The Key to a Productive Work Environment: Keep It Positive
There is no want of tips to achieve greater workplace productivity. Simply type it into the Amazon.com search engine and you’ll see 2,701 results for books alone. And never mind all the “productivity” software you can load up on. But the bedrock of productivity isn’t software or books; it’s people: productive people. And one of the hallmarks of a productive person is a positive attitude. The most productive people are the ones who carry a positive outlook into work every day.
Anyone responsible for hiring (and firing) needs to recognize who the productive people are. It can be tougher than you think, because positive people don’t always wear it on their sleeves. It’s much easier to recognize the ones who aren’t so productive, because they’re often the ones who exhibit negative attitudes. Imagine how much more productive your workplace could be if you could avoid these people:
The Victim is someone who sees problems as personal persecutions rather than challenges to overcome. “Can you believe what they want us to do now?” says The Victim, “And how fast they want it done? I don’t get paid enough for this. The boss is clueless.” Sure, we all complain sometimes. But The Victim has turned it into an art form. The Victim is persecuted by people, processes, the ventilation system—pretty much everything. That’s because he isn’t looking for solutions; he’s looking for problems. Worse yet, The Victim’s negativity tends to infect the entire workplace. He sows discord and discontent wherever he goes.
Avoid The Victim at all costs. A productive team demands problem solvers.
The Blamer takes responsibility for nothing, but can always find someone else to blame for any perceived catastrophe. Interestingly, she may also take credit for any successes that occur in her vicinity, whether or not she’s involved. You may hear The Blamer saying something like: “Okay, this isn’t right. Who’s responsible?” The problem with The Blamer isn’t only that she’s apt to anger anyone on the receiving end of her blame, but that she avoids worthy challenges for fear of failure and, of course, any blame for her. She can be counted on to play it safe, even when circumstances call for calculated risk taking. And you can be sure no one wants to be on a team with The Blamer.
Avoid The Blamer, especially if you need innovative workers. You want workers who are more interested in achieving—and celebrating—success than persecuting failure.
“Why should we work so hard on this? Even if we come up with a good idea, the boss will probably kill it. If she doesn’t, the market will. It happens every time.” So says The Skeptic. It’s an attitude that can’t be tolerated in a successful organization. As Henry Ford said: “If you think you can or think you cannot, you are correct.” Like The Blamer’s persecution complex, The Skeptic’s lack of belief can be corrosive, resulting in a team-wide lack of will power that may be the difference between the winning team that makes industry-changing innovation happen and the losing one that comes up short.
Avoid The Skeptic. You need workers who believe in both the importance of your mission and your ability to achieve it.
The Know-It-All is so darn smart, she doesn’t have anything left to learn. You’ll hear her say something like: “You people obviously don’t understand the business we are in. The regulations won’t allow an idea like this, and our stakeholders won’t embrace it. Don’t even get me started on our IT infrastructure’s inability to support it. And then there is the problem of ….” She knows all the obstacles and has “learned” they can’t be surmounted; so why bother trying? The Know-It-All’s seeming knowledge can dampen a team’s spirit and stop innovation in its tracks.
Avoid The Know-it-All. The best innovators are learners, not knowers. The same can be said about innovative cultures; they are learning cultures.
Building a successful organization means finding and nurturing the people who make success more inevitable. The leaders who have built these cultures, either through intuition or experience, know that in order to discover, they must eagerly seek out things they don’t understand and jump right into the deep end of the pool. They must fail fearlessly and quickly and then learn and share their lessons with the team. There is simply no room for Victims, Skeptics, Blamers and Know-It-Alls. Hiring them is a mistake, even when their experience and skills look attractive. Keeping them on may also be a mistake.