a whole.
What happens to a workplace when negativity spreads through it like a contagion?

The following are the main occurrences:

* Negativity becomes an addiction. Left unchecked negative talk, actions, and thoughts take hold in a person or group of persons. It becomes the norm when there are no actions taken by leaders to control and end it. It begins slowly, almost imperceptibly. Before long gossip, complaining, and general grumbling become the main communication thrust as one's negative thoughts feed off another's. A 'we're in this mess together' and 'poor little old us' takes hold of segments of the general group dynamic.

* General organizational behavior becomes affected. While not everyone in the workplace environment may participate in negative talk or actions, the actions of those who do those things certainly affects them. This can interrupt the collaboration process. Those not prone to negativity may find it difficult to work with those who are. Those responsible for spreading negativity may not want to operate in a collaborative spirit with those they feel are not on 'their side'. It becomes a vicious circle of distrust.

* Workplace productivity falls. When person's or teams cannot work together properly and smoothly then it takes longer to get things done. Fewer products come off the production floor or inferior service results to clients. The effect on the company is poor quality goods or services, which leads to lack of revenue and profits. Therefore, there is a financial hit taken when negativity grabs hold of a workplace.

* Negativity leads to miscommunication and wrong dissemination of information. Someone who gripes may spread false information or gossip to embellish his or her take on a workplace issue. If taken as fact by those who receive the information than management may notice resistance to their policies.

* Negativity can cause misinterpretation of job descriptions. Unwarranted negative information about a specific job function relayed to a new employee can have disastrous effects on a firm. This new employee will perform his or her work based on direction given to them. If the directions they are given are false and seasoned with negativity the employee will function upon this framework. He or she will not perform according to the ideal job description management implemented. The employees work efforts will not mesh with what the company expects of him or her. An employee not performing up to expectations will receive less bonuses, wage increases, and accolades from superiors.

This will cause an employee to exhibit further negativity for not receiving any reward for their work. "Job dissatisfaction occurs when the received condition is noticeably less than the expected condition. Job satisfaction improves as the person's expectations are met or exceeded (up to a point)." (Steven L. McShane, 2001)

Leadership and management in an organization must seek input from their employees to foster an environment of cooperation. An authoritarian 'do as we say or else attitude' is not acceptable in the 21st century workplace. It is necessary to encourage an 'open door' policy between management and subordinates. Open honest communication between these levels of the company hierarchy results in trust and cooperation. There is no reason for negativity under this business model as all are encouraged to share their views and solutions to workplace problems.

The promotion of workplace unity among collaborating work-groups and teams will keep a company competitive. When they have satisfied employees working towards a common goal, they will experience workplace productivity in the top tier of their industry group. The implementation of team rewards for high levels of productivity and quality will further promote workplace unity. Employees working harmoniously to achieve goals will tend to stop negativity from seeping into their circle. "Organizations should use team (or organizational) rewards - team rewards tend to make employees more cooperative and less competitive." (Steven L. McShane, 2001)

Today's business environment demands that business leaders look at the human resource element of their organizations' to ensure negativity does not become part of their corporate culture. Like a bad seed, this human thought process will spread throughout a company's workforce. Not uprooted early, it could take years for a company to rid itself completely of this scourge - a scourge that never would have taken hold, with the implementation of positive motivation into their workplace paradigm.
About the Author
T. Fox researches workplace productivity due to mood disorders, lack of relationship building, and depression symptoms. This article discusses Negativity at the Workplace and how much Productivity Losses it can cause once negativity spreads like a wildfire among employees.
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