12 Little Ways Managers Foster Negativity

Close up of street sign --- Image by © Fotog/Tetra Images/CorbisToday’s work environment, in the struggling economic recovery, is fraught with pressures and workloads that are unique to the times and affect all of us. It is in this environment that each of us must choose how we’ll prioritize and manage each day, week, month and year.

Stepping back, we all know that as Managers we set the tone for the work environment, shaping the culture by what we do and how we do it. But, in the heat of the workday, we sometimes underestimate or lose sight of our impact, and allow ourselves to react in ways that can undermine the positive impact we want to make on our organizations. It can be easy for us as human beings to fall into a narrowed, case-by-case perspective as we move through our workdays, in which we decide it’s ok for us to show our feelings, rather than managing our responses for the greater good. Further, as leaders during such challenging economic times, we often delay vacations, which exacerbates our fatigue and inevitably impacts our ability to apply big picture thinking.

But, as leaders, we need to be ever-vigilant about building and sustaining attitudes that promote a positive and energized spirit among the people around us. We are always leading, and we are always sending messages that impact how people feel. And, it’s feelings that drive performance. Let us remind ourselves and one another of the impact we have as we make even the smallest of choices and form our own work habits day by day.

Following are some examples of behaviors that can dilute or dry up positive energy in people to adversely impact organization performance, short or long term.

1. Multi-task when someone is talking to you individually or at a group meeting.

2. Interrupt or re-schedule employee one-on-ones for phone calls, people walking in, or conflicting meetings you allow to take precedent.

3. Roll your eyes, use sarcasm, make negative comments or display anger, frustration or disrespect for an employee, peer, customer or senior manager.

4. Don’t stand up for one of your people.

5. Allow a member of your team to be bullied by one of your peers who is powerful politically.

6. Deliver performance reviews at the last minute or after the company deadline.

7. Include negative feedback on a performance review without having given the employee opportunity to correct it during the performance period.

8. Practice “exception management”: focus primarily on employee missteps rather than on recognizing (and leveraging) employee strengths.

9. Withhold assignments that offer positive visibility from a newer employee while providing such opportunities to long term, favorite employees.

10. Micro-manage your people.

11. Share information on a need-to-know basis.

12. Forget to provide an employee with information or support required for his success.


Chances are, most of us have exhibited some of these behaviors ourselves. Which have you observed in yourself or others? What additional behaviors would you add to this list? What are your ideas to help managers to foster a positive, high performance environment?

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.