June 1, 2017

Eliminating Negativity At Work

Eliminating Negativity At Work
Here are four hidden psychological factors that corrupt performance.

Business consulting often focuses on the most tangible challenges: cash flow, supply chain, work flow, job descriptions, salaries and bonuses.

In my work with companies and corporate teams, I often take an “inside out” approach. “Inside out” focuses on that which is not so easily seen and often can be a far more powerful inhibitor of successful operations. We see four (among many) factors that, once identified can create a pathway for improving personal performance of employees and managers.


The so-called negative employee. We all know and recognize this person and it’s easy to demonize them. We have found numerous examples that may seem to you to be “counter intuitive.”

The negativity you see often hides a strong desire to positively impact a team through naming what’s wrong. We call this employee the “truth teller” and he or she is easy to dismiss because what they are saying is not well said or is said with so much emotion we feel uncomfortable listening. As in ancient times this messenger of necessary information can be a victim of “kill the messenger.”

Solution: Find a leader who isn’t afraid to listen carefully to all the complaints this employee brings. Honor each one and create a leadership meeting where the complaints or criticisms are seen in a non-emotional objective light, and then decide what’s valid.


The orphan. Within every organization there are insiders and outsiders. Like the school yards of our youth we all want to be part of the in crowd. The “orphan” will linger on the outskirts if not seen for their unique contributions, their work ethic, perhaps their shyness and their reluctance to speak up.

Solution: Empower this employee through intentionally welcoming their input, inviting them to small group gatherings, asking for their help with a project not necessarily in their domain. Offer a little training or coaching where they need it. Seeing it, naming it, acting on it will change the complexion of your team.


The narcissist. This person creates more attention for themselves than is warranted and causes anxiety among team members. They may look good but their self referencing all successes of the team undermines loyalty, goodwill and focus.

Solution: A good muscular interview exploring their needs, their true contributions, their own exploration of their effect on the team—can open the way to coaching that focuses on building a realtime relationship with leadership. Remember: the narcissist wants to be seen, wants to be important. Give them a pathway where they can, in a healthy way, achieve that.


The addict. Addiction is not only about alcohol and drugs. It is a personality style as well. The addict can’t stop themselves from smoking/eating/drinking/working/gossiping, etc.

Solution: This employee needs help but it must be artfully offered. Intervention should be by design using leadership that is itself insightful, kind and proactively oriented. Acknowledge their contributions, probe (a little) around whether they self diagnose their own situation, offer outside the office help (if appropriate) and make a coach available to them. If successful this somewhat driven employee will become even more valuable to your organization as they gain some (inner) control over their demons.

Hidden factors, mostly psychological in nature, can when addressed, fuel real growth in team performance. Work to identify them and then to turn them into positives for your company. •

Read the article Eliminating Negativity At Work in the Latest Issue

Did you enjoy this article? If so, we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. It would be great if you subscribed to our RSS feed or signed up for email updates.

Print This Article

About the Author

Stephen Frueh, PhD
Stephen Frueh, PhD
Stephen Frueh, PhD, is the creator of business consulting firm Centrifugal Leadership. He has assisted small to medium sized companies in culture change, leadership development, and the creation of high performing teams. His is a frequent speaker and presenter on business topic, relationships, and productivity. His tag line says it well: “Leadership from the inside out.” He can be reached at Centrifugal Leadership, (805) 338-4286 or Read more about Stephen Frueh...



The Orphan of Negativity in the Workplace

Stephen W. Frueh, PhD, CEO of Centrifugal Leadership, speaks on identifying the “orphan” of negativity in the workplace. The are people in companies that feel like outsiders and because of such, their production and partici...
by Jerri Hemsworth

Stress in Retirement

Retirement Stress Is Increasing

Many California workers today are feeling stressed about retirement, and a new study indicated that many Americans are not taking steps to prepare for it. Those feeling stressed have lower levels of retirement confidence and ar...
by Jerri Hemsworth

Is Now The Time To Sell Your Business

Is Now The Time To Sell Your Business?

The economy is improving and business is up, but is now the time to sell? You might be surprised! Knowing that you want to sell is easy. You decide that. Knowing when to sell, well now that’s a bit tougher. Will the market go...
by Matt Coletta


business card

Lame Excuses For Not Running Your Own Business

Being around so many professionals from all different walks allows me to be inquisitive and candid. I like to ask intriguing and sometimes thought-provoking questions. In the last 15 years, I’ve become an advocate for sma...
by Jerri Hemsworth


Rating Today’s Business Buyers: The Individual Buyer

The decision to sell has been made. A business owner should be aware of the number of possible business buyers. Here is another of today’s most active categories of business buyers: The Individual Buyer Third In A Series Most...
by Matt Coletta



Be the first to comment!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>