Counteracting a Negative Team Mood

Counteracting a Negative Team Mood


In my daily life as a manager it has been the people aspect that has been taking up a lot of my time lately. It seems that people problems come in cycles where you can go along with very few personnel issues and then all of a sudden you will have a string of issues occur all in the same time frame. You can just feel a mood within your team when you have a rash of these type of issues and it becomes a matter of casting out the negative demons before they do too much harm.

So what can you do when you notice the atmosphere of your team sour and you begin to see a rash of poor decisions and actions by members of your team?

First, stay calm. It reminds me of the catch phrase from the novel The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – “Don’t Panic”. You have got to keep your cool. If you allow yourself to become irritable you will only feed the negative attitudes and cause further strife on your team. You need to be the emotional rock that steadies the group and gets things back on a positive footing.

I like to use humor in these circumstances. I find that by joking around and finding some common points to have fun with, it lightens my mood as well as the mood of those around me. Taking the time to laugh with and enjoy your coworkers is a great way to beat a negative mood.

Second, practice positive reinforcement. Look for the good that others are doing. Seek it out and recognize it publicly. Giving praise to others not only makes them feel good, it also makes you feel good, and let’s others see the positive in the work environment. Say thank you, pat people on the back, give out rewards for a job well done. Avoid focusing on those negative attitudes that are creating the problem. Don’t feed the negative, but instead fight it with as much positive energy as you can.

Third, address the problems in as positive and productive a manner as you can. You may be forced to deal with issues by implementing some form of discipline, this is just a necessary course of action at times, but always seek what is best for the person that you are disciplining and try to find the positive. Remember that they are not being disciplined because you enjoy doing it, or that it even has anything to do with you, instead focus on the choices that individual made that led to this circumstance.

Try to use the disciplinary action as a learning opportunity and help the individual understand that you want them to succeed personally and professionally, but that there are certain actions that must be engaged in, or avoided as the case may be, in order for them to succeed and that your wish and goal is to help them succeed. Show genuine empathy and concern for them and seek to help them learn and improve.

Finally, always direct your team’s thoughts and actions to what is in their control. Do not allow them to linger on issues that are going wrong outside of their control. Help them to feel engaged by getting their attention laser focused on the ways in which they can make a difference and on those things that are within their scope of influence.

You can do this by reminding them of what the team mission, vision, and goals are in order to refocus their energy. Getting back to the basics can be the simplest way to refocus a team that has lost its direction.

When you feel the mood of your team shift, and you begin to see a rash of personnel issues, keep things in focus. Take a deep breath and sit down to remind yourself of what things are going good and then focus your team’s attention on the positive by getting back to the basic mission that drives your team. Positive energy is more powerful than negative energy, but it sometimes takes more concentration and a deeper level of focus to cut through the haze to find the center that the team can focus on and rally around.

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