The Power of Positive Reinforcement in the Workplace
Ask anyone who has had a bad job what made that job so bad, and they’ll likely tell you that that their boss was the root of the problem. A company’s culture starts at the top, which means that whether it’s good or bad, the behavior of company management sets the tone for the rest of the company’s employees. And if a person in a managerial position is overly negative or critical without being complimentary in equal measure, it can have a grave impact on the overall morale of the company’s employees, causing people to stop caring about delivering high-quality work and sometimes even choose to part ways with the company for good.
In any group setting, people look to each other for cues about how to respond to the situation at hand. So, then, if one person has such an unpleasant experience with his boss that it causes irreperable damage to their professional relationship, his colleagues will inevitably both recognize this shift and feel less favorable toward their boss as a result of it (or like her more, depending on how they feel about their colleague). You’ve probably heard the saying, “one bad apple ruins the bunch.” Well, when the bad apple in the bunch is the one with the most seniority and power, it can ruin the bunch very, very quickly.
The question for people in managerial roles, then, is how to avoid this toxicity from seeping its way into their own company. The answer is less complicated than many people think, but the truth is, if you want to have happy employees, then you need to not only bring positive energy to the office yourself, but you also have to give positive feedback as often as do negative. I’m not advocating that you suddenly become effusively complimentary, as that behavior also undermines the success of a workforce by taking away the value of a compliment. I’m simply saying that being a strong manager and leader means understanding that positive feedback is a valuable tool for building both employee morale and trust in the workplace.