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Nearly all business owners have gone through it at some point. A series of bad hires or negative employees that can tank your entire team. All too often we concentrate on skill level in our hiring when the attitude of your team has as much to do with your company success’s as employee skills do.

Here are some quick tips on building your own unstoppable workforce:

Cut Your Losses

If you haven’t been concentrating on hiring workers with a positive attitude, you may have a few bad apples on your team. Even if those team members are good producers or fairly skilled employees, waste no time in weeding these people out.

I’ve learned the hard way that one negative person who tends to the stir the pot can take down a number of employees that were previously great team players. Let them go.

Change Your Hiring Practices

On everything from your employment ads to your interview questions, express how important it is that your employees are positive, upbeat individuals. See which job candidates catch on to this and make it a point to give you examples of ways they have previously brightened their workplace or affected their fellow co-workers in a good way.

Look at body language. Does the applicant smile a lot in the interview? Do they ask questions in the interview that express interest in their potential future teammates? Or do they focus on themselves and what’s in it for them?

Verify, Verify, Verify

When you call on references, just how much are you digging? If a former employer will only verify dates and position, that’s possibly a red flag. Don’t hesitate to ask for additional references until you can talk to at least 2 former supervisors. Ask them for a rating on a scale of 1 – 5 as to the employee’s attitude, teamwork ability and how well they were liked by their coworkers.

Pay attention to attendance ratings as well. I’ve noticed a correlation between attendance issues and negativity. If someone misses work a lot, it’s often due to personal drama that affects that employee’s attitude at work as well as at home. Avoid hiring people with a mediocre attendance rating by a former employer.

Incentivize Kindness

Spotlight Your Teamplayers on Social Media

Most sales teams have opportunities to earn bonuses for production and that’s fine, but what can you do to foster helpfulness and cohesion? We implemented a Colleague of the Quarter contest. Team members vote for each other for this award and give reasons why they feel their candidate is deserving. The winner gets a gift certificate and a spotlight on our company Facebook page that tells a little about them.

Interestingly enough, this has actually spurred campaigns that are often funny and quite engaging by certain employees who wish to win the honor. Our employees have baked cookies for entire office, left treats for one another on their desk. One employee collected incoming faxes and delivered them to coworkers’ desks with a post-it note that said “Vote for Joye!” Everyone found this entertaining.

If one person can’t complete a sale because they are not licensed in a particular state, their coworkers who are licensed in that state now go out of their way to offer assistance in closing that business with no personal gain.

When we announce the winner in our team meeting, we read aloud some of the comments their co-workers had to say about them. It always summons many laughs and smiles. The sense of unity is palpable.

Bolster Friendly Competition

Last quarter we ran a contest where we split our employees into two teams. They invented their own team names and were allowed to promote them. They competed for a production goal and the friendly rivalry was very entertaining.

Our winning team enjoyed a company-sponsored bowling night at Main Event, where we provided drinks and food. Events like this make great pictures for your company social media pages too.

Get Away

Likewise, teams that play together stay together. Try sponsoring off-site events like ballgames or company happy hours. We close early on the day of these events and they are always well attended. Mix up the seating so people can get to know one another.

Recognize Effort Publicly

Another way we encourage positivity here is to bonus our staff for good reviews from our new clients. The employees get to choose their favorites and then we display them on our website using a sidebar widget. You can see an example here.

Since we started this program, everyone makes a special effort to go the extra mile for our clients so they can score these reviews.

Ask for Feedback

Lastly, find out from your staff which team events they have most enjoyed. Then repeat them as often as possible. Implementing these tips can turn a negative or lackluster staff into an engaged and happy one in just a few short months.