Building a strong, positive company culture will never happen without intention. Every day organizations face obstacles that lead to unhealthy cultures. But by creating an intentional environment that embraces positivity and sees opportunity in every obstacle, we can develop strong cultures that will win the loyalty of our team and build better companies.
The Impact of Negativity
The constant barrage of negativity might be the biggest barrier to a positive culture. Negativity comes from so many places it can be overwhelming: the news, social media, or even from our friends, our family, and our co-workers. Whether persistent complaining, criticizing, blaming or always expecting the worst, the impact of negativity is devastating.
Consistent negativity will erode trust in teams. Instead of working together toward a common goal, collaboration is undercut by distrust, blame and self-promotion. Creativity is stifled by this atmosphere as the team becomes overwhelmed by problems, finding fault in any new ideas. As a result, communication erodes, leaving problems unresolved and progress slowed.
While stress can elevate our performance, the pervasive atmosphere of negativity elevates stress to unhealthy levels. Morale decreases considerably and work becomes an unpleasant place to be. A considerable amount of time and energy are wasted on unproductive conflict. Health problems escalate, as does absenteeism. With team members functioning at lower than optimal levels, production, customer service and quality all suffer.
Naturally, this negativity leads to a decrease in employee engagement. The more negatively employees feel about a situation, the less engaged they will be. Disengaged and dissatisfied employees lead to costly turnover.
As we consider the impact a negative culture has on our organization, it is imperative we take steps to counteract it. While it is impossible to completely eliminate negativity from the workplace, steps can be taken to reduce its foothold.
Celebrate Your Wins
One way to offset the power of negativity is to take time to celebrate your wins. By intentionally highlighting the positive achievements of your team, you can offset the tendency to dwell on the problems and provide positive momentum for future progress. When we spend time and energy celebrating our wins, we see more than just the things that are broken. It also helps our team feel a sense of satisfaction for the progress they are making and the improvements they are bringing to our organization.
As leaders, we spend so much time focused on problems that we forget to highlight the successes. While problem-solving is a necessary part of our work, over time, it can add to the overall sense of negativity if we become overly focused on problems.
We need to make room for sharing successes in one-on-ones, block out time on meeting agendas for good news and be on the lookout for progress and wins. While we may naturally want to jump straight into “problem-solving” mode, we would do well to stop and talk about what we did well, tell stories of team members who lived out your company values, give attention to the employee who hit a milestone or received positive feedback from a client. All of this will have a powerful impact on the positive culture of our organization.
This habit of celebrating wins will motivate your team and remind them that the organization is moving in a positive direction.
“Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive. Great companies are improved by them.” – Andy Grove
It is common for teams to view their problems as nuisances. They fixate on the problems, look for someone to blame, constantly complain about them, and get overwhelmed by them. Those teams become infected with negativity and their ability to work together to overcome them is severely hampered.
More successful teams have found a different way to frame those problems. They see every problem as an opportunity to grow. A challenge is a chance to learn something new. A customer complaint is an opportunity to come alongside to help them win. Instead of panicking over a crisis, these teams focus on how that crisis can help them solve a problem that may be holding them back.
If your organization is like most, you can quickly rattle off several challenges you are facing right now. Decide how you and your team will think and talk about them.
Improvement and innovation are in discomfort.
Our greatest success and growth comes through our challenges and problems. The bigger the problem, the greater the opportunity for growth. You won’t find these opportunities in a place of comfort. Our most significant advances come when we are in places where we are uncomfortable, needing to try new things, having to break old habits, or make scary changes.
Over time a positive culture of celebration and opportunity will take hold on your team, which will build momentum, keep employees more engaged, improve performance, and make your organization a better place to work.
“By turning challenges into opportunities, you will find success you never realized you were capable of achieving.” – Richard Branson