If you've ever had to let someone go because of a negative attitude, you probably got a response from the rest of the team that was something like, "What took you so long?" One negative person can bring down an entire workforce. When that person walks into the front door, the feeling they bring with them is almost palpable, you can feel it. It's like a fog that causes dampened spirits in everyone.
A case study
In one company I consulted for, they had an individual who — though he was very important to the company and doing a highly detailed task — was a misanthrope. This individual did not like people, and people did not like him. Through some quality brainstorming, we came up with an idea that was a little off-beat, but seemed to serve everyone well.
The CEO decided to clean out a storage closet, and put in a desk and computer so that this individual could have his own office. He would come in to the office in the morning carrying his lunch, go into his office, close the door behind him and leave at the end of the day. He was happy because he had an office of his own, and the staff was happy because they no longer had to contend with his negativity.
Whether you have to let someone go, or find them a place where they won't interfere with the rest of your team, I urge you to "sooner rather than later" remove negative individuals from your workplace.
Implement fun experiences
Keeping the energy high and incorporating fun takes a little thought, but there are many simple and inexpensive ways to do this. Every now and then, bring in something different and uplifting for your team, like an ice cream cart, a popcorn machine, or a cappuccino maker [you may actually want to keep this one].
Bowling parties, outdoor meetings, retreats held in unusual are other ways to uplift people and get them thinking outside the box. It also builds that esprit de corps, the team spirit that seems to fade away during difficult economic times. It doesn't take much thought and usually doesn't cost much money to help people have a good time. Even something as simple as "Hawaiian Shirt Day" can turn a slow quarter into a positive attitude for the next quarter.
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