How About No? Negativity & Other Such Endeavors

We all have those days. We wake up after the alarm, pour milk on our eggs, salt in our coffee or board a flight, only to get off 40 minutes later due to a ‘maintenance issue.’ It happens. As a business or team leader, you’ll shake it off, stick a smile on your face and power through. You adjust, and unless something goes completely awry, you find your mojo. After all, what you do matters. And how you do it matters even more. After all, you have employees to lead and critical projects to manage. It is the passion, the focus, the energy – you possess (the intangibles, if you will) that can overcome even the worst Monday morning.

But what about the people on your team? Are they able to dig deep, self-correct and deliver the goods? Or – like most large organizations – do have a set of folks who negatively succumb to every bad mood, upended project or policy overhaul? One or two you can manage. But a team loaded with naysayers will suck the energy out of the room while tossing mini bombshells into a project or initiative. It’s exasperating.

“Not gonna happen.”
“It’s not going to work.”
“Can’t we just do the same thing as last quarter?”
“Is it 5 o’clock yet?”

You could always try ignoring them, but the problem will still exist and this behavior affects your other employees (misery loves company) and your business’s bottom line. You can also opt remove them, but our advice? It’s far better to foster engagement by asking for input and valuing their contributions.

Offer Insight (aka the Big Picture)
Empower your employees to see the direct connection between the business strategy and their own work. Communicate both today’s goals and strategies with the longer term for a full view into the company’s plan for success. (FYI – we’re not talking about a summary chart in a PPT deck. A handful of bullets will not provide insight.) Of course, we recognize you’ll have to do some filtering, but we highly encourage a deep dive on what other areas of the company are doing as well. Product development, sales, marketing, etc. all help employees gain a better understanding of how their work impacts others, and what they can do to meaningfully contribute to the big picture.

Reward Excellent Failures
Let’s be clear. We’re not talking about rewarding reckless abandon, stupidity or bad work. This is about rewarding failure in a structured way. You can encourage risk, creativity and innovation all day long, but how do you respond if someone on your team has an epic failure? Leverage this as an opportunity to encourage continued creativity, thereby removing the fear of failure. Need convincing? Here are a few examples of companies “rewarding excellent failure.”
• P&G offers a “heroic failure award”
• TATA has a “dare to try award”
• Supercell (the gaming company behind Clash of Clans) cracks open a bottle of champagne every time a game fails
• Google GOOGL rewards their employees for failure with raises and recognition

Reward Excellent Successes
It’s important that you give equal kudos to those that rise to the challenge and deliver excellence. Monetary rewards are nice, but there are countless other ways to acknowledge success and demonstrate appreciation. In fact, most Fortune 5000 companies have formal employee reward programs. But while employees might enjoy getting company branded gear those are ‘automatic’ and rarely personal. The best (and most favored) are often the most simple – public and private recognition. Send them an email, talk about them in a team meeting and give them additional opportunities to shine.