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How to Handle Negativity and Develop a Team with Positive Attitudes

September 15th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I have worked for many years in the corporate world leading top notch sales teams.  I have, also, had the opportunity to develop entrepreneurial sales teams.  One thing that I have found to be true with both is, working with people with a positive attitude is huge!  I have had people tell me that watching for this particular trait in potential team mates is not important, “it doesn’t get the job done.” I, personally, believe the opposite is true.

A bad attitude will doom whatever a person is attempting to make happen.  Whether it is an entrepreneurial career or a corporate position, you won’t accomplish anything great and long-lasting by being negative.  Can someone be positive 24/7/365?  Doubtful.  But, those that strive to be positive will always have a leg  up on everything they do.

As leaders, we will encounter many different personality types and stages of personal growth in the people on our teams.  It is up to the leader to set the pace and keep the entire team upbeat and positive.

In a group session, complainers should never be encouraged.  One complaint can lead to another and another.  There is nothing worse, and will derail progress, than to have a strategy session turn into one big gripe fest.  Here are a few tips that I found worked for me.

1.  Let the team know what is expected of them.  Let them know, a positive attitude is something that is highly valued and expected.  Praise and reward positive attitudes.  Nothing speaks louder to a team than praise and recognition.  Praise and recognition can be as simple as saying something positive about them in front of the team.

2.  Deflect negative attitudes by not giving them a voice in a group session.  If a negative attitude is presented saying to that individual, “this is something that you and I can talk about after the meeting”.  Stick to it and give them a private meeting behind closed doors.  Let your team know you are there to help with legitimate complaints, but if it is just plain old gripes, give them words of encouragement that they can deal with it, and move on.

3.  When someone, continually, presents negative comments to fellow team members, a coaching session is needed.  Have a one-on-one talk with them about how important it is for the team to pass negatives up to the team leader and only positives to the team.  If someone continues, after coaching sessions, to present a negative attitude to the team it might be worth considering removing their presence from the team.  To understand this better, I highly recommend Jon Gordon’s book “The Energy Bus”.

4.  It will happen, some one’s stressful home life will bleed over into the work environment.  They may look to you for help, especially if they have learned to pass negatives up and only positives to the team.  Unless the team leader is a marriage and family counselor, it is best not to tread into those waters.  I had to learn this the hard way.  I am an empathetic person and a good listener, but left unchecked it quickly becomes a quagmire.  It becomes the topic they want to talk about all the time.  I handled it by saying, “I understand what you are saying, but I know you are going to get this straightened out.” Maybe, suggest a professional counselor.

I can’t stress it enough, it starts with each of us.  We have to be the role models.  Go out every day with the desire to develop a positive winning attitude.   See yourself as a success, doing something you’re excited about!  See yourself as someone special…a winner!

Leave me a comment and let me know what works for your team.  🙂

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