Solving problems with positive energy

Positive energy you create helps you move more easily through difficult and challenging times and will do the same for those you encounter. How you approach problems and opportunities will ultimately determine how your employees view the obstacles that are sometimes placed in their way.It’s no secret that our effectiveness and efficiency suffer as life becomes more complicated, but positive energy helps engage problem-solving capacity, get things done and keeps everyone moving in productive ways. In business, and in life, that’s definitely a “YES” proposition.Q. We have always given fairly significant bonuses to our staff. This year for the first time we cannot afford to do any bonuses. I’m really worried about the impact on the workforce given that they are expecting them. What is the best way to communicate this bad news?A. First of all, your company is not alone. Almost every industry has been affected by the economy, and many companies have not been in a position to give raises or bonuses for the past few years. This is difficult for employees to understand, and even when they understand it, they are almost certainly wishing things were better with salaries and wages.The best way to communicate any news is to be direct, honest, calm and timely. Most employees will be disappointed, but they will appreciate knowing what to expect and your credibility as a leader will be strengthened. Be as transparent as you possibly can be, and also accept the reality that no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to eliminate employee disappointment.I’m optimistic that better days are ahead, and that salary increases, which are overdue and well-deserved, will be back in play soon.Q. My boss and I have become great friends. Is it OK to invite her to parties at my house, or is that inappropriate? Where is the line between personal and professional?A. Unfortunately, I don’t have an easy, black-and-white answer for you. Friendships at work are common, and can be wonderful, and every once in a while, they end up being a disaster and fraught with problems. Pay attention and stay alert. If you feel problems developing, confront them head-on, and be clear about your concerns. Ultimately, the best advice I can offer is to listen to and trust your intuition.Q. I work in an organization where trust is critical. I made a mistake and told what I considered to be a “white lie” and now my credibility has been damaged. How do I get people to understand that, I can be trusted again?A. Was it a white lie like, “your butt doesn’t look big in those jeans,” or a white lie like, “I did the report all by myself,” when in fact a co-worker did most of the work?A lot depends on the white lie, how and who it impacted, and how “white” it actually was! That said, real trust is earned over time. So be trustworthy, and over time your reputation will repair itself. If you feel talking directly to the parties involved, and even apologizing would help, it might speed up the repair work. And above all else, be glad you’ve learned the importance of trust, and carry its lesson with you in your future personal and professional worlds.Paul Boynton, president and CEO of The Moore Center, Manchester, is also a personal coach, corporate consultant, motivational speaker, host of the television show, “Begin with Yes” and author of the book by the same name. He can be reached at