If you're a manager, you can't afford to have negative, non-performing employees on your payroll. 3M discovered that. When management laid off the bottom 10% (their poorest performers) at one facility -- their productivity skyrocketed up 18%. When they laid off another 10% (the next poorest set of performers) -- productivity went up another 4%. 3M learned that negative employees not only produce less, but they also they cost more.
Negative employees destroy morale and turn off customers by talking negatively. It's like the manager who asked his new secretary, "Why don't you ever answer the telephone?" She said, "Why should I? Nine times out of ten it's for you!"
Negative employees do just enough to get by. They don't have a lot of drive, and they don't take a lot of initiative. They may even say, "I've just got 7 more years, 3 months, and 2 days, and I'm out of here." In other words, they've got a lousy work attitude.
So, how does an employee with a good positive attitude behave? Here are four characteristics of a positive employee that you should look for in yourself and your team:
Best-selling author Rabbi Harold Kushner says it so well. He says: "Work hard, not solely because it will bring you rewards and promotions, but because it will give you a sense of being a competent person. Something corrosive happens to the souls of people who stop caring about the quality of their work...and begin to go through the motions."
Your job may not be fun. It may not even be meaningful. But if you're a winner, you're going to enjoy your work, no matter what. I know it sounds a little harsh, but I've often told my audiences, if you think your job stinks, if you think employment is bad, try unemployment for a little while.
By contrast, negative employees focus on a minor annoyance and let it ruin everything. It's like the person who was chosen to attend my two-day program, 'The Journey To The Extraordinary.' Even though her company paid for the trip and program, the hotel was very nice and the training was excellent, her only comment about the entire event was the fact that the chairs in the training room were uncomfortable. I'm sure they were. But her focus on the uncomfortable chairs kept her from experiencing the transformation everyone else was experiencing.
Of course, positive employees - who see the good in every situation - may annoy the losers in the company. The losers may see these positive people as Pollyannaish or blind, and they may be disgusted with those people who aren't wallowing in the negativity with them. So be it.
Positive employees find out what's expected and do their best to exceed those expectations. Whether it's dazzling a customer with better service than she's ever experienced before - or surprising a coworker by offering extra help - positive employees focus on how they can do more, not less.