Negativity In Your Paranormal Investigation Team
Did you know that negativity most often starts out as a very tiny seed and with each following instance of negativity that original seed gets watered, and in a serious enough happenstance may receive a heavy dose of miracle grow. Let’s say hypothetically that leading a paranormal investigation team is synonymous to tending to a garden. It doesn’t take very long for a seed of negativity to quickly grow into a big weed and without taking care of that weed it will continue to spread and eventually will overwhelm your beautiful garden. As leaders of our team, or the head groundskeeper of our gardens if you will, we are responsible for maintaining an optimum environment that allows our gardens to grow and to ensure that weeds are not allowed to have adverse affects towards our long term plans with our gardens. Over the years I have seen negativity cause people to leave paranormal investigation teams or even cause teams to dissolve. It is the responsibility of the Director of the team as well as anyone in a supervisory role, to ensure that negativity isn’t allowed to be present. It is human nature and prevalent for many people to look at things as the glass is half empty. How many people have you known in your lifetime that had to find the negative side of everything. You could accomplish something great and someone negative will comment something along the lines of “that is great, but” and then they will trail off into some negative statement. There are so many forms of negativity which I will discuss today that can cause problems for your team spirit. Most of us have seen the television show Ghosthunters. Just look at the first season of that show as an example. There was so much negativity and drama between the team members and in the way the team was being lead. Whether or not it was due to production direction by the network or it was legitimate personality conflicts is to be left to the opinion of the viewer. Needless to say that version of their team was an unmitigated disaster. What had to happen for the team to improve? It all started from the top, and when the top of the team’s totem pole changed the way they handled things and held team members accountable for doing the same you saw a massive improvement in the team’s ability to work together and have thorough investigations. Twenty years later they are still on television producing new episodes. I believe that you could say that they were successful in remedying the issues.
What can cause negativity on a paranormal investigation team? Here are a few hypothetical situations that can cause negativity within your team.
Hypothetical Situation 1: You are walking through the door at a team meeting and you are very preoccupied with your own thoughts. While being preoccupied in your own little world you dont acknowledge one of your team members greeting you as you walk by. That team member feels ignored.
Hypothetical Situation 2: You are having a rough day due to a personal issue. You are having difficulty remaining focused. This frustrates you as you had a plan set out for the day and now will be unable to work your plan as you had hoped to. After dealing with a broken piece of investigative equipment you return to your office and you receive a call from a team member who is scheduled to lead an investigation that night. They let you know that they are going to be 15 minutes late due to an unforeseen delay caused by their child’s sports game going into overtime. Due to being in a mood where you are already frustrated you respond to them using a stronger tone of voice commenting about the necessity of arriving at an investigation on time, forgetting that family comes before paranormal investigating.
Hypothetical Situation 3: You have a team member named Debbie Downer. Debbie sees everything in her life from the vantage point that the glass of milk is half empty. The mere mention of an evolution of a procedure sends her into a rant. When you ask her how she is or how her day is going she can be counted on focusing on something that is wrong. Debbie loves sharing her negativity with her colleagues. It brings them down as well.
Hypothetical Situation 4: You come back from having a week long vacation with your family. While you were away you had delegated some of your responsibilities to a few members of your team. You proceed to check the email and voicemail of your paranormal investigation team. You notice that the person responsible for keeping an eye on the email account missed an email requesting urgent help that was sitting in the spam folder. Upon reviewing your team’s investigational equipment you notice that some of the equipment hadn’t been plugged in to charge. You pull together your team on a group phone call and you ignore the fact that thirteen of the fifteen tasks that you had left for them to do were completed. You consciously choose to only address the two tasks that weren’t completed. You never recognize the work that was completed and focus on the two tasks that didn’t get done. You leave them feeling beaten and not appreciated, just because you chose to not control your own frustration brought on by choosing to focus on negativity.
Think about how each of the above situations may be perceived by your team members. While one particular situation may be more prominently undesirable than another each has the ability to have adverse reactions on our goals to keep team member morale at a high standard.
Imagine that you are having a team meeting about a new investigation procedure that you wish to implement. One of the team members is named John Smith. John has been with your team since its inception and doesn’t always respond well to change. When John hears about the new investigation procedure he proclaims that it will never work. You ask him why it wont work and he explains that it didn’t work for another investigation team and suggests due to that reason that the new procedure would not work well for your team. You ask him why it didn’t work for the other team and he informs you that some members of the team didn’t support the new procedure. You ask him why some of the team didn’t support the new procedure and after a short time to reflect on the question John states that that most likely it was due to the team not being properly educated about the new procedure and the science behind it. You ask John if we educate our team members and the science behind it that the new procedure may benefit the team? John agrees that it may work if all the team members are properly educated about the new procedure. Using open ended questions you addressed John’s initial negative reaction to a situation.
Some other causes of negativity on your team can include the following:
- Excessive workload and worry of ability to meet deadlines
- Team member concerns about the ability of the leadership team to manage the administrative tasks and lead the team
- Team member anxiety pertaining to team happenings and their future with the team
- Lack of challenge in their duties (boredom)
- Not progressing in a career as they had hoped to
- Lack of or insufficient positive recognition
- Poor communication from leadership or colleagues
- Insufficient training
- Not feeling valued
- Being spoken to in an unfriendly tone of voice by other team members or team leadership
- Someone not being treated as an equal
- Being referred to as “staff” or “employee” vs “colleague” or “team member”
- Leadership not being open to feedback
- Perception that leadership isn’t doing their fair share of physical labor
- Not being permitted ownership in their responsibilities
- Unfair scheduling
- Being told what to do instead of being asked to complete a task
- Different people being held to different basic standards
- Inadequate resources to complete assigned tasks
- Lack of role clarity
- Outdated technology
- Perceived discrimination
- Inadequate performance management
- Tardiness and absenteeism
- Domineering leadership or colleagues
- Subversive behavior
- Unhealthy competition
I just listed 30 things that could possibly grow negativity on your team. I am sure that you could come up with plenty of more examples of what can cause negativity on your paranormal investigation team. Needless to say the list can be almost endless.
Some years back I received an email from a paranormal team director about issues that he was having with his team. Having decades of leadership experience he asked me to intervene to help work out the issues. Within a short period of time I had a discussion with each member of the entire team including leadership. I wanted to give everyone an opportunity to recognize wins within the team as well as a chance to speak about opportunities that they perceive within the team. During these discussions it became extremely clear to me that there was an undeniable opportunity that had to be addressed immediately. The team wasn’t just unhappy, they were miserable. More than half of the team was ready to quit if things didn’t improve quickly. While there were a multitude of reasons why everyone was upset there were two situations in particular that was causing such a high level of negativity within the team. One opportunity was that a few team members were frequently gossiping about their colleagues and complaining about the unhappy situation within the team. While there was already a proverbial grey cloud over the team the behavior of a few team members turned that overcast sky into a strong storm. The other big problem was that when concerns were being communicating to leadership the concerns weren’t being addressed or followed up upon. Leadership was being very passive and hoped that things would fix themselves. I provided advice to the team leadership of what the concerns were and gave them some suggestions of how to remedy them.
Within a month I had a followup discussion with each team member and every single one of them were no longer contemplating quitting and they were optimistic about their future with the team. How did this situation get turned around so drastically in a short period of time? I didn’t do anything special to remedy the situation. I simply made a list of every concern that was brought to my attention and made sure that the team leadership addressed every single one of them in a short period of time. I ensured that resources were available for the team to complete their responsibilities. I worked with the leadership team on how they were interacting with the team. I opened the line of communication between the team members and leadership. I coached the team members on how their behavior was complicating the already difficult environment within the team. There was one team member in particular that was engaging in an immense amount of gossiping and focusing on their negative perception of situations. It was addressed. I provided team members and leadership with more direction and training. More importantly I treated every concern as a “big rock.” Not a single concern was treated as trivial. Within a month I was able to earn the respect of the entire team and turn around a very concerning situation simply by listening to the concerns of the team and focusing on addressing them. In turn the team members respected each other and the team leadership.
Do you want to eliminate negativity within your team? Find out everyone’s concerns and remedy them. It’s that simple. Lead by example and keep an upbeat and friendly personality 100% of the time regardless of what mood you are in or how bad your day is going. You are an adult and unless you have a medical situation you have full control over how you conduct yourself. The surest and easiest way to remedy negativity is to conduct yourself in a way that prevents negativity in the first place and to develop your leadership team to do the same.
Sometimes you may have to remove a weed from your garden, or in our field of study you may have to remove a member from your team if their negativity doesn’t improve with your coaching. Do you want your team to underperform and be unsuccessful? The sure fire way of that happening is to gossip, don’t treat everyone as equals regardless of team position or title, talk down to people, order people around, stroke your own ego at the expense of your team, and play favorites.
Look deep inside yourself and push aside any denial. If you choose to be negative you are choosing to spread your own unhappiness. If you are that person either knock it off or resign from the team. Don’t be the sour apple. Unfortunately I have found that the sour apples tend to be in denial about it and get defensive if spoken to about it. Yes, even more negativity. Sometimes someone has to be removed from the team for the greater good.
If you are in leadership of a team you must remember every decision has to be based upon what is best for the team and not what is best for one individual, especially yourself. Don’t use your team as a whole or the members individually in a futile attempt to make yourself look more important, seem or feel superior, or for a false sense of elevated stature within the community around you.
Eliminate negativity and you will see a massive improvement in your team.