Focus on the Positive
Staying positive is sometimes more difficult than it sounds, especially in the business world. Business experts agree that we see what we look for. If we look for negative outcomes or issues, we will find them. Employers who constantly look for negatives can drive down morale, which leads to burnout, apathy, and sometimes insubordination. It’s crucial that the workplace stay as positive as possible. Fortunately, there are a few key simple ways to ensure this and help employees feel appreciated.
Use Constructive Feedback
It’s often easier to criticize than praise, simply because finding and fixing what’s wrong is human nature. Yet too much criticism leaves employees feeling they can’t do anything right. Make a concentrated effort to use constructive criticism, especially if your company is just starting out or if you’ve noticed several negative issues lately. Balance praise with criticism, and make sure you discuss positives first. When you do point out something that needs work, give the person specific ways to improve or fix the issue.
Observe and Offer Help
Often, employees complain that their bosses don’t see them struggling with tasks or don’t seem interested in helping. Observe your employees closely – what tasks are they confident in completing? What tasks do they dread or otherwise struggle to complete? Build good rapport with all employees so that when you do offer help, it doesn’t come across as doubt that the employee can do his or her job.
Ask things like, “What would be most helpful right now?” or, “What questions do you have about this project?” You might find that many of your employees have difficulty with the same tasks or are expressing similar concerns. If that’s the case, you could put out an email or hold a brief meeting addressing these issues.
Let Employees Utilize Talents
Employees display negative attitudes if they feel their talents and strengths aren’t being used. Again, build rapport, so you know where individuals’ talents and strengths lie. Use those strengths as much as possible. If Maria is a sanguine woman who loves people, suggest she lead a sales team rather than assigning her to a desk job. If Daniel is introverted and great at organization, perhaps he should spend most of his time analyzing data or working on computer programs. The more their strengths are utilized, the happier and more positive your employees will be.
Say Thank You
You might be the warmest, most relaxed boss in your field, but if you never thank your employees for their hard work, they will feel underappreciated, which will feed negative attitudes. Say “thank you” with words and actions often. Send personal emails thanking each employee for specific good things they have done, such as completing a difficult project with aplomb. Offer rewards in the form of gift certificates, extra break time, or, where appropriate, salary increases.
Start an office encouragement chain. Everyone from the CEO to the janitor can use this chain to offer positive words to specific people or to entire teams or departments. Encouragement chains are also great for stressful times, such as right before reports or projects are due, or when an employee is having a particularly hard time with certain tasks.