“I was just made a manager in my department. While I’m happy to get a promotion, one of the people I oversee is notoriously negative and attacks his coworkers for no reason. How do I manage this situation?” — Mario from Omaha, NE
At some point in our career, we have all dealt with employees, co-workers, or clients who seem to hold onto damaging beliefs or continually sabotage team progress with negative behavior. Over time, this negative behavior infects the morale of the team and may spill over into the entire organization. To help you manage and work better with those individuals, there are three powerful “F” words that you may find useful in future conversations.
No worries, all three of them are appropriate to use in any environment!
First, it is important to remember that no matter HOW people behave, the motivation for that behavior may not be clearly understood. Dr. Victor Vroom, a recognized expert on employee motivation, suggests that the way to better understand the motivation behind one’s negative behavior is to listen and show empathy where appropriate.
Second, it is important to remember that unsolicited advice is easily interpreted as an attack that might cause others to become more defensive than grateful.
If you have ever begun a conversation or introduced a nugget of advice by saying, “You know what you SHOULD do is…,” you know that approach is seldom is successful. Instead of “shoulding” all over somebody, and creating an uncomfortable distance because they are offended, proud or spiteful, consider the Feel, Felt, Found alternative.
Let’s use a few examples:
Topic: Policy Change
I can understand why you might feel that the new policy seems unfair. Some of my other employees felt the same way. However, when they saw what a difference it made by allowing us all to benefit, they found it was a really good move.
Topic: Overall Department Change
Now that I’ve heard you, I can understand why you feel that way. To be honest I felt the same when it came to changing. However I’ve now found that this new way works much better than the old way.
Topic: General Negative Behavior
Thanks for sharing how you feel. You’re not alone, at times I felt the same way in other situations. But I found that talking it out with someone I trust, helped me see my situation in a different way.
Managing your team involves more than just doing the right things. Often times, it is saying the right things, at the right times, to the right people, that has the greatest impact on team performance.No matter what the behavior or belief, using Feel, Felt and Found as a management tool can open the door for you to listen attentively and share your perspective without sounding preachy or too critical.