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Jul 9
Do You Have an Attitude Problem?

Well Do You?

Recently, I challenged my management students to think about the concept of "bad attitudes." What makes them, and where they come from. One of my students, Shannon Backus absolutely nailed this question!

Most people always relate attitude with "bad attitude". I feel that a person's attitude is a direct reflection of how they are feeling inside as a person, or a direct reflection of their surroundings. For example, If a person is having a hard time at home with their children, it may show in their attitude at work or visa-versa. If a person is having a hard time with a co-worker they may take it out on their family when they get home from work. It's very hard to change your attitude from one place to another.

Of course, there's not much of a need to focus on someone that has a great positive attitude. But, focus should definitely be put on correcting a bad or negative attitude within the workplace. If we don't' try to get to the root of the problem with the employee, the employee's bad or negative attitude will most likely start a chain reaction within the office. It's important to have an open door policy with your employees and maintain a certain rapport with them so that they will feel comfortable trusting in you to help with their problem

Did you catch what Shannon said in the first paragraph? It’s the key to understanding the anatomy of an attitude.

My definition of an “attitude” is that it’s the action phase of what a person’s internal values are. So what are values? Values are those internal convictions we have – most of them formed early in life and affirmed through our family, friends and experiences. Values can be anything that we hold onto tightly. In fact our values might be the last thing we would ever give up – and would do it with a fight! So then our attitude is tied directly to our values.

Where does the “bad” attitude come from?

Other research shows the human beings have a hard time functioning if their deeply held values are not affirmed or are challenged by their surroundings. So my thoughts on “bad” attitudes in the workplace revolve around incongruence.

What does this mean?

If my personally held values are not affirmed by the organization I work for, or if they are even ridiculed, I’ll develop verbal or non-verbal responses, mostly negative. What others will then see in me is a “bad attitude.”

Let’s say that I value positive feedback and lots of affirmation. If I’m working for an organization that doesn’t give positive feedback and I’m feeling like I’m being ignored, this will show in my countenance, my demeanor, and maybe in my body language and my tone of voice. Over a period of time, this can progress to the point that you’ll look at me and say, “Malcolm’s really developed an ‘attitude.’” Does that make sense? If it does, would it be safe to assume that I’m not a total dirtbag – that maybe there’s a reason for my “attitude?” I think so.

So my advice for you when it comes to dealing with the “attitude” is to look deeper. Figure out where the disconnect is between the values and the environment. If you take the time to do this, you may be able to salvage someone who is destined for poor performance, poor reviews, and probably eventual termination.

This one task can set you in the category of “leader” – and you owe it to your people and your organization!

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