7 Deadly Sins to Kill Team Spirit

We all know that happier employees mean higher levels of engagement and retention, as well as greater customer satisfaction. Sounds like a win-win situation, right? Well, despite the fact that there seems to be no downside to creating a happy workplace, a recent Spherion survey states that only 25% of workers consider their workplace to be “happy,” and according to a work stress survey by Nielson, 80% of workers admit to feeling “stressed out” at work.

If office morale is down, try eliminating one or more of these seven deadly workplace sins.

1. Criticism. If you often lead with what could have been done better rather than what was done well, you’re guilty of the sin of criticism. While constructive criticism is a tool for improvement, people need to celebrate success. It’s really easy to jump to what needs to be changed and assume people know the rest was good—but they need to hear that the rest was good. Especially your star employees whom you might think know how much you appreciate them—they need to hear it from you sometimes! A recent study by The Energy Project showed that employees with supportive bosses are not only 1.3 times more likely to remain with the company, but they are also 67% more engaged.

2. Blaming. Failure is frustrating, and frequently the first thing that follows is the blame game. But let’s face it—blame (whether deserved or not) only breeds resentment. Try teaching from the team’s mistakes rather than placing the blame. The truth is, it doesn’t matter whose “fault” it is, what matters is how best to move forward. Watch for blaming among your employees too and address it with individuals if needed.

3. Complaining. In today’s fast-paced workplace, we are bound to experience frustrations. As much as you might be tempted to vent with your employees—don’t. Your negativity breeds negative energy, and you never know when that “idiot” you talked to on the phone today may be a client tomorrow. Create a positive environment for you and your team by eliminating complaining.

4. Nagging. According to Cornerstone’s “The State of Workplace Productivity Report,” almost 70% of U.S. employees experience work overload. With that in mind, the sin of nagging is one of the deadliest when it comes to dealing with already over-burdened employees. Show them that you trust them to get the job done by refusing to nag and micromanage. Think about the last time someone asked you when something was going to be finished, did it motivate you to work faster or did it distract and irritate you? If you’ve set clear expectations and deadlines where needed, give your employees the benefit of the doubt that they’re doing their best until they give you a reason not to.

5. Threatening. Threats may get results on Law and Order, but in the business world, threats only create anxiety. No one does their best work while under the gun, so try incentives rather than threats, and watch the atmosphere change!

6. Punishing. Harsh work environments can be very creative in finding ways to punish employees for failure. Rather than making people work harder, the sin of punishment makes people accomplish less and hide their mistakes. Instead, encourage your employees to work with the organization to achieve shared goals.

7. Bribing to Gain Control. No employee ever turned up their nose at a raise, but when monetary incentives are the only way you keep your employees in line, you have a problem. Keep in mind that commitment to the company’s mission breeds respect, and a daily atmosphere of positivity in the workplace goes a lot further than that Christmas bonus when it comes to employee satisfaction.


Did I miss a deadly sin? Or do you have questions about how to avoid committing a sin? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

References: 1. All Statistics found at http://blog.accessdevelopment.com/index.php/2014/08/employee-engagement-loyalty-statistics-the-ultimate-collection

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