Seriously Speaking: Accentuate the Positive (Part 3)

This is the third installment of Accentuate the Positive. As you will recall we have been using the Lyrics from the old Johnny Mercer song. Here they are again, just in case you don’t recall.

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
And don’t mess with Mr. In Between.

Last time out we talked about how to focus on finding and creating positives in your business. This time let’s focus on eliminating the negatives.

Eliminate the Negatives

Generally, I find that negatives in your business can be classified into two categories: Attitude and Performance. These will ultimately result in negative results.

Attitude

We all know them. Those people that suck the life out of you. You know, Debbie Downer, Negative Nancy, and Paul Problem. Not occasionally but all the time. The sky is always falling. These people can rob you of your creativity and your energy. Why is important to deal with the negativity? Estimates of the number of employees with negative attitudes about work are up around 25 million and it is likely that the cost to businesses is in the $350 Billion range.

So, what can you do to keep these employees from stealing your energy, passion and productivity? In his book, “The Energy Bus”, Jon Gordon suggests that you not waste time trying to convince negative people to get on your bus. He further states: “and if negative people do get on your bus, it’s essential to remove them as quick as you can”.  A manager once told me that he didn’t want to hear anything negative out of his managers unless those utterances came with an alternative solution. If you have negative people on your team, talk to them and try to figure out where the negativity is coming from. If they can’t change then they will have to be removed. Do not just ignore the problem… it will spread like a virus and infect your entire team.

Another form of negative attitude is known as “triangulation”. This is when one employee complains to another employee who can’t do anything about the problem or issue. This robs your business of both time and energy. Train your employees, especially your managers,  to avoid triangulation by talking directly with the team member that can help or that they have an issue with.

Performance

Let’s face it. We have all been on teams where someone isn’t doing their job properly. Many of you may have been that somebody. Sometimes it is because they lack energy, passion, and motivation. Are they following your lead?

The truth is that our teams will feed off of our energy and passion. Make sure that you show your enthusiasm for work and share it with your team. They will feed off you.

If one of your team members is not pulling their weight it is imperative that you correct the issue immediately. First determine if it is due to a lack of training, directions, etc. Correct those issues if possible. Make sure the employee understands the situation and they are needed on the team only if they are able to perform. Share with them your enthusiasm about the work and the part that they play in the process. Give them a chance to correct their performance but if they don’t they will have to be removed from the team.  It is not fair to let them linger.

Make sure that your team members feel appreciated. Recognize them for their accomplishments and contributions to the team. I see managers and business owners avoid this because they feel the it will lead to employees “wanting” more. It might but it may also keep key members of the team from leaving. There is no excuse for your employees not knowing that you appreciate their contributions. Make sure that your team knows what their mission is.  They will perform better, have more fun, and you will instill a sense of positivity in your organization.

“Protect your enthusiasm from the negativity of others” – H Jackson Brown Jr.

 

Seriously Speaking: Accentuate the Positive (Part 2)

In my last post (which you can find here) I talked about the old Johnny Mercer song, Accentuate the Positive, and what using the lyrics of the song for guidance in changing the dynamics might mean for your business.

As you will recall the Lyrics of the song are:

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
And don’t mess with Mr. In Between.

In Part one I talked about some dynamics and concepts. In part two we are going to talk about using the first line of the chorus as guidance for improving business dynamics.

Accentuate the Positive

Accentuate the Positive? What a concept. But how do you go about that in your business?  While there is no way to give in-depth advice and step by step instructions in the space that I have in this article, I will do my best to provide a short list of things that you can do instill a positive dynamic in your business.

  1. Take a step back. It is very hard to identify positive things when you are hip deep in problems. Stepping back will allow you look at your business with some clarity.
  2. You must break your business down into functional areas. This will help you to identify things that are positive in your business. These functional areas may be sales, shipping, billing, production, etc.
  3. Look at each area and identify things that are happening which are as good or better than you expected. For example: Is your sales volume as good or better than budget? Is selling price as high as budgeted? Are your accounts receivable current? What about your costs? Is your purchasing department (or person) buying at prices that are acceptable?
  4.  When you uncover positive things happening, examine them. Really examine them to see if there are things that can be done to do even better in those areas. Sometimes, when we see things going good, we fail to look further at those areas for fear of making things worse. It is true that you be careful not to make things worse but that is why you “examine” very closely. What you are looking for here is the “why”. Why is what we planned working? Why are prices holding? Why did volume go up? Why are we getting customers that we couldn’t before?
  5. When you find your employees doing something right, make an example of them. Let them know. Let them know that you appreciate it. Charge you managers with the same task. Sometimes just a thank you is in order. Other times, a small gift card, or some paid time off, etc. are in order. This is how you go from having employees to having a team. This is not something that you start and stop. This is also not something that you can exclude part of the workforce from. Once you begin, keep it going.

This is a really simplified version of what you have to do. But, if you can take a step back you may be able to change the dynamics of your business by making what is good even better. Don’t merely accept good. Strive for excellence a little bit at a time. If you can’t take a step back, you will need to get help. The simple truth is that sometimes you can take what is good and make it better by doing little things. Don’t merely accept good. Strive for excellence. Remember, good can become mediocre very quickly unless you know what positives to focus on.

In the next installment of Accentuating the Positive, we will look at ways to eliminate the negatives in your business.

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose” – Lyndon B Johnson