Ways of Rebuilding Trust in the Workplace

According to a UK government McLeod review that was published in 2009 and entitled engaging for success, Trust is crucial to positive employee engagement and organizations that were able to cultivate this enjoy several benefits that include 12% greater customer loyalty, 16% higher profit margin, 18% higher productivity, 19% greater operating income, 50% fewer sick days and 87% of employees less likely to leave the organization.

The figures above all point to engagement, a state of mind among staff that John Purcell of the Acas Strategy Unit describes as “a combination of attitude and behavior. The attitude is ‘commitment’, and the behavior is ‘going the extra mile'”. So imagine what an organization will achieve given that there is trust and employee engagement in the workplace. Unfortunately, it is so easy to create a culture of distrust within the company or an organization. Nearly everyone at every level of responsibility does something that breaks trust on a daily basis. In most cases, perpetrators are not even aware that they are committing trust-breaking behaviors.

  • Does everyone gossip in the office?
  • Did you help cover up someone else’s mistake?
  • Has there been a case of people hoarding or leaking confidential information?
  • Is micro-managing the norm in the office?
  • Are employees encouraged to share ideas only to be shut down?
  • Is it a regular occurrence that someone takes credit for other people’s work?

You or someone you know is likely to be guilty of such behaviors. You may not remember it now, but you probably slipped into these kinds of behavior at one point or another, especially while you are juggling responsibilities between work and home.

Because distrust can affect productivity, communication and employee turnover, it is best to rebuild the trust that was destroyed.

Acknowledge That Trust Is Lacking In The Workplace

Until you identify the causes and effects of broken trust, it would be a niggling problem that will not go away. As it happens, distrust doesn’t make itself so obvious, and it is only by acknowledging it that trust can be regained. If you are directly affected, recognize the impact of distrust on your life. What did you lose in the process? Were there missed opportunities because of betrayal? Once you accept your bad experience, you can begin the process of rebuilding trust in yourself and in your colleagues.

Take Responsibility For What Happened

You may not be guilty of breaking trust, but you do have a role to play in rebuilding it. So even if you did not lie, gossip or leak information, you should show to others that you’re willing to acknowledge and face the problem, and then find ways to ensure distrusts will not happen again. If you take the first step in breaking the chain of mistrust, you can help restore trust in others and in your relationships.

Say you are the guilty party. It is vital that you apologize for lying and for lying by omission, if you are guilty of this too. There is no other solution that could help rebuild trust at work than a sincere and honest apology. There is no need to share the reason why you lied, as you could sound as someone making excuses. At least that is the impression that you are going to leave. What is important is that you admit that you lied and then apologize. But don’t expect a coworker to trust you again right then and there. They will be wary for a while and would be on the lookout for the next time that you lie again. So tread carefully from then on.

Allow Thoughts And Feelings To Surface

Now that you acknowledge the situation, it is time for everyone to recognize the impact and effects of distrust in their lives and the way they work. Awful as it may seem, you need to engage in what could only be considered a difficult conversation. When trust is breached, communication could be painful and uncomfortable, but it must be done.

To ensure that everyone gets an opportunity to let it out in the open, so to speak, make sure to:

1. Set the tone for transparency by acknowledging and stating the obvious lack trust. Tell everyone in attendance that you intend to rebuild trust, and you need help in seeing your plans through

2. Take responsibility for your part in the breach of trust. Didn’t they say that it is best to lead by example? Since the intention is to allow feelings to surface, taking accountability for your mistakes would be a precursor to an open and free-flowing dialogue.

3. Listen with empathy and resist the urge to defend yourself. It is normal to want to voice your opposition, especially if you are being attacked, but you might sound defensive and will even cause more problems.

At the end of the conversation make sure that everyone is committed to a set of behaviors and actions that will help rebuild and reinforce trust.

Establish Integrity And Maintain It

Because integrity is the foundation of trust, it is best to establish it first to make it easier to dispel distrust. This can be achieved by doing the exact opposite of whatever caused mistrust in the first place. Always tell the truth rather than lie or tell half-truths. Keep your promises instead of breaking them. Respect others’ ideas instead of shutting them down. No matter how difficult doing these may seem, you must work to make them happen. Integrity, however, should begin from the top. Once everyone has integrity, people would learn to trust an organization.

It is also important that you demonstrate trust in everything that you do. If you are a leader, always take 100% accountability for all your actions. Not everyone might reciprocate your actions, but you must demonstrate trust.

Re-establishing trust would never be easy and, in some cases, it might be too late to change, especially if the culture of distrust has already taken roots and everyone thinks it’s a hopeless case. But with all the benefits that a trustworthy workplace can provide, rebuilding trust should be a priority.

Dealing with Fraternizing in the Workplace

Your employees often work in teams, allowing them to build relationships with each other. They would spend time with co-workers as much as they do with their families. Close relationships among them foster enhanced efficiency and communication. These also make sense because the commonalities your staff members share, such as interests, proximity, age and similar incomes, would encourage friendships that affect the workplace positively adding to the sense of camaraderie and teamwork.

But sometimes, these relationships can also lead to indecent romances that can go awry and result in conflict at work. These can even expose your company to claims of sexual harassment.

With this in consequences in mind, it is important to deal with fraternization properly to make your employees understand where to draw the line with co-workers. Here are some useful ways to get the job done.

1. Establish a Fraternization Or Dating Policy.

This is the first and foremost thing you should do as owner or manager of the company. Remember that your employees have the freedom to develop friendships and relationships inside and out of the office as long as it does not negatively impact work. Any relationship that hinders teamwork, harmony and productivity among your employees should be addressed by implementing a progressive discipline policy.

2. Put Some Limits To Personal Relationships In The Office.

A strict exception to your policy relates to the superiors of your company. Take note that anyone employed in a managerial or supervisory role needs to abide by the rule that personal relationships with his/her subordinates may be perceived as misuse of authority, favoritism or, potentially, sexual harassment. Even if there is no improper conduct occurring, such relationship can cause gossip, dissatisfaction, hard feelings and distraction among other staff members, where it may appear to others as an inappropriate use of position or power. In addition, any fraternization case with a subordinate can affect terms and conditions of employment, such as promotions, pay raises and advancement. So, should discourage fraternization that includes dating, romantic involvement and sexual relations.

3. Point Out Which Dating Behavior Is Acceptable.

In implementing a dating policy, you should outline in the handbook what type of behavior is acceptable in the workplace. For example, you can prohibit dating altogether, but this is quite difficult to enforce effectively. And again, you should prohibit your upper management from dating people who are lower on your organizational chart, more specifically preventing managers from dating direct subordinates. By placing these rules, you will be helping protect your company from problems that arise when employees fraternize.

4. Encourage Disclosures.

According to legal bases, it is your right as business owner to ban relationships at the company. However, this is unlikely to stop your people from doing such an act. A more proactive approach would be drafting a policy that allows office romance with set boundaries. Attraction is natural in the workplace, but it is important to set up clear boundaries to issues related to sexual harassment. You can educate your employees on this matter, letting them know that appropriate workplace behavior is the key, and encourage them to be open about their relationships, which will reduce liability for you, as employer, if things go wrong.

You can order your HR department to require written disclosures, making the involved personnel officially state their relationship. As stated above, you can ban fraternization, but it is extremely difficult to enforce. It would seem great on paper, but it does not account for human conditions. Your employees would still date someone if they want as long as they do not display affection to let no one find out of the affair. This will not be good for anyone in the office and can disrupt productivity. So, it is best to keep HR departments and the supervisor well-informed to prevent your employees from spending all their time trying to hide their relationships.

For the disclosure document, it should state that that the employees involved knowingly entered the relationship consensually and were aware of their responsibilities and rights in terms of harassment.

5. Conduct Immediate Investigations For Workplace Affairs.

Whether your investigation is triggered by your own observations or by an employee’s complaint, follow up immediately. Choose an objective and appoint disinterested personnel from the HR or another department to serve as fact-finder who will conduct interviews with the involved employees and any other concerned colleague. If the investigation confirmed that a sexual affair has occurred in violation to your policy, you must take appropriate actions dictated by the rules. For instance, you can transfer those involved to different departments.

If the relationship is between a supervisor and a subordinate, the investigating team or personnel should inquire further to look for more inappropriate behaviors, such as the supervisor granting job perks in return for sexual favors and the subordinate being coerced.

6. Use Proper Communication When Investigating.

Do not go out of proportion when dealing with fraternization. If you sound punitive right away at the start, things can quickly deteriorate, resulting to resentment, anger and bad morale, which can extend to the entire office.

To easily diffuse such a problem, observe proper communication. Have a meeting with the people involved and tell them you are happy for them, but they need to cool it down in the workplace. Mostly, this approach would work. Make them understand that their jobs might be put on the line if they do not comply with your instructions.

7. Keep Your Involvement Performance-Based.

As business owner or manager, it is best to stay out of your employees’ personal lives as long as their relationships are not affecting their co-workers or your business. But if these workplace romances become a problem, you should address them strictly as a work-related issue. Keep meticulous records of performance issues in case termination becomes necessary. Simply put, only address them if they are affecting job performance, and keep it professional.

Conclusion

Remember that your fraternization policy should start with a statement of purpose. It should intend to avoid misunderstandings, prevent favoritism, protect your company from sexual-harassment claims and avoid loss of morale. Lastly, it should not prevent your employees from building close personal relationships with colleagues.

Dealing with Narcissism in the Workplace

The workplace is filled with a range of characters some of whom bring joy and others who are just downright toxic. It’s the latter that you should be worried about as all their energy is more than enough to sap whatever happiness it is you’re feeling. It can lead you to stress and thus not be able to function 100%.

Not being completely “in the zone” means your productivity is totally diminished. Rather than be bothered by the toxic personality of your workmates, why not learn how to work with them instead? After all, if you really want to achieve some level of success and happiness in the office, learning how to handle narcissist will help you to get there.

Narcissists are everywhere. While they tend to do well in places of power, they can also be found among your own rank. In other words, you can be dealing with a narcissistic co-worker or a narcissistic boss.

Dealing with a Narcissistic Co-Worker

Narcissists crave attention and praise. They are self-absorbed and have an inflated sense of their own importance. They don’t care about your feelings and don’t respond to criticism that well. Pressing them any further isn’t a viable option due to their inability to admit there is a problem or feel jealous over your work.

When working with a narcissistic co-worker, you’ll encounter obstacles such as:

1. Not being interested in any of your concerns. Remember that they are concerned about things that benefit them.
2. Make outrageous requests that results in flared up cases of anger due to you not doing what they want.
3. Not giving credit where credit is due.

If you do find yourself in this position, how do you deal with it?

  • Don’t try to change them.
    Talking things out is never going to work out with narcissistic personalities. Doing so will only lead to confrontations that stress you out even more as they feel their pride has been insulted.
  • Don’t take things personally.
    Narcissists need to act the way they do and as painful as it sounds, you just try and shrug off their negativity. Keep in mind that they have a problem, not you.
  • Make them feel special.
    Narcissistic people live for attention and admiration. Heap some praise on to them and such because that will keep them happy.

Dealing With a Narcissistic Boss

Working with a narcissistic boss will leave your feeling angry, frustrated and filled with self-doubt. Narcissistic personalities demand levels of perfection that are unreasonable because they see themselves as perfect and demand you be the same.

Things to expect when working with a narcissistic superior include:

  • Not acknowledging you have a life. They work long hours, so should you. Plus, they never thank you for your efforts.
  • Showing no loyalty no matter how long you’ve worked for them.
  • not being open to feedback or critique because they only want to hear good things about themselves.
  • Feeling you’ll never live up to their expectations.

How do you deal with a narcissistic boss then?

1. Forget forging a friendship.
They lack empathy and would do whatever pleases them without thinking of your interests. This will only lead you to feel betrayed when you think you’re becoming friends. Also keep in mind that when they are friendly towards you, they want something else – an idea, attention, etc.

2. Never criticize them.
Narcissists just cannot take it, and when you do try, you’ll surely be at the receiving end of an anger storm.

3. Let them make decisions.
A narcissistic personality always feels they know best. Since they want control, present options that would allow them to choose so it feels as if they are making the decision.

Narcissists may not be the most favorable people to be around at work, but knowing how to interact with them is the best course of action in order to maintain your own sanity.

Overview of a Narcissist?

A narcissist in the workplace is one of the most difficult personality types you have to deal with. At first, they seem great as they share ideas, work long hours and have high expectations. Long story short, they seem to be the superstar of the workplace.

But then you get to know them. You’ll soon realize that a narcissist only thinks about their own needs and not what’s good for the workplace. They feel as if the rules don’t apply to them and they won’t think twice about betraying people if it means advancing their interests.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – aka the bible on abnormal psychology – defines the narcissistic personality as such:

“They show a pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning in early adulthood and present in a variety of context…”

Common Traits of Narcissists

According to the manual, narcissists display the following five or more of the following traits:

  • A grandiose sense of self-importance – they exaggerate achievements and talents and they expect to be recognized as superior without equal achievements.
  • A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty or ideal love.
  • A belief that they are “special” and unique and can only be understood by or associate with other special or high-status people or institutions.
  • A need for excessive admiration.
  • A sense of entitlement – they have unreasonable expectation regarding favorable treatment or automatic compliance to their expectations.
  • An interpersonal exploitative nature – they take advantage of others in order to achieve what they want.
  • A lack of empathy and an unwillingness to identify with the feelings and needs of others.
  • A frequent feeling of envy towards others or believes that others are envious towards them.
  • An arrogant, haughty behavior or attitude.

So if you’ve ever felt like you’re working with someone crazy, it’s best to stretch your patience and understand them. It will be hard but eventually with constant practice on dealing with them, you’ll learn how to avoid being pissed off and work without being bothered.

It’s also important to understand that toxic personalities aren’t just there to intentionally make your life difficult – that’s just the way they are. We are shaped by our life experiences and their behavior is mostly a reflection of that. And working with one is sure to bring some challenges in your life.

Based on studies, about 80% of professionals deal with someone who has some kind of personality disorder, which can lead to an increased amount of stress. The different types of tough employees workers can deal with vary from one list to another, but there’s a good chance that narcissists always make the list.

Proper Phone Etiquette in the Workplace

Whether you are working in a call center or an office, there is the appropriate and wrong way to talk on the telephone. Remember that by using the phone, you become the face of your company, so how you do it from start to finish will leaves a good or bad impression on your customers. Making your customers disappointed may cause you to lose your business, so it is best to make sure each telephone conversation is handled with excellence.

Before Answering a Call

Before you answer a call, make sure you are prepared, which includes knowing how to use the phone or its system’s features. When there is a ring, turn away from your computer, desk or other work, and have a pen or pencil and notepad handy. Then, answering the phone promptly by the second or third ring, smile as you pick it up and project a tone that is enthusiastic, natural, attentive and respectful when greeting the caller.

Answering the Telephone

When answering the telephone at the office, it is important to use a professional greeting. Do not act like customers are the ones who have to make the call, but instead, thank them for the effort.

Instead of saying a simple “Hello,” brand calls using your company’s name. This serves two purposes:

a) It lets customers know they dialed the right number.
b) It prevents your business from appearing amateurish and unprofessional.

Include your name at the start of a call and ask the caller how you can help him. Remember that giving your first name is sufficient to make the call friendly and personable and friendly. A good example of a professional greeting is, “Thank you for calling “name of the company”. This is “name of telephone operator”. How may I assist you?”

Talking on the Telephone

In the course of the conversation, focus your entire attention on the caller and enunciate/articulate clearly, which can be done by speaking distinctly, using plain English and avoiding unnecessary jargon and acronyms. You should also use action specific words and directions, and always speak calmly, choosing your words naturally. Not to overlook anything, use all of your listening skills and follow your conversation. Listen between the words and use reflective/active listening to clarify and check for understanding.

If there is a problem, project a tone that is concerned, empathetic and apologetic.

Avoid these “5 Forbidden Phrases” while on the telephone.

1) “I don’t know” – Instead say, “That is a good question; let me find out for you” or offer to connect the caller with someone who could provide the answer.

2) “I/we can’t do that” – Instead say, “This is what I/we can do.”

3) “You’ll have to” – Instead say, “You will need to.”

4) “I need you to” or “Here’s how we can help you” – Instead say, “Just a second.” where you can instead give him a more honest estimate of how long it will take you and/or let them know what you are doing.

5) “No” – Instead, find a way to state the situation positively.

When dealing with an emotional caller who wants to vent out, you can use the “LEAPS” technique. The acronym stands for Listen (allowing the caller to vent), Empathize (acknowledging his feelings), Apologize (even if the problem is not your fault, being Positive (stay optimistic) and Solve (suggesting/generating solutions that you and the caller both agree on).

If the call involves some research, make sure to tell the person that you will call him back by a specific time. If unfortunately you do not have an answer to his query by the deadline, call him back to say, “I don’t have an answer yet, but I’m still doing research on it.” Remember that there is no excuse for not returning calls.

It is easy to sound bored, dry and monotone while talking on the telephone, so add a smile to your voice. Smiling while speaking will make you sound happy and upbeat, giving the impression to the person at the other end that you are excited to speak with him.

Putting the Caller on Hold

When talking on the telephone, it is sometimes necessary to place a caller on hold. This is done so you can transfer the call or contact another department to get some info. Many customers do not like being placed on hold, especially if it were too long, so before you hold any caller on the telephone, ask for permission. For example, you can say, “Mr. Alex, do you mind if I place you on hold?” If you do this, also make sure it will just be brief, no longer than two minutes if possible. If the hold is longer than this, then refresh the caller to let him know what is going on.

Transferring Calls

Only transfer calls when necessary, and get the information yourself. If you must do it, avoid using the word “transfer” and instead say “I am going to connect you with”. Also, do not forget to explain why you are transferring the call.

Taking Messages

First, you should identify yourself and for whom you are answering the phone. Practice political sensitivity and indicate the period of time the person will be unavailable. Write down all the important information given, including the name of the caller, his telephone number and the message. Ask for clarification if necessary and re-read what you have written down to be sure you have understood it correctly. Always assure the caller that you will deliver the message promptly.

Proper Closing

Concluding a call gives you one final opportunity to make a good impression on the caller. Although you already thanked him for calling during the greeting, do it again during the closing. Ask if there is something else you can help him with to make him feel appreciated, and not like he is bugging you. Wait for him to release the call before hanging up. This prevents you from accidentally hanging up on him.

Lastly, NEVER eat, drink or chew gum while on the phone or leave an open line and ALWAYS put a smile in your telephone voice to let your personality shine.

Preventing Slips and Falls in the Workplace

Sometimes, a momentary lapse of inattention while thinking about a problem or being distracted by an activity can happen to us, which can lead to a trip, slip or fall. A trip over an uneven surface, stumble down the stairs, etc.—an event of this nature can lead to regrettable outcomes, from bruises to extremely serious injuries. And this is just some of the situations that could happen in a workplace. So, how can you keep your office safe from trips, slips and falls?

Common Causes for Slips and Falls

First, you should know that these accidents occur because of loss of traction between the feet and the surface or inadvertent contact with fixed or movable objects. Probable causes include:

  • Dry floor with dust or powder.
  • Wet or greasy floor.
  • Freshly waxed or polished floor.
  • Even walking surfaces.
  • Loose carpet or mat.
  • Floor transitions.
  • Missing tiles and bricks.
  • Damaged or irregular steps.
  • Absence of handrails.
  • Sloped walking surface.
  • Wet, muddy and greasy shoe soles.
  • Electrical cables and cords.
  • Open desk or file cabinet drawers.
  • Broken ladder steps.
  • Gang and ramp planks with no skid-resistant surface.
  • Metal surfaces, such as construction and dock plates.
  • Weather hazards, such as ice, sleet, snow, frost, hail and rain.
  • Pine needles and wet leaves.
  • Clutter.

Now that you know the probable causes, let us go on to creating a safer environment for you and your employees.

1. Observe Good Housekeeping Practices.

Remember that safety and housekeeping go hand in hand, and if you do not observe proper housekeeping rules, you are at risk of a higher incidence of employee injuries, which can increase insurance costs and regulatory fines. On the other hand, if your office is always clean and well-organized, your overall safety program will be effective as well.

You should see proper housekeeping as a routine—an ongoing procedure that is simply done as part of your staff members’ daily performance. To create a good housekeeping program, you should plan ahead and know what should be done. It is necessary to assign specific individuals to clean up certain areas, most importantly their own stations. Make sure the implemented program will be abided by everyone.

2. Avoid Having Slippery Or Wet Surfaces.

The most frequently reported types of surface where injuries happen include sidewalks, parking lots, food preparation areas, shower stalls in residential dorms and any floor in general. Traction on surfaces (especially those outdoors) can change considerably with the weather in a way that moisture is tracked by pedestrian traffic. So, monitor traction control procedures at your facility for their effectiveness. This can include keeping surfaces clean and in good working condition, removing snow and ice (in some extreme cases, suspend the use of affected areas), using adhesive striping material, using moisture absorbent mats, displaying “wet floor” signs, using anti-skid adhesive tapes, cleaning up spills immediately and using appropriate area rugs.

3. Get Rid Of Obstacles In Walkways And Aisles.

Trip injuries are mostly caused by obstacles, pieces of equipment, material and other types of clutter in at entrance ways, stairwells, corridors and aisles, and proper housekeeping in busy work and traffic areas is still the most effective measure to control and avoid the hazards that are possibly present here. This means you need to have procedures or policies in place and allow time for cleaning. This is especially important in areas where waste or scrap metal are by-products of your operation. Check out the following for a detailed guideline for this task.

  • Keep all workstations, service areas, storage rooms and passageways clean and organized.
  • Avoid stringing cables, cords and hoses across hallways or any other designated aisle.
  • Avoid leaving files, briefcases and boxes in aisles.
  • Encourage safe work practices, such as picking up loose items from the floor and closing file cabinet drawers after use.
  • Conduct regular inspections for slip and trip hazards.

4. Maintain Proper Lighting.

Remember that poor lighting at the workplace is associated with the rise of industrial accidents. With that said, you should use proper illumination in your office’s hallways, walkways, ramps, staircases, basements, docks and construction areas. You should keep all work areas lit and clean, clear of clutter and obstruction. The areas around light switches should be clear and accessible. Encourage the habit of always turning on the lights first before entering darkened rooms, and if there are switches, cords and fixtures that need fixing, work on them ASAP.

5. Tell Your People To Wear Proper Footwear.

The shoes we wear to work can play an important role in preventing slips and falls. Their soles’ slickness and the type of heels need to be evaluated to ensure each individual is safe. Remind your employees to tie their shoelaces correctly, and whenever a fall-related injury is investigated, the shoes need to be checked to see if they have a significant contribution to the incident. Your employees should be expected to wear pairs of shoes that are appropriate for their duties.

6. Remind Your Employees To Control Their Behavior.

Well, this task can be quite difficult to execute. Naturally, human beings could let their guard down for a moment and get distracted by random thoughts or other activities. Hurrying up can result to walking too fast or running, which can increase the chances of slipping, tripping or falling. Not watching where one is going, taking shortcuts, using a mobile phone, wearing sunglasses in low-light areas, carrying material that obstructs vision and not using designated walkways are common elements in many on-the-job injuries.

By considering all the things mentioned above, you can make a safer working environment for everyone. However, it is ultimately up to each and every one of you in your office to plan, stay alert and pay attention. This way, you can avoid unnecessary costs due to industrial accidents, which you can instead spend on more important things that can help carry your business towards success.

Overcoming Negativity in the Workplace

Negative attitudes are more like the common cold. What starts with just one of your employees can soon infect others in the office causing a decline in morale, drop in performance, and decrease in productivity. Also like any cold, there is a cure. Here are some ways to effectively overcome negativity in the workplace.

1) Turn hindrances into opportunities.

You should look at negative attitudes as an opportunity for improvement. So, instead of dreading them, you can maintain your own positive behavior by controlling your response. Always remember that negativity begins with a negative self-talk—a looped message that plays repeatedly in your head to erode your confidence and darken your outlook.

2) Advocate for healthy conflicts. 

Another good step to eliminating negativity is fueling passion through heated but healthy debates. While the words “debate” and “conflict” may bring to mind negative conversations, you should know that there is a big difference between negativity and healthy, passionate conflict. With the latter, you are focused on increasing your understanding of someone else’s position, learning from one another and finding new solutions. Simply put, it is inquiring first, and advocating second.

3) Replace negative with positive self-talk.

Negative thinking can lead to self-doubt and eventually failure. Therefore, look for negative messages you have in mind or negative actions of others and try turning them into positives. This will result in positive actions and results.

4) Build relationships basing on trust.

Build relationships using enthusiasm and positive attitudes. Take note that negativity makes it difficult for you to trust others, which brings about difficulties in influencing positive change. So, if you want increased comfort levels and strong relationships, take action to build trust with your colleagues.

5) Make it a core value to be positive. 

You need something equally powerful to combat negativity. Start with the development of principles that encourage positivity into the core of your organization so that your company will be committed to operating off of hope, rather than fear. This means you have to initiate bringing on board the values optimism and the positive energy they bring. While pessimists would spend a lot of time and energy grumbling about the dangers your company is facing, you (as an optimist) should spend the same energy to seek potential solutions.

6) Keep winning people to your way of thinking.

Truth be told–the best way to win an argument is avoiding it. However, it is also good to be in an argument when handled correctly; remember that debates and disagreements are doors to positive change. When disagreements arise, make sure you show respect for other people’s opinions, never say they are wrong and try to see things from different points of view.

7) Disagree but still have your ideas heard.

The key issue we all face is how do we disagree agreeably? Well, you can do this by keeping communication lines open and trying to see things from a different perspective. Then, think hard about how the other individuals think and why they feel that way.

8) Recruit to your team eternal optimists. 

In building your team, you should hire people who represent positive qualities that are valuable for a company or those who are upbeat at heart. Fix your sight on candidates who can engage in a healthy conflict, yet can remain optimistic and believe they can solve the problem.

To make the right recruitment decisions and identify potential red flags, make eternal optimism a core value. By doing so, you will be more likely to find the right kind of kindred spirits to promote your mission. Leave less to chance by incorporating personality assessments into your hiring process.

9) Advocate for complete transparency.

When people feel that they are forbidden to know what’s going on behind the scenes at your company, it can lead to disengagement and dysfunction. As a leader, you avoid being in this scenario by providing radical, complete transparency throughout your organization, diffusing early seeds of negativity. Before letting imaginations run wild and situations fester, provide communication channels to foster better understanding of key issues.

10) Encourage everyone to innovate.

By empowering individuals to innovate and foster change at your company, you can bust negativity. As a leader, you should learn to let go and provide autonomy. If you integrate employee empowerment into your organizational culture, you will be able to counteract negativity by placing the tools in your people’s hands and letting them change things that bother them the most.

11) Take the time to relax at work. 

Quashing would-be haters from your group will help you build an opportunity to have fun in the workplace. Whether it is a holding holiday party during a workday that go all out, a catering weekly lunch where people can socialize on the company’s dime or a monthly happy hour that begins at 4pm, integrating a chance for play within work will build trust among colleagues and foster healthy relationships.

12) Cut bad apples loose. 

When you think about what is in the middle of negativity, it is definitely about individuals who do not offer solutions. They are people who focus only on the problems and not on how to work through and solve them. They can be like grenade throwers in your company, who drop bombs around and blowing things up, leaving others to fix the damage they have done. Take note that they are poison to your work environment, so you have to create a strategy to deal with them. If anything else fails, you should let go of these kinds of people.

For employees in the lower ranks, they should immediately alert their leader if they see someone bringing negativity into the culture.

By following the above-mentioned tips, overcoming negativity in the office will be more of a breeze. However, this does not mean you can fully shut the door on negativity, because it is just normal for a company to have a few individuals with little pessimism in their minds. Well, you can take this as an opportunity to let positive efforts flourish unimpeded. Now, it will be easier for you to carry your business towards success.

11 Examples of Workplace Morale Boosters

Does it seem like your employees are dragging themselves into work? Are happy moments in the office only a vague memory? If so, morale among your people definitely needs a boost.

It is important to remember that low employee morale can lead to poor cooperation, low productivity, and an increased turnover in your team. This will eventually hinder your business from reaching its goals. Workplace morale requires constant oversight and the participation of all managers and leaders throughout the organization. Here are some effective approaches you can follow that will strengthen morale among your employees.

1) Alter your company’s usual way of doing things

One effective way towards building morale is departing from the traditional routine of cubicle life and meetings. You can do this by using the concept of neighborhoods to shake things up. Organize your people based on the floors or sections of your office, allowing each group to have regular get-togethers and shape the contours of the sessions.

2) Train your employees to develop positive attitudes

This task is very important, especially when times get rough. With the help of training professionals, you can decide on a program that would perfectly suit your needs. A good example is with establishing classes for your employees where they can watch and discuss films with themes that inspire them. Such as the friendly culture of Southwest Airlines or a famous athlete’s come back from cancer.

3) Give your employees a reason to believe

Your staff is part of something bigger than themselves, but most of the time, they do not realize this. From the beginning point of their first interview, every employee should understand and be allowed to share in the vision of what they are doing as an organization. This single approach contributes greatly to your employee’s motivation and inspiration, greatly affecting your company’s future growth.

4) Take time to creatively celebrate accomplishments

Of course, it is natural for you to focus on your business’s future, rather than reflecting on how much you have achieved. However, the latter helps your employees with appreciating how much they have done, which makes them feel good about themselves. You can take some time recognizing their work by providing a list of significant achievements of each team. You can then review the list and offer rewards for those on the top.

5) Learn the value of fringe

Your company may not be in a good place to offer competitive full-benefit packages, but you will be amazed of how far a few inexpensive benefits can go with your staff. It can be as simple as a massage per month, a monthly wellness allowance for any needs related to health or healthy food options during meetings. Whatever it is you are giving, as long as it can benefit them, it will be a very effective morale booster.

6) Offer some time away from the office to do some good

Another way to build employee morale and camaraderie is to let your people do community service. For example, you can give each employee 5 paid hours a month to volunteer in a charitable organization or initiative of their choice. You can also do this by department. As a result, they will feel great about doing something for other people and bring this positive feeling to work, increasing their level of happiness and willingness to do more for your company.

7) Grant your employees time off to engage in projects they are interested in

Granting your employees the ability to do personal projects can provide them with an energizing break from their regular office responsibilities and can serve as a good source of innovation for your company. You can do this for certain special events that will allow them to be creative and work on anything that will excite them. However, make sure that the things they do are still related to what your business is offering. By doing so, you will get an opportunity to adopt such projects for your bottom line.

8) Do not forget to have some fun

You should consider fun as a regular part of your employees’ daily schedule. You can invite them to play in a monthly game day or an in-house competition that involves activities, which can include Wii game matches or any leisure activities that still encourage competitiveness. Or, you can offer quarterly fun rewards for staff members who have achieved certain goals, like casino nights, hockey games or days at an amusement park. You can also opt for a team-building event, which is proven to yields great results among employees.

9) Encouraging your employees that their work is more than just a job

Remember that each and every one of your employees wants to feel that his/her work has a higher purpose. However, this purpose sometimes gets forgotten in the daily grind. One good way to avoid this and inspire them is sharing a story that elaborates the value of their work. You can source good stories from circulated emails from grateful job-seekers who managed to land a job that they really wanted.

10) Do internal promotions

When your people see that there is room for their careers to advance within your organization, they will be motivated to perform more and will even have second thoughts about leaving. So, find out what talents and skills the different members of your staff have and seek ways to develop them for your business’ future. When you have an employee who excels, invest in training him/her to be able to help grow your company.

11) Show that you care

You can do this in a million ways. For example, you should recognize every one of your employees’ birthday or send gifts to newlyweds or those having a baby. By being involved in your employees’ lives, you are letting them feel loved and valued not just as workers, but also members of the family and human beings.

By putting in mind these approaches in handling your team, you can boost their morale and ultimately carry your business towards success.

How to Handle Workplace Bullies

Some people are mean by nature, while others just choose to be jerks. But no matter how they came to be, they have one thing in common—they like to hurt other people physically and emotionally to make themselves feel more important or powerful. While a good deal of action has been made to solve bullying in school, this has not been the case for offices. So, how do you deal with bullies at work?

1) Initiate a professional confrontation

Before you take any official step, you should have a conversation with the person who has been bullying you. Tell him that his behavior is affecting you and firmly request for him to stop. Maybe he just thinks he was being funny or does not realize that he is acting unprofessionally. And if you do go on to report his actions to your superior, make sure it has been recorded that you already tried speaking with him directly.

2) Determine where the aggression is coming from

Find out why your colleague is taking his aggression out on you. Remember that powerful people are often seen behaving aggressively towards those who are less powerful when their competence is questioned. Also, talented people can become victims of bullying; people who are well-liked and skilled are most frequent targets because bullies see them as a threat to their positions. With this in mind, it may be helpful for you to strike your aggressor’s ego.

Research also found out that low levels of bullying can be stopped by showing gratitude to the aggressor. If you are a subordinate, you can offer your gratitude to your boss, and it will wipe out the effect. Remember that even small actions can help, like complimenting him for something he did well.

3) Stand up for yourself

According to a bullying expert, it is important to have a balance between not being threatening and not being a doormat, which just encourage more aggression. So, when a colleague’s behavior towards you is unacceptable, call it out immediately. Do not allow him to call you names or treat you poorly. Stand up for yourself and be articulate and strong. Make immediate corrections.

So, whenever an individual starts doing demeaning and disrespectful antics towards you, even if there are other people around, do not let it slide—even once! However, remember to do it professionally with appropriate words.

4) Do not put the blame on yourself, but review your actions

Bullying is never acceptable, but it is also the same with accepting blame for being a victim. Nevertheless, it is always a good idea to be aware of how other people perceive you. In a highly competitive environment like the office, not many will prioritize politeness.

One way to do this is asking a confidant how most of your co-workers feel how you treat them. If there is a behavior you have that is being misinterpreted, to which the aggressor is overreacting, stop it. This does not mean you are blaming yourself, but a good way to avoid aggression from others.

5) Keep solid records

Before you file an official complaint, make sure each incidence of the bullying has been documented. Do not forget to include the times and dates of each account and identify eyewitnesses who can support your claims. You should also keep copies of digital or written correspondence you have had with your colleague.

6) Report the incidents and file a complaint

Generally, it is best to discuss the accounts of bullying with your direct superior first, before talking to the senior management or the human resource department. Tell your boss that you would like to continue performing your job, but you cannot do it properly if the aggression continues.

If the bully in question is your superior, then you can speak with the HR department first about how to proceed with your actions the best way. And again, keep detailed records of all correspondence between you and the department, including its responses. If you end up taking actions legally, you will need such documents as evidence of your complaint and how your company handled it.

7) Build good relationships

If you do not have acquaintances, alliances or friends at the office, make them. Build good relationships with peers and other people above and below, so they can become your champions and advocates. It is good to have colleagues who will support you in your corner.

If you can handle the aggression informally, just keep it between yourselves. But if there is any threat of violence involved, do not forego telling your superior or the HR.

8) Consult a lawyer specializing in employment law

If your company was not able to solve your problem after speaking with the HR or management and formally filing a complaint, you should seek legal advice and, possibly, representation. If you are a member of a protected class, ask whether there are discrimination laws that can be applied to your case.

9) Know that there are limitations

Remember that you cannot control someone else’s actions. If you are in an outright abusive situation, find ways to stop it but know there are limitations. If your leader does not take charge, you should leave, if possible. Just put in your mind that taking the high road with irrational people is a win, and you lose if you let them elicit an aggressive reaction from you.

10) Make a break-down of the incidents’ cost to business

During the time when your superior and HR are involved, do not focus on what your bully did or said, unless it is emotionally scarring or violent. The last thing you would need to do is to start a “he-said/she-said” argument. Just discuss how the incidents are affecting performance and morale and do not tell a story of emotional wounds. Instead, start a conversation that the aggressor is costing the organization money.

Office bullies might be scary, embarrassing, shocking and far too often tolerated, but there are many ways you can deal with them. The tips mentioned above are actually just some of them.