When disappointments become resentments against another person, they can fester into harmful grudges, poisoning the grudge-bearer. A previous post looked at some of the ways in which bearing a grudge affects employees, and how they can let go.

Could there be something that companies can do – proactively – to create a culture where the likelihood of grudge-holding is lowered?

  • Address mistakes without labelling people. Mistakes happen at work and while these can lead to extra hours of work for you or a less-than-ideal project outcome, it is important to remember that no one is perfect. Adopt realistic expectations from colleagues, and avoid immediately labelling mistakes as a failure, incompetence, or malicious intentional act. This mindset helps diffuse negative feelings that give rise to grudges. 
  • Run frequent communication programs among employees and managers. Give employees as well as managers skills to deal with workplace mistakes, communicate frustration, and reorient to project/career goals. This empowers workers to shift from victim mindsets, where they wallow in negative thoughts, to one of control and accountability.
  • Set a realistic team culture. Aggressively pushing co-workers to have a ‘family’ mindset can be counter-intuitive. Not everyone in your team needs to like each other, but they do need to learn to work together. Focus on team building activities that help members deal with conflicts, negotiate well, communicate effectively, and own up to mistakes, rather than forcing everyone to be friends.
  • Encourage collaboration rather than rivalry. Ill-feelings towards co-workers can stem from a toxic work culture that misconstrues workplace rivalry as a key ingredient to success. Research from Deloitte shows that collaborative strategies make businesses twice as likely to outgrow their competitors. Managers can enable such a culture by rewarding individual achievements while recognizing team effort, weeding out their own biases, and being a servant leader to their team.

Remember: everyone in the company is trying to do their job as well as they can within the system. Building a workplace free from grudges helps your employees stay connected to others, gives them purpose, and fosters a healthy work environment.

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