Vasiliy Ivanov is the Founder and CEO of KeepSolid. KeepSolid builds modern security and productivity solutions for more than 25M users.
I’ve long believed that the power of a positive attitude can reap many great benefits in all aspects of my life and work. As American philosopher and psychologist William James said, “Pessimism leads to weakness, optimism to power.”
This is the reason that our company developed a solid plan for letting go of employees with negative attitudes. We found that toxic people had the real ability to eat up all the energy in the company.
Positive Energy Creates A Stronger Company
What happened when we began cultivating positive energy in our company? Our sales skyrocketed, for one thing. We realized that virulent, angry, egotistical people prevented us from reaching our goals. What was the point in developing any kind of consistent business models if we had this gaping hole in our corporate culture where toxic employees were able to suck all the positive energy out of the company?
Recently, a colleague came to me and asked, “Is it possible that one negative person can affect other employees, even on different floors of the building?” My answer was a resounding “yes,” and here’s why: The employee who spreads negativity through the company’s halls, boardrooms and break areas can create a situation similar to a virus that spreads disease throughout your body. Eventually, the person’s negativity will sicken company culture and unsettle everyone involved.
In some cases, managers can catch this kind of negativity and gently cut it off at the pass. Other times, however, managers aren’t around. Maybe someone in the break room decides he needs to take a hardworking colleague down a notch: “Hey, buddy, there’s no point in working so hard. You’re only going to make the same salary, anyway.” Before too long, that more efficient employee might take this advice to heart and start to coast. This kind of advice does not encourage excellence or loyalty to the company and isn’t helpful at all.
Perhaps in another instance, a salesperson finds a hole in the company’s bonus system and shows her colleagues how well she is living off the results to which the whole team is contributing. Not too shockingly, team spirit dips and that team fails to meet the sales goal the following month.
And then there are the people who like to think they know everything. They might criticize unnecessarily, take credit for work that isn’t theirs or try to pit people against each other. These employees will do their best to confuse and discourage their co-workers. This corporate bullying is tragic since it precludes a light-filled, soulful atmosphere of co-creation and success. Employees aren’t happy in such a noxious work environment, which in turn breaks down communication, ravages morale, decreases production and reduces sales.
Toxic Behavior Pushes Good Employees Away
When toxic attitudes start to ooze their way into the workplace, it’s usually the quality people who begin getting itchy feet. They start leaving the company, one by one, pushed out by the lack of support, growth and expansion that comes from an aura of peace and positivity.
This is not what company leaders want to see happen, since the good, effective employees will resign, and you’ll be left with the naysayers who only want to feed at your trough, taking advantage as long as they can.
A Positive Culture Requires Cultivation
I write often about harnessing corporate culture as a strategic tool. By corporate culture, I don’t mean requiring a strict dress code or forcing folks to write brag posts on social media.
Corporate culture refers instead to the shared beliefs and behaviors embraced by all members of a company. Culture can also be described as how people behave and communicate with each other. A positive, happy culture that is well and abundant has the power to nurture employees, making them feel safe and protected. And company leaders know that happy employees equal a competitive advantage and a more sustainable vision.
Using his or her own values as a guide, the company leader should develop the corporate culture systematically, with the goal of bringing the team on board. Good leadership will encourage the best employees to embrace a positive culture. Those employees who don’t care about the overall well-being of the company will likely be pushed out.
Measure Good Vibes Through KPIs
The tactical tool for a company to measure progress in fostering a positive company culture is KPI (Key Performance Indicators) used to measure and track performance in marketing, finance, sales or customer service. Yes, creating KPIs, especially if you have dozens of different high-level jobs in your organization, can take a substantial amount of time. But for a transitional phase, you can teach managers how to evaluate their subordinates’ level of positive work and how to track these statistics manually.
The strongest house is built with a solid foundation. The same is true for companies. If leaders take the time to build a solid foundation of a positive corporate culture, reflected in all operations of the organization, they can protect the company’s most sacred asset: its well-being.