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Banish Behaviors That Drain Your Team's Energy

By: Jon Gordon
Posted: March 28, 2011, from the April 2011 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

Most people wrongly assume that their tasks and responsibilities are what’s grinding them down. The real culprit is often the negativity of the people you work with and for, their constant complaining, and the pessimistic culture that is now the norm in a lot of workplaces.

Following are the top seven draining behaviors, as well as tips for how you can make a change for the better in each of these situations.

1. The energy vampire attack

DON’T: Let negativity become your go-to response. There’s nothing more draining than a boss or co-worker who is constantly negative.

DO: Respond constructively. Let employees and co-workers know that when they come to you with their ideas, they’ll be heard with an open mind and received with respect. Insist that everyone else practice positivity as well.

2. The out-of-control complain train

DON’T: Give in to the temptation to whine. It’s a well-known phenomenon that can have catastrophic consequences: One person’s complaint resonates with someone else, who then proceeds to add grievances to the pile.

DO: Push for solutions. The next time a water-cooler conversation threatens to barrel out of control into Complaint Central, step in and ask the complainees how they would make things better. Better yet, ban complaints altogether.

3. The busy bee bamboozle

DON’T: Confuse activity with progress. You know the person—she’s always so busy, but doesn’t ever seem to get anything done.

DO: Set goals and be accountable for results. These results should be ones that matter, and that are visible and valuable to your team. It can be helpful to transition to a day-to-day plan that will help everyone stay on the right track.

4. The low-performer look-away

DON’T: Let sub-par work slide. Simply put, low-performers drag the rest of the team down.

DO: Institute a zero-tolerance policy for low-performers. If one person consistently misses the bar, then you need to take swift action. Let your employees know that you value their hard work and that you will not allow others to do less and get away with it.

5. The unclear communiqué

DON’T: Assume others have all the information they need. These hastily drawn conclusions that result from chronic poor communication can lead to serious mistakes and major missed opportunities. Plus, lack of clarity is incredibly frustrating to those who must work with you.

DO: Make sure that the right people are in the know. Whether it’s letting your boss know that a client’s daughter is getting married (so she can call in congratulations) or telling a co-worker that a vendor prefers to be contacted only via e-mail, be sure to tell the appropriate people. You’ll set your entire team up for success and ensure that your clients get the service they deserve.

6. The unattainable atta-girl

DON’T: Forget to acknowledge what’s happening now. When responsibilities give you to-do tunnel vision and cause you to skimp on the “job well dones,” employees can get discouraged in a hurry—especially if you immediately ask about another goal that’s gone unmet or push more work at them.

DO: Express appreciation when appropriate. Employees need to know that the boss can be satisfied. If, like a hamster running in a wheel, an employee feels as though no amount of hard work or hours spent will ever garner approval, her energy and self-motivation will be zapped.

7. The blame game

DON’T: Point fingers. If your co-workers don’t think you shoulder your share of the blame or are unapproachable when it comes to constructive criticism, they’ll start to shut down toward you.

DO: Accept responsibility. Owning up to your mistakes and learning from them are big parts of working together and being successful. If you make a mistake, be the first to own up to it and try to do things differently in the future.

Jon Gordon is a consultant, keynote speaker, and the international best-selling author. He and his books have been featured on CNN and on NBC’s Today show, as well as in Forbes, Fast Company and others. A graduate of Cornell University, he holds a master’s degree in teaching and works with numerous businesses, professional sports teams, schools, universities, and nonprofit organizations.