Dr Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip — 8 Secrets of A Healthy Workplace and Resilient Workers

When someone asks what you do for a living, how do you respond? Is there excitement and enthusiasm in your voice? Or do you sound down, defeated, and disillusioned?

Too many people …  and too many workplaces … fall into the second category. They’ve let the negativity of others get into them and they begin to sink. Just like a battleship.

In good times, the battleship floats across the water, but if the water gets inside the battleship, it begins to sink.

Well, you don’t have to sink … and neither does your workplace … if you follow a few preventative or corrective practices.

► PREVENTATIVE PRACTICE #1: HIRE RIGHT (or train right).

As you all know, one bad apple can spoil the whole cart. But you also know it’s easier to get a bad apple (or bad employee) than get rid of one. So approach every hiring decision with the utmost discernment.

In particular, focus your energy on recruiting, selecting, and retaining people who are technically skilled and emotionally competent. In fact, they had better have both characteristics or you will have a sick workplace.

When you’re in the position of having to hire someone, look for ANY signals that tell you the new job candidate may be a drag on the positive culture you’re trying to create. You cannot afford to hire those kinds of people … because they will cost you money, rather than make you money.

In fact, I’m sure you can think of several situations where you walked into a store to buy something, totally ready to spend your money there, but some employee’s behavior was so offensive that you walked out. And instead, you spent your money at a competitor’s place of business.

Hire right.  And for heaven’s sake, if the people you hire don’t have all the people skills they need, then train them right … right now.

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PREVENTATIVE PRACTICE #2: PROTECT YOUR POSITIVE NORMS.

If your organization has established certain norms of respectful behavior, reinforce those norms.

If, for example, employees are expected to acknowledge every customer within 10 seconds of entering the store, make sure they do it. Or if you have outlawed negative talk about customers, call someone on his violation of the norm if he is trashing a customer.

Don’t let your negative people dismiss your positive cultural elements by saying, “That’s just plain stupid … or … That’s just the way John is.”

PREVENTATIVE PRACTICE #3: DISCOVER AND SHARE SUCCESS STORIES.

Everyone knows the gripes that go around the office. But you’re also doing a lot of things right. Charge everyone with the responsibility of looking for those success stories. And then share a few of those stories at every meeting. Celebrate the positive.

PREVENTATIVE PRACTICE #4: SURFACE AND DEFUSE NEGATIVITY.

No matter how positive, productive, and profitable your organization is, it is not perfect. There are problems and there will always be problems in your organization.

Don’t ignore them. And don’t pretend they don’t exist. As best-selling author and psychologist Dr. Sidney Simon says, “The greatest danger in any relationship is to pretend not to know what we know.”

In other words, you can’t expect to bury the problems and have them somehow magically disappear. When you bury problems, you bury them alive, and the rate of resurrection is almost 100%.

Instead, create a forum where people can safely share their concerns. Take their feelings seriously. Listen intently. And decide on one or two things that can be done to address their concerns.

Now these first four practices are preventative in nature. In other words, they prevent negativity from getting into or taking over your workplace.

But if the negativity is already there, and if you’re feeling some of it, you should take some of these corrective measures.

CORRECTIVE MEASURE #1: NOTICE WHAT ZAPS YOUR ENERGY.

Write down the specific tasks or job situations that drain you. You might not feel supported by your boss or feel betrayed by a team mate who is not doing her share of the work.

CORRECTIVE MEASURE #2: CONQUER ONE ENERGY-ZAPPING ISSUE AT A TIME.

Brainstorm small immediate steps you can take to maintain or recapture your energy at work. And then baby-step it.

Start with a simple issue … where an easy victory is likely … such as greeting a particular grouch in your department each morning, rather than let him ignore and discount you.

Once you’ve built some confidence and skill in one area, move on to a more challenging issue — such as your boss giving you ten projects at once, with no sense of their priority.

CORRECTIVE MEASURE #3: GO FOR WHAT ENERGIZES YOU.

You probably like some tasks more than others. See if you can get more of those tasks assigned to you. And you probably like some coworkers more than others. See if you can work on more projects with those people.

Even if you can’t get more of the things that energize you, you can always fill your mind with positive, powerful sayings that will inspire you. It’s not silly.  Every gold-medal winner in the Olympics does it.

CORRECTIVE MEASURE #4: REALIZE WHEN IT’S TIME TO MOVE ON.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to reverse the negativity in your work situation. Nothing works.  Your career stalls, or even starts to go backwards, or your mental health is at stake.

When nothing works, don’t take it personally or blame others. Just make the decision to move on. I’ve noticed that the vast majority of people who do so do just fine.

Dr. Zimmerman’s Tuesday Tip, Issue 991– 8 Secrets of A Healthy Workplace and Resilient Workers