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警惕办公室里的“怨妇”

Shelley DuBois 2012年10月15日

研究表明,尽管悲观、爱抱怨的员工只是少数,但是他们在工作中流露出来的消极情绪却会影响周围的人,毒害整个企业文化。但是,解决这个问题也有良方。只要找出办公室里积极向上的员工,充分发挥他们的作用,就能推动办公室的整体气氛向好的方向发展。

    天知道,如今许许多多的员工都有理由抱怨。而且,几乎每间办公室里都会有一两个人抱怨起来过了头——满腹怨气,忿忿不平。

    这些人就是管理专家罗伯•克罗斯所谓的“消极激励者”。“这些人的互动方式或语气,让整个工作环境变得窒息。”

    “让人窒息”无疑不利于形成良性的工作环境,很多员工可能都不想受这些消极激励者的影响。为此,他们首先要了解领导力专家称之为“非正式网络”的一个体系。这种网络存在于正式的企业生态链之外,建立在人与人之间的联系之上,从主要激励者到能量破坏者以及介于两者之间的人,无论职位高低,克罗斯声称,组织内非正式网络的能量流动图是可以绘制出来的。

    如果你觉得这听起来有点不靠谱,你并不是唯一一个这么想的人。克罗斯和博斯公司(Booz & Company)高级合伙人乔恩•卡岑巴赫都曾和这样的高级经理合作过,他们拒绝接受这种观念,拒绝相信在他们所知和控制的工作场所架构之外还存在另外一个架构。卡岑巴赫说:“如果你让一家机构的高层来找出最佳激励者,他们肯定选不对人。”

    但是,稍作挖掘,你就能发现这些网络。”我们可以制作简图和其他图例来显示人们之间的联系,”弗吉尼亚大学(University of Virginia)麦金泰尔商学院(McIntire School of Commerce)教授克罗斯表示。这些简图可以显示出谁与谁之间在进行互动,互动的频率有多频繁。“然后,我们在上面叠加企业归属感和职业满意度得分,”克罗斯继续说。最后就可以找出员工中的积极推动者和消极激励者。

    为什么要这么做?有证据表明,消极激励者的确会对公司造成伤害。《职业行为杂志》(The Journal of Vocational Behavior)1994年刊登了一篇论文。文中,研究人员劳伦斯•尼科维兹和玛丽•罗斯诺维斯基发现,对工作前景悲观者的生产率往往不如他人,无论他们目前对工作有多满意。这篇报告称:“即便是在状况不错时,这些个体可能也会关注工作中不好的一面”。

    他们还会把同事也拖下水。在一份尚未发布、正在接受同行审查的研究报告中,克罗斯还发现:“消极的相互影响造成压力,对衡量工作环境身心健康的一系列指标有显著影响。”换句话说,应对过多的消极因素会让人受不了。

    这些消极的相互影响效应远超正面影响。尽管积极激励者在组织机构中的数量远超消极激励者,“消极激励者对工作表现和员工感受产生的消极影响是积极激励者产生积极影响的两倍还多,”克罗斯说。具体而言,克罗斯认为,约5%的员工带来了员工90%的与工作相关的苦恼。

    那么,如何才能躲开他们的负能量圈之外呢?卡岑巴赫和克罗斯两人都认为,你不应试图改变他们的态度。从根本上怨恨工作的人会抵制任何试图改变他们的努力——他们的终极目标不一定是要感觉好一些。

    Goodness knows, plenty workers have reason to complain these days. And yet, most every office has a couple people who take that right a little too liberally -- they are, as a rule obtrusively upset.

    They are what management expert Rob Cross calls "de-energizers:" "The people who just suck the life out of the room with the way they interact or tones they take."

    Life-sucking is, without doubt, counter-productive to a healthy workplace, and many a worker would probably prefer to avoid the negative effects of de-energizers. To do so, they might first have to buy into a system that leadership experts call the "informal network." This network exists outside of the official corporate food chain. Instead, it is built on connections between people who, regardless of rank, are either key motivators, energy drainers, or somewhere in between. Cross claims it's possible to actually map the energy flow through the informal network at an organization.

    If all this seems a little floofy to you, you're not alone. Both Cross and Booz & Company senior partner Jon Katzenbach have worked with high-level managers who resist the concept that there is a workplace structure outside of the one they know and control. "If you ask people in the upper levels of an organization to identify the best motivators, they won't pick them right," Katzenbach says.

    And yet, with a little digging, you can unearth these networks. "We can create diagrams and other visuals that show the connections amongst the people," says Cross, who is a professor at University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce. Those diagrams map who interacts with whom and how often. "Then we overlay the engagement scores and career satisfaction scores," Cross continues, and you can pinpoint your motivating and de-energizing employees.

    Why do this? There's evidence that de-energizers truly hurt a company. In a 1994 paper published in The Journal of Vocational Behavior, researchers Lawrence Necowitz and Mary Roznowski found that people who have a baseline negative outlook about work tend to withdraw more from productive work behavior than their colleagues, regardless of how satisfied they feel about their jobs. "It may be that these individuals focus on the negative aspects of their jobs even under otherwise pleasant conditions," the paper suggests.

    They also tend to drag their colleagues down with them. In unpublished research that's currently under peer review, Cross has found that "negative interactions that create stress have a significant effect on a range of measures of physical health in the workplace." In other words, dealing with too much negativity can make people sick.

    Those negative interactions are also significantly more potent than positive ones. While there are far more energizers than de-energizers in organizations, "the de-energizers have more than twice the negative impact on measures of performance and employee well-being as the energizers have positively," Cross says. Indeed, roughly 5% of employees account for 90% of people's work-related misery, Cross argues.

    So how do you stay out of their circle of negative energy? You shouldn't try to fix their attitude, both Katzenbach and Cross agree. People who fundamentally resent their jobs will resist any effort to pull them up -- their end goal isn't necessarily to feel better.

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