It can be hard to break a company’s negative culture. After all, it’s easy to get caught up in the negative feedback and start to internalize it.
Negativity, in the form of gossip, rumors, and ill will, destroys teams and organizations. It can lead to stress, ill health, and even quitting.
This article will show you how to reverse a culture of negativity and create an environment where team members can speak up, give their best ideas, and work in harmony instead of criticizing or judging each other.
We’ll share some simple steps you can take to start the process of creating a positive workplace today.
5 Super Simple Steps to Reverse a Negative Culture Within Your Company
1. Identify the factors contributing to the negativity.
First, identify the factors contributing to the negativity. This will help you understand the dynamics at play and what needs to change. If you’re unsure, ask your team, your manager, or your supervisor. Here are some common signs.
- People work because they fear leadership, not because they’re motivated.
- There is very little transparency from top to bottom.
- Employees are unmotivated and unproductive.
- Gossip and rumors are more common.
- No sense of team play, and employees are competing negatively – us vs. them.
- Wage gaps, favoritism, and/or discrimination.
- High level of stress — no work/life balance.
Clearly, none of these signs contribute to a positive work environment. Likewise, if all or most of them are present in a workplace, the organization’s future is at risk. So once you identify these factors, you need to start working on fixing every one of them.
2. Improve the flow of communication.
Trying to reverse the culture of negativity in your organization can seem daunting at first, but you don’t have to fix everything. Start by improving the communication first, as this is the key to higher productivity. In fact, organizations with excellent employee communication experience 20-25% higher productivity.
Communication is the lifeblood of every organization.
That said, here are the steps to take to establish a positive flow of communication from top to bottom and vice versa.
- Start communicating better. Communicate with your team members. Share feedback about their performance and help them improve. This can be done in person, by email, or in other forms of communication. Set up regular 1-on-1 meetings with team members.
- Focus on the good. You might notice that some employees are criticizing others for no reason. It’s important to remind them of the positive things they do and the benefits of being positive.
- When someone is negative, focus on the positive. Acknowledge the good work they do. Help your employees find ways to celebrate success. Give them feedback about the things they do well and how they can improve.
- Everyone wants to feel supported. If you notice that people are not happy with how they’re being treated, be supportive.
- Encourage people to speak up. This can be done in person, by email, or in other forms of communication.
3. Ask how your employees are doing…solve their problems if you are able.
Next, find out how others are handling the negativity. As a result, this will help you understand what’s going on with your employees and what they need from you.
Your core focus should be on becoming a servant leader — solving any issues your employees have. You can do this by asking the following questions.
- Are you experiencing any problems?
- Are you noticing that some people are behaving differently than usual?
- What’s the attitude of your bosses towards you?
- Is there someone giving you a hard time at the office?
- Do you feel safe and encouraged when sharing new ideas?
Furthermore, you can launch a company-wide survey to identify the key problems people face in the current company culture. This will help you avoid making policies that reinforce these issues in the new positive culture.
4. Have a private discussion with negative employees.
It’s not possible to have a negative culture in a workplace without a group of people making it one.
Whether it’s a small company or a big corporation, some people are always spreading toxicity. This can be in the form of bullying, harassment, gossiping about other employees, or passing judgments whenever someone does something productive.
Once you’ve established a positive flow of communication and launched a company-wide survey, it is a matter of time before you’ll identify these trouble makers.
Once your employees see you’re someone they can trust and go to with their problems. Likewise, you’ll start hearing some names frequently in complaints. These will be the names of the people you need to talk to.
No matter what the previous leadership did or how they handled these people, you need to start by showing compassion. Unless they did something terribly wrong, like physically assaulting someone or damaging property, give them a first and last warning in a private meeting. Make it clear that you’ll be good with them as long as they’re behaving. Then, if someone still continues spreading negativity, it’s time to make an example out of them with a public firing.
5. Encourage, appreciate, and reward.
Once things are in motion and you see employees behaving positively, you need to put the cherry on top by following something I call the EAR protocol. This is where you encourage employees to share their ideas, take the initiative and share their progress with you.
You can then provide them with valuable feedback, appreciate their work, and reward them with something, even if it’s as little as taking them out to a meal. To be honest, getting something as little as a chance to sit and talk with the boss over a meal makes the employee’s day.
Following the EAR protocol will ensure your employees stay motivated and work as a team under your leadership. Similarly, they will forget about being competitive with each other in a negative way. They won’t have time to gossip, and they will know that they can only earn your respect through hard work and not flattery.
Are you ready to make your company a place employees love?
It’s no secret that a negative culture in workplaces can be quite grumpy at times. Employees feel stressed, undervalued, and unsupported. In order to turn things around, all you need to do is follow the five super-simple steps listed above.
Furthermore, by identifying the reasons for the negativity and solving problems with transparency, communication, and support, you’ll create an atmosphere where your employees are encouraged and motivated to excel.