Help! A negative mood in my team: How do I discuss this?
By Kirsten van Enk | 17/05/2021
As a manager you have probably encountered this question: "How do I discuss a negative mood in my team?" Perhaps it is ambitious that a team is positive 100% of the time. How do you deal with a negative team atmosphere? Perhaps avoiding the difficult conversation with your employees seems like the easiest option... Nothing could be further from the truth!
It is precisely by entering into a conversation that you promote the connection, growth and confidence in your team, and this not only applies to negative moods. Positive emotions are just as valuable to appoint. Like negative emotions, positive emotions are contagious. By emphasizing the positive mood of employees, you stir up more positive emotions.
So, is there a positive team atmosphere and do team members feel energetic? Then celebrate this together and be proud of it. Is there, however, a negative atmosphere in your team and are team members a bit low in their energy? Then it is – especially these times – of extra importance to (continue to) talk with your team members about how they feel and why. No worries, having the conversation doesn’t have to be difficult at all!
It all starts with asking one question:
What could we do together to give the mood in our team a positive boost in the coming period?
In this blog you can read how to have a positive and action-oriented conversation with your team about this question in five simple steps. The five steps are derived from the GROW-model created by John Whitmore (1992). As a manager or team leader, you adopt an active listening stance. It is important to keep this in mind during the conversation. It can be difficult not to jump straight into an advisory role, but it is much more powerful to let your team learn and come up with solutions. After all, something that is put forward by your team will really last.
Let’s get started!
1. Formulate your goal
As a team you may be inclined to immediately search for a goal. For example: achieving 80% happiness. However, the goal should not be to achieve 80% happiness, but rather to be able to speak openly and honestly about all emotions. So don’t focus too much on a certain score or percentage.
Rather, you should try to reach an accepted stress level together. What has been normal for you in recent months, and has that energy and team atmosphere generally felt positive? Then that is your own accepted value. With 2DAYSMOOD’s weekly 15-second survey, you can easily map and monitor the percentage of happiness, stress or dissatisfaction in your team.
You can also determine the current and desired score of happiness or stress by, for example, giving a score of 1-10 together during a team meeting. Once you have determined your baseline and goal, you can check weekly if you deviate from this score. Is that the case? Then the conversation is all the more important.
Tip: keep it positive!
The chances of success are increased if you formulate a positive goal (something you want to achieve) instead of a negative goal (something you want to avoid). The positive message is important because it stimulates positivity. Negativity only inhibits your team.
2. Become aware of what is going on
Find out where you are now. How does last week’s team atmosphere compare to that of the previous weeks? When there is a lot of stress or dissatisfaction, discuss what is going on exactly. What circumstances, events or feelings determine this negative team atmosphere? What is it that drains your energy at the moment? And what gives you energy? Ask reflective questions, such as: “How?”, “What?”, “Where?”, “When?”, And “Why?” Give employees time, deliberately drop silences. This gives them the opportunity to think about the current situation better and to say something they have not thought of before.
Tip: you don’t have to think in terms of solutions (yet)
First focus on the current situation. Why is there a negative team atmosphere right now? Do you already use the realtime mood dashboard of 2DAYSMOOD? Then look at the anonymous answers to the open question together: “What is the reason for your mood today?”. By discussing those results, or asking the reasons on the spot, you learn a lot about what positively or negatively contributes to the team atmosphere. Assure your employees that all answers are appreciated and that they can be honest in a safe team environment, without negative consequences.
3. Think of possible actions
Once you have mapped out what is going on exactly, you can start thinking about possible solutions. Think about everything that you could do together to positively influence the mood in the team. What does your team need from you, and what could your team do themselves, big or small, to boost their overall mood? Keep in mind that anything is possible at this stage. Hence, all ideas are welcome.
Tip: consider this phase as a brainstorming session
Think of this phase of the conversation as an open brainstorming session. Do not judge, but build on each other’s ideas. That way you make the ideas even better!
4. Create mutual understanding
Choose the most promising options from all possible solutions that you came up with to achieve a positive team atmosphere and mood. Which options do you like best? This may, of course, be several. At this stage of the conversation, listen sincerely to each other and try to understand each other. By hearing everyone’s ideas, you create mutual understanding within the team. There is always value in what the other person says. Try to be open to this. This way, you may discover new possibilities to give your team mood a positive boost.
Tip: create a joint top 3
Have each team member vote for (e.g. three) options he or she finds most likely to achieve the positive mood. Count the votes per option to reach a joint top 3.
5. Take action
Subsequently, look at the chosen options together and convert them into concrete steps and actions. What will you do and when to boost the mood in your team? Try to start small. For example, what can you do today or this week that already contributes to a positive and energetic team atmosphere?
Tip: appoint a responsible person for each action
By designating an owner of each action, you ensure continuity. There is always someone who checks whether the actions are actually being complied with!
Don’t forget to evaluate
It is very important that there is a follow-up to your conversation. Therefore, assess and evaluate the actions taken together over time. Did these actions contribute to a positive mood in the team? Are you on the right track? Through evaluating the last conversation, you might learn valuable lessons that you could take with you to the next one.
A negative mood in the team is a topic that lends itself well to a team discussion. But perhaps there are also topics that you would rather discuss one on one with your employees, or perhaps employees would like to work on specific topics individually. Whatever the type of the conversation, the above steps are always there to structure the conversation, for yourself and with others.
Do you already measure with 2DAYSMOOD? To make the above 5 steps even easier and more fun, 2DAYSMOOD has developed offline action cards that help to take your team from data to action! If you want to get started with the action cards right away, do not hesitate to contact us at [email protected].
Find the type of conversation that suits you
To create an open, safe and familiar environment where you and your employees can talk about and discuss difficult topics, it is important to do it in your own way. Difficult conversations with your team are only possible if you are familiar with the way you do it.
Via the mood measurement of 2DAYSMOOD we also offer tools to have a good conversation with your team. We have listed help questions for positive emotions and help questions for negative emotions to get you started. In the meantime, keep looking for the type of conversation that suits you. Then you will see that that difficult conversation doesn’t have to be that difficult at all!
Happy employees make happy customers
These (HR) managers use 2DAYSMOOD and make real impact!
How? Our measuring method is the renewed employee survey, because it’s faster, easier and science based. A continuous source of data with which you can improve your (team) culture step-by-step and increase employee happiness. In short, that is profitable for your organization!
Leading Organizations Work with 2DAYSMOOD
Always the employee survey that suits you.
Do you want to increase happiness in your teams? Collect feedback on a specific subject? Monitor stress in real-time? Or do you need a baseline survey to get insight in the drivers of your culture?
We are happy to help with your specific challenge, using:
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