When attitude is the issue…
It seems to be the number one challenge in Thai organisations today, and one we are so often asked to help with.
In some cases, managers might expect us to come back with an instant solution… ‘Ah yes, you need to do this…’ – as though they are visiting a doctor for a remedy for a cold.
Most however do recognise that the problem goes deeper than anything a ‘quick-fix’ can address.
So we thought this post may help those wishing to understand the issue of ‘attitude’ more deeply.
First, it’s essential to understand that attitude is not a cause but an effect. What exactly do we mean by that? Sure, people with a ‘bad attitude’ certainly can cause a lot of trouble and stress. That’s not what we mean by a cause, however.
Instead, we mean that the ‘attitude’ is caused from within a person, making it an effect.
So in order to ‘treat’ attitude it’s essential to understand what kind of causes may be at work, so that we can help channel or overcome them.
Simply put, someone’s attitude is defined by whether they see an item, person, place or task positively or negatively. But why is it that one person can see a task as being favourable, while another person can see the same task as being unfavourable and even negative?
This post breaks down the effects of attitude based on different areas and ‘issues’ and gives pointers as to where you can start to address the issue:
1. When ‘task’ is the issue
Task is usually an issue if a person has a negative attitude towards the tasks required in his job – but not always.
It may be the person resents his boss or the people or organisation he works with, thus making him loath to perform the task.
But assuming you’re sure that it is a task that the person is reacting towards negatively, the next step is to understand why.
Square pegs in round holes
Few people enjoy every aspect of their work 100%. However, if I were to divulge that an incredible 83% of us don’t get the opportunity to work to our strengths every day, would that surprise you?
Because that is exactly what Gallup have discovered after survey upon survey worldwide.
How does this relate to our attitude at work? One item of the Gallup Q12 (employee engagement survey instrument) zeroes in on the opportunity employees have to work to their strengths. It’s this score that often ranks poorly in many companies – but also this score that is the most important!
More often than not in Thailand (this is also true in other parts of the world) employees take up jobs in companies not because that is what they want to do, but because what their parents wanted, or how they were conditioned (see our post Square Pegs in Round Holes for more on this), or because of the pay, or because the job happened to come up at a time when theyr were looking.
In other words, mostly superficial reasons when the one core factor companies (presumably!) should want their employees do is to develop their strengths.
It’s because of the syndrome above that ‘negative attitudes’ so often are an issue. It falls on organisations themselves to resolve these issues, or face widespread employee disengagement and loss of motivation and morale.
>> What companies can do when task is the issue >>
When you think task is the issue, the key approach is to identify the individuals’ talents (note – not ‘skills’, ‘knowledge’ or ‘intelligence’) and try to mould the work to the person’s talents. We call this making the ‘talent-task’ connection.
Talent Technologies offers individuals a precise assessment of their talents using the gold-standard Highlands Ability Battery.
Having helped hundreds of individuals to refocus their work and careers around their strengths, we couldn’t recommend it more!
Highlands not only helps individuals identify their talents and develop their strengths, but is also invaluable in terms of team and career development.
2. When ‘people’ are the issue
Another effect of ‘attitude’ is when an employee or colleague works hard and is productive, but has a ‘bad attitude’ towards his co-workers, managers or customers.
Negative attitudes towards people are more complex than those towards task. Here’s why:
• A person’s attitude towards people may not be a negative attitude at all and be misunderstood.
• A person’s attitude towards people may have been caused by a deep experience or ‘legacy event’ from childhood.
• A person’s attitude towards one person may be caused by his or her relationship to another completely unrelated person and be a case of ‘contagion’
• A person’s attitude may be the effect of a ‘suppressed message’ to another person, where an ‘attitude’ is considered safer than confrontation.
• A person’s attitude towards people may be caused by an unfulfilled (or unknown) dream, or the substitution of that dream with a fantasy
• A person may not even be aware that he or she has a ‘negative attitude’ towards people.
• A person may be aware of his or her negative attitude, but blames it on another person.
>> What companies can do when people are the issue >>
When people are the issue, we need really to understand which of the above bullet points are closest to reality (this is never an exact science and there are usually a combination of causes at work).
Once we are able to make a diagnosis (for example through an employee engagement survey or 360° feedback) we can move towards development.
These may include the following initiatives:
Emotional Intelligence. Participants learn the skills and practices of Knowing Themselves, Choosing Themselves and Giving Themselves on this programme that features hands-on follow-ups. This helps with individual’s positive energy, their self-awareness and awareness of others, and interpersonal communication.
Productivity Factor. Often ‘negative attitude’ is caused by boredom and frustration – and these often follow the absence of a personal vision and life goals. In the case of frustration, a person may have the goals, but does not know how to execute them.
Productivity Factor helps participants articulate those goals and put a plan in place to deliver on them. The programme’s strength is its ability to enable participants to see their challenges from their life vision (or ‘50,000 feet’) down, and from the realities of daily pressure (‘runway level’) up.
Communication Factor. This programme helps participants articulate messages at work – and thus avoid the negative energy of a ‘bad attitude’ before it becomes toxic.
Sometimes ‘attitude’ may be justifiable (i.e. if a person feels someone else has wronged him or her – see ‘suppressed message’, above), in which case Communication Factor helps with the skills and technique of constructive feedback and difficult conversations.
Talent Factor In Talent Factor, participants gain an in-depth knowledge of their weaknesses and strengths, and then articulate their personal vision based on their talents and natural gifts.
This helps participants who have an unfulfilled need or dream, and to whom a career path and direction would be helpful.
Goals Goals Goals!
Usually individuals can overcome their negative attitudes or moods by identifying deep, life goals that resonate with them spiritually.
The above programmes help participants on this course, taking them in each case from discovery to action.
If ‘attitude’ is an issue in your organisation, it’s worth bearing in mind that there is rarely a ‘quick fix’ and that, as the adage goes ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint!’
What do you think? Feel free to add a comment below or fill out the contact form here if you would like more information.
Talent Technologies :: Taking your Talent to a Higher Level