How to Manage the Pessimist on Your Team


Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for Management pros

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Being able to manage and get the best from pessimistic colleagues is a key part of making sure your team can be as effective and functional as possible.

Article 2 Minutes
How to Manage the Pessimist on Your Team

Getting the most from each member of your team can be exhausting and, at times, incredibly frustrating, especially when you have to deal with particularly pessimistic employees. However, being able to get results from these type of workers can be some of the most rewarding, as well as ensuring you are the most successful team you can be.

Address their negativity

Ignoring negative comments and hoping they'll go away is a dangerous thing to do. It's likely that your pessimist is that way because they feel as though they have been ignored or devalued by people. Whether this is you, someone else at the company or people they worked with earlier on, not addressing their negative feelings can exacerbate whatever issues they have.

Instead, make sure you have regular chats with all members of your team, especially the ones who are pessimistic about certain aspects of company life. Take them seriously and come up with ways that you can change what's upsetting them.

Ask them to expand

If your pessimist is vocal during team meetings or during brainstorms, don't give them an eye roll or try and divert attention away from them. Ask them to expand on their point and use it as a catalyst to start a conversation with other people involved. This will help them not to feel isolated or alienated from the team, but that you are taking their concerns seriously and want to address them in a practical way.

It also takes away some of the shock value that many pessimists get when they say a negative comment. Of course, not all employees that have pessimistic attitudes revel in the attention, but normalizing their behavior takes away the entertainment value. This means if they are just saying things to be funny or to get attention, but don't really have a point to back it up with, they will look foolish and soon stop.

Re-evaluate your team

Try looking at the people they are working closest with. Are they just as negative? If so, try switching up the team dynamics and see if this makes a change to their behavior. Having them with a motivated employee may be enough to encourage them to be more engaged with work. If this doesn't work, you may need to look at options for moving them to another team.

Make sure you monitor the other members of your team closely as well to ensure your pessimist isn’t having a negative effect on them. The last thing you want is for their pessimism to bring down the rest of the team.

A consistently pessimistic person can be damaging to overall team morale so it's important to know where to draw the line.

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