Tuesday, August 11, 2009

No Running Tonight and Battling Negativity

It's 9 o'clock, the time I head for the track, but the ominous clouds stalking in don't look favorable for an evening run. Electrical energy, otherwise known as lightning, streaks the starless and moonless sky. I've been running now for about a month, and this week I've reached my 2 mile per day goal. Running for a month still doesn't make it any easier each night as I step out onto the foreboding track. There's a bit of mental negativity to overcome with each lap. Previously, I wrote about identifying negativity in the workplace which can also carry over into your personal life.

As the AR manager in a national medical equipment company, I had plenty of teeming personalities to deal with. One thing I did to battle the negative nellies, was to focus on building a confident team, with a degree of self-esteem. Providing proper training and a real opportunity to show off the skills allowed my team to excel and ensured them that I valued them as a person. I always started the day with a big smile which helped to reinforce my faith in their abilities to perform.

The next vital part of battling negativity is giving my team a sense of ownership. I would draw up the initial contract, but I'd always have a team meeting to get input before submitting the final bid. My team were the ones having to comply to the contract, so they should have a say in how it should be handled. I wouldn't necessarily allow them to write the entire contract, but there were decisions I could allow them to make.

The final approach to overcoming negativity was to create a community and knock down the walls of division between different functions. Before I moved into the AR Department, I managed the Customer Service Department. There was a lot of animosity between both departments, and well, the previous AR manager furthered that chasm by spewing toxic waste. The AR department was very hostile when I became the new manager, I knew that none of them would show any loyalty or respect for me in that position, until I changed their attitude about the customer service department.

I had to give both departments a shared vision. This basically is a mission statement, what we're all about and what our ultimate goals are as a company. Believe it or not, donuts aided in the process. I'd stop in the morning before work and get a few dozen of assorted, freshly made sugary sweet donuts. It's funny how people just melt and become more open when presented with a sweet treat! I kind of stole this approach from an old TV show I used to watch, Hillstreet Blues. Gather both departments together, pass out the donuts and coffee, and basically go over the accomplishments, what we needed to do today, and some quick training.

I haven't managed a department in 9 years, but I'm pretty confident that these implementations will still aid in the process of battling negativity.


Anonymous said...

Donuts, like butter and bacon - always seem to make things better. So true!

Cheap Tricks and Costly Truths said...

I like the holes...how 'bout you?