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Don't let negative personalities drag down your team

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Mark Keeton, Vice President
Solution Management

It’s Monday morning and you walk into work with a spring in your step, excited about the challenges of the coming week. You have a new project on the horizon and if you perform well, it may mean you get more job responsibilities or even a promotion.

And then you see Sad Sack Sally and your happy mood evaporates. You never want to see Sad Sack Sally but she always has her eye out for you or anyone else who will listen. She pulls you aside and immediately starts venting about her boss, her colleagues, her dog —anything and everything!

Non-Committal Ned is close by and he joins the conversation. He waffles about everything and sides with Sally as she bashes the company. True to his name, Ned switches sides when you make a point about how you are looking forward to a productive week.

Sound familiar? These personalities plague many companies and symbolize employee engagement at its best and at its worst.

Engaged employees — that’s you — are eager to get to work, offer interesting and innovative new ideas, pay attention and are generally good humored.

Disengaged employees like Sad Sack Sally are focused on tearing down the organization. At its worst, their behavior can be cancerous and will infect other employees.

Swaying the Undecideds

But there’s also a third group. Employees like Non-Committal Ned are smack in the middle. Like undecided voters, they could go either way. Some days they are motivated and others not so much.

The bad news? These non-motivated employees could be dragged into the mire by the disengaged workers at your company. The good news? They also can be lifted up by engaged employees. It’s a matter of coaching and cultivating positive behavior and culture.

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability,” said Anne M. Mulcahy, former chairperson of Xerox.

According to Gallup, employees who don’t feel recognized are twice as likely to quit. Global research by Gallup finds only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work. According to their most recent State of the American Workplace report, just 33 percent of employed U.S. residents are engaged at work.

Listen for motivations, reward for performance
So, how can you make a difference and swing those undecideds into the engaged camp? Follow these tips to get your employees on the right track, improve company culture and boost your bottom line.

  • Build trust. Once trust goes away, employees focus on assigning blame rather than delivering on results.
  • Listen to everyone. Some of the best ideas often come from the lower levels of your organization.
  • Figure out what motivates your employees. Financial or non-financial incentives. Everyone is different so a combination of both will help motivate your team.
    Allocate roles and responsibilities based on strengths. Instead of trying to improve people’s weaknesses, focus on their strengths.
  • Ensure every employee feels heard, valued and appreciated for their contributions.
  • Empower your employees and let them make mistakes. Learning from their mistakes will help them grow.
  • Value your employees as people, not just as workers.

Keep your focus on the keys to employee engagement — interesting work and recognition for performance — and soon your Non-Committal Neds will become company cheerleaders just like you.

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