One of my most challenging aspects of my job as a nursing manager is dealing with negative behaviors. It takes skill and patience to effectively handle the challenging employee who puts a negative spin on everything. My own personal rule is never to ignore negative behavior but examine what can be done to change the negative energy into a positive energy. This is not an easy task for even the most skilled manager.
Everyone can identify the negative personalities in the workplace and how morale can be affected if the negative behavior is left unchallenged. Let's examine three different negative personality types:
We have all had to work with Mary the Pessimist.
No matter what you say or any other employee says, Mary will find someway to put it down. She never finds good in anything and loves to hang onto old baggage. She is resistant to change, and the minute you try to implement change she is right behind your back telling everyone it will not work. This type of employee directs negativity at everyone in their path. The danger with this type of employee is that her negative attitude is like a spider web and traps other employees into the naysayer group.
Then there is Barry Rumor Mouth.
Barry loves to stir the pot. Barry looks for all kind of negative stories to spread about everyone. He is the one in the back conference room talking about that latest dirt on another employee. His behavior affects productivity and brings down morale. He is the employee who says one thing to your face and talks against you behind your back.
We all know Wanda Whiny.
Wanda is your constant complainer and never finds good in anything or anyone. She tells everyone she has too much work to do and is not paid what she is worth. She actually spend more time complaining than actually working. She will make complaints to anyone who will listen to her. Her behavior has negative impact on motivation and spreads bad feelings. Her constant critical and complaining attitude decreases the effectiveness of those working with her.
The problem with all of these individuals is that it is very easy to get caught up in the complaining and constant negative conversations. A smart employee who recognizes this behavior will change the tone of the conversation by changing the subject and talking about something that is more pleasant.
As a manager I have found it is good to look for employees that exhibit collaboration, teamwork, positive attitude and a willingness to help other individuals without being asked. You can have a lot of good workers but it does not always make them the best employees. Their work is getting done but they bring a lot of negative baggage. If the negative behavior is addressed in the early stages it makes it harder for the negative employee to spread their negative ways and it sends a message to the other employees that their behavior is unacceptable.
One of the best tools any manager can use is to model positive behavior. Positive behavior will engage the employees. If the manager is negative and talks negative, than the employees will follow. It is important to show employees that you have confidence in their abilities to do a good job. The manager needs to lay out clear expectations, be supportive and hold the employees accountable.
When negativity is present then acknowledge it, the behavior will not go away by itself. If the manager does nothing, the employees will lose confidence in the managers abilities. Identify that employees are frustrated and never tell an employee they should not have negative feelings. Instead ask them for suggestions and resolutions for the issues that are distressing them. The biggest positive change happens when the employees are part of the resolution.