Drainers at Work

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With increased workloads and smaller staffs, many employees are having to take on more daily assignments and responsibilities. But it may not be the new projects causing stress and fatigue. Instead, the source could be negative attitudes and behavior present in your office’s environment.

“Most people wrongly assume that their tasks and responsibilities are what’s grinding them down,” says Jon Gordon, author of Soup: A Recipe to Nourish Your Team and Culture. “However, while ‘work’ is a convenient scapegoat, 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.”

Do you have “drainers” in your company? According to Gordon, a drainer is a boss, co-worker, employee or client who “sucks the life and energy right out of you.” Managers should be aware of these types of workers — their pessimism will spread through the company. Turning a negative attitude into a positive outlook will help to create a more productive and happy working environment. Gordon identifies the top “draining” actions in the workplace and how to respond:

“The energy vampire attack.” Their first response is negative. They are not happy and hardly ever support other’s ideas. They would rather give up before trying. Be open to your co-workers’ suggestions and stress an encouraging atmosphere.

“The out-of-control complain train.”
One complaint can lead to whining and complaining. Then the whole group has a negative attitude. Try to turn the situation into a more optimistic atmosphere by asking for suggestions to improve the problem.

“The vicious voice mail or e-mail.” Avoid leaving cruel or abrasive messages on voice mail or sending them as an e-mail. It is easier to express yourself over the phone or in person. E-mails are more permanent and can be misinterpreted by the receiver. When you speak to the worker, you can add a positive spin by including constructive criticism.

“The loaded Monday morning inbox.” Don’t start out the week with an endless amount of e-mails. A worker will become stressed out after returning from the weekend. Try to send fewer e-mails by including as many details as possible in one message. Flag the e-mails that contain the most important information.

“The low performer look-away.”
Pinpoint the workers who are doing the least amount of work. Laziness and lack of motivation will cause bitterness, as others have to take on bigger workloads. Place the same goals and performance principles on all employees. Hold low performers accountable if their assignments aren’t getting done.

“The unclear communiqué.”
Be sure to clearly communicate responsibilities and tasks. Don’t waste time trying to get further clarifications. Be sure to include the correct people in e-mail messages and respond to voice mails in a timely manner.

“The disorganization drag-down.” Take the time to be more organized
in order to know where to find the proper documents. Being in a constant mess makes it harder to locate sales numbers or other important information.

“The hasty plate clean-off.”
Quality should be preferred over quantity. If you are rushing through your assignments, you are most likely giving more work to the next person. Mistakes occur more often when you are trying to finish as quickly as possible. Slow down and do your best. In the long run, it will take more time to correct your mistakes.

“The chronic deadline dodge.”
Something is wrong if workers are missing deadlines on a consistent basis. They may be overwhelmed. In order to keep productivity moving smoothly, create reasonable and realistic deadlines that can be met.

“The blame game.”
Don’t blame others for your mistakes. Please accept that you made a mistake and remember to handle the situation differently in the future. Be willing to listen to other ideas. You might learn a more beneficial method.

“As pessimism rises, performance decreases,” says Gordon. “You have
to encourage optimism and guard against pessimism, or your team
will suffer.”