Managing Workplace Negativity

November 21st, 2008

Managing Workplace Negativity, by Gary S. Topchik, Amacom, 2001 - I got the book from the Columbus Public Library.

It is a good book. He describes problems at a workplace that can be caused by negativity:

  • Work is constantly criticized by others - definitely - I’ve seen this take a major toll

  • Job security is lacking

  • Good work is seldom praised or recognized - This is major

  • Individuals work in isolation from others

  • Destructive conflicts exist between departments

  • Supervision is poor - No answer for when the boss doesn’t supervise things

  • Opportunities for advancement or growth are small

  • Top management decisions are not trusted

  • Stress levels are too high or too low - Stress can make employees ill - usually the gut

  • Departments are constantly being reorganized - I’ve seen this happen

  • Fear of change is high

  • Job fits are poor - Not much one can do when the boss hires office workers without the needed skills. * Ample resources are lacking

  • Working conditions are poor

The effects of negativity he says can lead to the following outcomes:

  • Increased customer complaints

  • Increased error rates and a lessening of work quality - definitely

  • Increased turnover - I found out why the office staff only stayed for about 2 years

  • Increased absences and lateness

  • Increased personality conflicts - absolutely

  • Loss of morale and motivation

  • Loss of loyalty to the organization - definitely

  • Loss of creativity and innovation

  • Loss of a competitive spirit

He discusses the problems quite well and has many solutions.

The problem I had with negative bosses was not addressed much. Unfortunately, he says when the problem is the boss there are no answers.

He is right when he says that negative people believe there is nothing wrong with their behavior. My ex-boss would say that she just has “high expectations”. But the constant picking at people was making those employees ill. One employee had to quit when she started coughing up blood. Luckily she found a job soon afterwards and her new employer is wonderful. Her health problem disappeared rapidly once she left. Another employee was getting sick to her gut from all the stress at work. It affected me, too. I wasn’t the one being picked on but my attitude towards work deteriorated substantially. The employees were all relaxed until the boss arrived. Things remained tense until she left.

I also experienced a negative workplace that was created by the lack of positive feedback. Everything was expected to be perfect so no positive comments were made. But when something was done wrong…

I do recommend the book but it has no answers about what to do about a negative boss other than look for another job or do what you can to de-stress to keep it from affecting you.