Business Career Communications — 24 January 2013
What can YOU do to maintain positivity and improve productivity at work?

Most offices have a ‘Negative Nelly'; if you work in a particularly large office, you’ve probably got a few. You know who I’m talking about. These people spread their negativity in a variety of ways, and are damaging to productivity and business success. In uncertain times, like those we’re living through now, these sunshine assassins are even more dangerous, and can infiltrate and influence even the most positive of teams.

It’s hard for most of us to know what the coming week holds, let alone the coming year; your crystal ball is about as accurate as mine. Depending on what newspaper you might read, or what news bulletin you might watch, 2013 could herald the start of a global recovery, or the start of a second, and much worse, global recession.

Such uncertainty is a breeding ground for negativity within the workplace. Now, more than ever, it’s important to be positive.

Whereas negative attitudes within the office contribute to absenteeism, conflict, speculation and general unpleasantness, being outwardly positive contributes to the building of strong teams and productive working relationships, which lead to business success.

Without such positive energy in the office, everyday problems at work — niggling tension with colleagues, and frustrations with one’s role — are magnified, and their potential adverse affects on team morale and, ultimately, performance, multiplied.

Most of us are drawn to positive people, because they make us feel better. Most of us are energised by positive people, because they exert positive energy.

So what are some little things you can do to promote a positive, and productive, atmosphere in your office or work environment throughout these uncertain times?

Well, regardless of whether you’re a manager or not, talking to people is key to keeping positivity up. It doesn’t matter whether you’re in a small design studio, large agency or global behemoth of a company; regular, honest and two way communication is incredibly important. As a manager, you may think an email pushed out to five – or 500 – of your people may get the message across just as you’d like it to, but it won’t be as effective as taking the time to have a face-to-face chat or, where geographic distance doesn’t allow that, a chat over the telephone.

Written communication can be taken so many different ways; sometimes it leads to further ambiguity, and even more questions being asked. Having a conversation, however, not only builds rapport, but builds your own credibility as someone who is visible, accessible, human, and not just a name at the bottom of an email. In uncertain times, the worst thing we can do is to shut out our co-workers and communicate with them only by email.

It makes sense, too, that teams that know how to have fun together generally work better together, and achieve more together. Work deadlines, disagreements and healthy tension are just a part of most jobs, but they don’t have to affect you and your team’s ability to release the pressure through having a laugh, either in or out of the office on a Friday afternoon, or simply throughout the day. Employers with high retention rates recognise the importance of regularly engaging teams through social occasions and events. That spreading of positive energy that comes from a pat on the back for a job well done may not seem like much, but after a tough week, it means the world to many employees, and is likely to encourage further discretionary effort. The smallest positive gestures or words of encouragement can have much bigger positive impacts effects on your business.

Negative Nellys will, unfortunately, always be a part of working life, but you can rise above them, and contribute to the building of a positive, and productive, atmosphere in your office. What do you think?

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