Negative Nellies Online: How To Handle Those On Your Team
Recently, we’ve heard a lot about how devastating bullying in schools can be to children and teens. But mean behavior in the office can also take a great toll, not only on individuals but on company-wide productivity. And nowhere is negativity--and in extreme cases, bullying--more common than online. Circumstances where negativity can poison productivity include: people expressing frustration using inappropriate language on email and social media, not using pleasantries when addressing team members by email or IM, or even passive aggressively copying (or not copying) certain members on cc’d emails.
Here are 4 easy ways to nip negative behavior in the bud, before someone feels bullied, your team’s efficiency tanks, or valued people start looking for new jobs:
Get Dialed In
Your long-term goal should be to have a team that self-regulates its behavior, but in the meantime, you need to be aware of what’s going on with your crew. "Ask to be copied on all correspondence, so you can monitor the tone of language," says Jayne Mattson, Senior Vice President at Keystone Associates, a leading career management and transition services consulting firm headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. www.keystoneassociates.com. Not only will your very presence help people start to examine their tone, but you can speak to individuals who might be out of line.
Lead By Example
Just like a parent shouldn’t smoke if they don’t want their teen to start lighting up, make sure you’re an example of professionalism online at all times. "Respond to emails using modeling language you want the team to use when communicating challenges, frustrations or concerns," suggests Mattson. Your team will learn not only how to respond respectfully during stressful time, but will understand that you expect them to do so, to.
Update Your Corporate Handbook
You can’t change corporate culture overnight. But adding what is expected in terms of online etiquette to an existing corporate handbook is a smart start. Send an email to all employees with the changes, add it to the agenda in your next meeting, and be sure to give examples (and then, lead by example, as described above). Guidelines may include etiquette expectations as well as any restrictions you want to impose (for instance, not referencing company business on Twitter, if that’s not part of a person’s job).
Whether it’s sharing copies of Dale Carnegie’s How To Win Friends and Influence People in the Digital Age, or enrolling your team in one of the related DCT courses, teaching employees how to communicate effectively online is an investment that will always pay dividends.