When Someone is Bringing Down Morale

Is there someone on your team that seems to constantly be bringing down the group’s morale? Here’s how to address that.
team building exercise

When Someone is Bringing Down Morale

Is there someone on your team that seems to constantly be bringing down the group’s morale? When they enter the room, does everyone tense up? Does this person make negative comments during meetings? Are they critical? Do they always anticipate disaster? Or do they just plain get on everyone’s nerves?

Regardless of what they’re doing, their bad vibes are an unwelcomed distraction. Their presence seems to halt productivity, creating a rift in the team and causing the company culture to suffer.

Despite this person’s attitude, they may be worth keeping on board. Perhaps they are a key member of the team and are exceptionally talented at what they do. While you’re not ready to fire them quite yet, things can’t continue as they have been. What do you do?

This issue needs to be addressed, and not just by anyone. It needs to be addressed by you. As the leader of your team, you are in the optimal position to coach the offending party.

Here are the 5 steps to coaching someone who is bringing down morale:

1) Check Your Story
First, it’s important to set aside any assumptions you may have about this person. If you tell yourself that they have a bad attitude, you will inadvertently project that perspective onto them. Go into this conversation assuming that their intentions are positive and that their greatest desire is to succeed and achieve great things for your company. It’s important for you to share this perspective with them.

2) Get Their Story
Take the time to understand where they are coming from and to have them communicate what is causing their “agitation.” Ask them what is going on in their lives. Ask them how they’ve been feeling at work. Ask them what isn’t working for them. Show that you’re interested, and then just listen. This is a critical step to help them feel safe, heard and understood.

3) Dig Underneath Their Story
Once you’ve heard their story, ask questions so that you can completely understand their point of view. Ask them for information about their story that they didn’t already supply. Ask who, what, where, when, why and how. Also ask them to share how they think others feel about the situation. Fill in all the blanks until you’re sure you have all the information.

4) Identify Their Beliefs
Ask them what they believe to be true about this situation. You can even follow your hunch and offer some suggestions. For example, you could ask, “Do you believe that your team members are making poor decisions?” Guess how they may be feeling and why. Let them either agree with you or correct you. Once you’ve identified their limiting belief, say it out loud.

5) Challenge Their Beliefs
Demonstrate how the situation might benefit from an alternate perspective. If their belief is that team members don’t look at the data and make decisions prematurely, suggest that there’s an opportunity for them to teach the team to make more effective decisions. And finally, show them how their thoughts have the ability to either get in their way or propel them forward.

The key to addressing someone who is bringing down morale is to use a coaching approach to help them achieve their goals. To learn more about coaching leaders, please check out our Certification Program!

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