5 tips to manage negative employees on your construction team

Don’t let a “Debbie Downer” get you … well, down. Learn how to stay positive at work and bring others up with you.

Sean Robinson / Buildertrend

Whether it’s a Nancy or a Ned, every workplace seems to have one – that one negative coworker who just seems to complain just for the sake of complaining. You know the type. No is their favorite word, change of any kind is met with an exacerbated sigh and, frankly, you’re beginning to think they just don’t plain like you.

However, in today’s pandemic world, pessimism is an easy pitfall to fall into. That holds especially true for the field of construction. Labor shortages. Supply chain bottlenecks. Rising material prices. Those are just a few of the hurdles that could turn even the cheeriest construction team’s smiles into frowns.

But we can’t call it quits on optimism. Positivity has a profound impact on the workplace. Happier employees are more productive, creative and able to bounce back from project problems in a snap.

It’s time to turn that “Debbie Downer” on your construction team into a “Positive Pam” – and we know just how it’s done. Follow our five steps on how to stay positive at work.


1) Kill ’em with kindness

Negativity has no spot in the workplace, especially when you’ve got homes to build and multiple crews to manage. That’s why you need to stop it dead in its tracks. To do so, you don’t have to break out the sage and healing crystals – you just have to set a good example for your employees.

Be your own dream team member. The rest shall follow. However, this is easier said than done. Even on the most difficult days, remind others that problems and setbacks are a natural part of the construction game. The work you do is complicated, so the last thing you need is to let emotions make it even murkier.

Instead, take each experience as a learning moment. Doing so can inspire your construction team and fortify your success.


2) Address the negative actions head-on

When there is a negative coworker dragging the rest of the team down, it is not the time to tip toe. Be bold, take action and lead with compassion.

That last part is key. After spending 40-plus hours a week with one another, we often assume we know our coworkers backwards and forwards. However, when you’re busy in the field or overseeing multiple projects, the job takes priority. Personal life takes a backseat during working hours. There may be a deeper issue at play as to why an attitude may have changed for the worst.

In those cases, it’s vital to remain understanding and work together to best accommodate your employee. But, in all cases of negative behavior, it’s worth a discussion.

You should clearly outline with examples where somebody has misstepped. The more detail, the better. Until you address them face-to-face, they might not even know their behavior is an issue.


3) Invest in positivity

When it comes to solving the issue of how to stay positive at work, sometimes a little reinforcement goes a long way.

During your discussion with a negative employee, set goals for change and listen to their ideas about the situation. Maybe they can tell you what they reasonably need to change their attitude.

When investing in positivity at your workplace, everyone should see the payoff, too. You can accomplish this by fostering programs or activities that make employees happier. That can include everything from employee-of-the-month recognitions and mental health benefits to team outings and potlucks.

We’re getting happier (and hungrier) just thinking about it.


4) Try not to overanalyze the behavior

We’ve all been there. Stuck re-reading an email for the tenth time trying to decipher the tone. Why is their answer so short? Where are the exclamation marks? Did they purposely miss my last question?

Ok. Breathe. Chances are they just wanted to communicate quickly then get back to the job at hand. It’s natural to overanalyze interactions – increasingly so as our daily back-and-forth goes digital.

It’s also natural for managers to want everyone on their team to be happy at all times. After all, happy employees are usually long-lasting ones, too. But everyone deserves some grace. Bad days happen to even the most engaged workers.

As a manager, it’s your job to determine when someone is just off for a short while and when it’s beginning to affect your company’s performance. Don’t overthink everything, but do find a solution when it’s needed.


5) Create a more collaborative environment

One of the best solutions to creating a more positive workplace is through collaboration. Your construction team is going to be more pleasant if they are working together instead of against one another.

At the end of the day, there should be no competition among your crew. Everyone’s efforts matter. Wow-worthy homes that win over clients aren’t made alone. So, what can you do as a manager to bolster collaboration?

It’s simple. You need Buildertrend. As the leading construction project management software, this platform comes with digital communication tools that keep everyone in sync. Messages, comments, file sharing and Daily Logs ensure that all parties stay looped in.

Schedule a demo with Buildertrend now to see our software in action.

There’s plenty to be positive about when you get tech on your side. That goes for you, your clients and every member of your crew – including those negative Neds or Nancys.

About the Author

Sean Robinson
Sean Robinson

Sean Robinson is a copywriter at Buildertrend

Return to top