There is no doubt, employee attitudes affect productivity, quality, morale; collegiality, cooperation, and cohesion; employee development; and retention as well as turnover. Good employee attitudes drive positive results. Bad employee attitudes put a drag on results. That’s a fact proven by study after study, including our own research.
Do not make the three most common mistakes that most managers make when dealing with “bad attitudes”:
As long as you think of attitude as a personal, internal matter, it is going to remain intangible and you will remain out of your depth. Feelings are on the inside. Observable behavior is on the outside. That observable behavior can be seen, heard, and felt. No matter how intrinsic the source may be, it is only the external behavior that can be and must be managed. As a leader, dealing with attitude becomes a whole lot easier if you treat it head-on, directly, as just another matter of performance management. Here’s my best advice:
Everybody has bad days or bad moments. In our career seminars, we do an exercise — NOT to help a person find out whether or not he/she has a bad attitude. The purpose is to help each person figure out for him/herself: When you do have bad days or bad moments— what kind of bad attitude behavior are you most likely to display? Armed with that information, the person should be better prepared to avoid that behavior and take corrective action more swiftly when it does happen.
So we take them through a series of questions to help them determine the bad attitude behaviors to which they are most susceptible:
When you can make “attitude” —good and bad— less vague and more about specific observable behaviors, it helps people become more aware and more purposeful about mitigating their negative behaviors and accentuating their positive behaviors. Make it explicit, talk about it, focus on it, and watch the attitudes get better.
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