10 Negative Habits That Ruin Business Morale

Does your business have “drainers” – people whose negativity drains everyone else’s energy and drags your business down? Or, worse yet, are you a “drainer” yourself?

“Nobody sets out to be a drainer,” notes Jon Gordon, a business “attitude” consultant who works with businesses, professional sports teams, universities and other organizations. “It’s just that some people regularly, and inadvertently, exhibit energy-draining behaviors. Many business owners allow it to continue, or are themselves guilty of the same behavior. And over time, the entire culture of the business becomes poisoned.”

Here are the top business energy drains, and what you can do to fix them:

  • Squelch negativity:  There’s nothing more draining than boss, business owner or employee who’s constantly negative. Don’t let negativity be your go-to response. Respond constructively when others offer ideas.  Even if the suggestions are off the mark, hear them out. An encouraging attitude keeps creative juices flowing. Remember, as pessimism rises, performance drops.
  • Halt the complain train: The temptation to whine can be powerful, but whining is infectious and before you know it, everyone is complaining about something. Instead, push for solutions. When you hear a complaint, ask the complainer how it should be fixed. Turn your employees into problem solvers instead of problem sharers.
  • Ban critical email and voicemail: Nine times out of ten, the critical email you send ends up sounding harsher to the other person than you ever intended. Suck it up and conduct your toughest talks in person. You’ll be able to ensure that your tone is not misinterpreted and have a constructive dialog with the other person.
  • Avoid the Monday morning load-up: Don’t overwhelm your employees with a mountain of emails or lengthy to-do lists before the week is even underway.  Boil down and bundle your orders, and parse them out in steps. Flag the ones you consider most important so others know where to start first.
  • Spot the busy bee bamboozle:  Don’t confuse activity with progress.  And that applies to you as well as your employees. Just getting through daily routines can make anyone appear busy. But that’s not progress. Set goals and hold yourself and your employees accountable for results.  Make sure these are results that matter and that are visible to others and valuable to your business.
  • Seek complete communication clarity: It’s amazing how the simple condition of “clarity” contributes to a positive vibe.   When people are clear on where the business is going, and what they need to do, they are free to be positive and productive. When employees are stuck trying to track you down for clarification, productivity and creativity suffer.
  • Get your organization act together: Being disorganized is a drag for everyone. Sure, some things fall through the cracks when you’re busy, but chronic disorganization is a disease that drains others who have to cover your tracks.
  • Don’t sacrifice quality for expediency: When there’s a lot of work to do, there’s a tendency to hastily clear your plate, either by cutting corners or passing the buck to others. Taking the time you need to do the job right sets up your employees and the rest of your business for success, and encourages others to take on projects with confidence and energy.
  • Recognize real-time success: Don’t get so caught up in what’s to come later than you forget to acknowledge what’s happening now. Employees don’t need applause at every turn, but they do need to know that you can be satisfied, and that they aren’t just hamsters running in a wheel.
  • Set zero tolerance for low performance:  “Simply put,” says Jon Gordon, “low performers drag the rest of your team down. They create resentment and generate more work for everyone else. And if you let them linger for too long, your best employees will move on. Hold everyone accountable for achieving their goals and meeting performance standards. If someone constantly misses the bar, take action.

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship.

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