How To Turn A Negative Team Into A Positive Team

How To Turn A Negative Team Into A Positive Team

How To Turn A Negative Team Into A Positive Team 

By Mark Wager

Have you ever worked in an environment where everyone seems to be unhappy, people are just constantly moaning, your job is difficult not because of the nature of work you do but because of the people you work alongside, the unnecessary office politics and back stabbing? If this sounds familiar then you will be fully aware of how such a work culture can impact the quality of your work. It’s almost impossible to do your best work when you are working in such an environment and it’s just as difficult if you have the responsibility of leading a team with this negative culture. 

In this weeks article I want to explore this specific challenge of how a Leader can turn a negative team into a positive team.  

Negativity is better than apathy 

When you have a negative team it can seem like there’s nothing worse but there is and that is a team filled with apathy. If you give me two teams, one which is very negative and the other in which the members of the team just don’t care then I can say without question the negative team has a better chance of long term success because people are only negative about things that matter to them. Just look at sports and how fans of a team can turn incredibly negative when the team is performing badly yet when results are going their way the same fans become their most passionate supporters. Negative people are passionate, you just need to direct that passion in a different way.

Acknowledge the past but focus on the future 

It can be difficult for people to let things go, when some feels like they have been treated unfairly or let down those feelings of resentment can stay with a person long after the people responsible for those offences have left. If you are a Leader with this type of team your first action will depend on whether you are the cause of the resentment or if it’s historical and you have inherited the team. Firstly let’s start with the inherited scenario. If people are talking about the past then acknowledge what has happened but don’t debate it. The longer you spend talking about the past the more likely people will stay there, people need to move on and you won’t be able to provide the resolution they need so the best thing you can do is to focus on the future. So when the past is mentioned acknowledge but then move the conversation to what is about to happen.

It’s alright for a Leader to say sorry 

Now let’s look at if you as a Leader are responsible for some part for the feeling of negativity, this will open up a lot of debate about who did what and who takes the blame but if you want to move forward then it’s up to the Leader to take on the responsibility. I know some leaders are wary of apologising because they don’t want to be perceived to be weak but this is just an excuse. Saying sorry shows humility and humility is the most important quality in Leadership. Here is the thing, no one expects a Leader to be perfect they just expect them to do their best. Apologise even if your intent was good and start moving people forward, don’t keep on apologising because you end up keeping people in the past. Apologise once and make it good and then move on.

Set a new standard of behaviours 

The key to creating any positive work culture is to set the right standard of behaviours because if the behaviours are right the results take care of themselves. People need to know what is required not only in their work but also in their interactions with their work colleagues. A positive team requires team players and it’s the leaders responsibility to explain how a good team player behaves and don’t assume it’s obvious because it’s not, you have it make it clear, think about how you want people to conduct themselves at meetings, how you want people to behave when they see someone else make a mistake, who they talk to when they have a complaint about something or someone? 

Criticise individuals and never the group

The most common mistake I see Leaders make when they are trying it change a team culture is that they criticise the team rather than individuals. This is understandable when it’s the whole team that is making the same mistake but when you criticise the team all you do is reinforce the wrong group mentality, instead you need to criticise individuals and not in front of other people.

People will change their attitude when there’s personal responsibility and personal accountability. This can only happen when the Leader addresses the members of their team as individuals making them personally accountable for their actions. There’s no doubt that this creates a great deal of work for the Leader but there’s no quick fix to change a negative workplace it requires a lot of work, a lot of conversations and a lot of leading by example but no one has ever said success is easy. Remember  just like a sports team if you can turn around the team and start turning losing into wins then the biggest critics within your team will become your biggest supporters.

About the Author:

Mark Wager is the Chief Leadership Coach at the Australasian Leadership Institute. Originally from the United Kingdom but now calling New Zealand his home, Mark shows leaders across the Asia Pacific region how to influence, motivate and inspire their teams. Driven by a frustration of attending many ineffective workshops during his 30 year managerial career Mark has made his passion in life to redefine how leaders are trained.

Mark takes advanced psychological theories and makes them accessible to the modern leader regardless of their background, experience or industry, by developing customised Leadership workshops and individual coaching sessions that combine practical real-life scenarios with a mixture of British wit. Mark dispels the myth that there are certain Leadership skills that can’t be learnt. 

Leaders from some of the regions most prestigious organisations have been trained by Mark including the delegates of the European Union, Weta workshops, Amnesty International, Unicef, Barnados, St Johns, Red Cross, NZ Basketball, NZ Tennis, NZ Hockey, NZ Netball, NZ Rugby League, Ministry of Justice, Department of Internal Affairs, NZ Defence Force, the Fijian Broadcasting Corporation, The Fred Hollows Foundation, Sofitel resorts, Raddison Hotel Group, Te Whanau Waipareira and many more. 

You can contact Mark via the enquiry form below

Posted: Monday 15 June 2020


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