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Nip Staff Negativity in the Bud With These Positive Solutions




Nothing kills staff morale more quickly than unaddressed problems. Interpersonal quarrels, performance issues and hostilities between departments will have a negative impact on employee motivation and enthusiasm. Thinking that the problem will go away on its own is as counterproductive as putting spoiled milk back into the refrigerator. Negativity is contagious, and the only way to keep it from spreading is to deal with it immediately. Additionally, ignoring a problem quickly leads to lost respect for the leader, resulting in ineffective leadership.

The best way to control negativity is to keep it from rearing its ugly head in the first place. Below are a few tips that will preserve positivity in the workplace.

  • Be fair.
  • Be consistent.
  • Meet with each staff member on a regular basis.
  • Act quickly to nip negativity at the bud.
  • Recognize accomplishments.
  • Provide strategic framework, i.e. team vision and mission.

Let’s take a look at a three examples of situations that can quickly become toxic to staff morale:

  • The biller told the optician that she is tired of fixing his mistakes and that he needs to do a better job getting the right information in the computer. The optician is very offended as he believes that he rarely makes a mistake and the biller is making too much of an issue of it when he does. 
  • One technician is convinced that she does the majority of pretesting because the other technician spends too much time chatting with the patient.
  • The front desk staff feels that the technicians should help more with answering the phone. The technicians complain that the front desk staff takes too long to get the chart ready, which creates bottlenecks in the back office patient flow.

Now, let’s discuss solutions:

  • Schedule a sit-down meeting with the optician, biller and yourself, stating the purpose of the meeting is to determine what each person can do to assist the other in making their job easier. During the meeting, allow the two individuals to come to an agreement with as little involvement from you as possible. 
  • Get the facts first. If the chatty technician is creating extra workload, have a discussion with her. Compliment her on wanting to be friendly with the patients, but explain that lengthy conversations keep patients waiting longer than they should. Show her that you value her ability to be friendly and sociable by asking her greet patients at the door during the next trunk show or other event.
  • Give each group a chance to view the other job from a different perspective. Make time for each front desk member to spend the day following a technician and let each technician spend a day at the front desk.

REBECCA JOHNSON is a motivational ophthalmic staff trainer, a nationally recognized speaker and author, and director of training for Eyefinity. Her honors include the AOA Paraoptometric Special Service Award and VisionMonday’s “Most Influential Women.” Contact her at

This article originally appeared in the November 2016 edition of INVISION.



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