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Work attitude matters for a productive working environment

work attitude

“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” – Winston Churchill

In today’s challenging working environment, successful companies are striving to gain a competitive edge by attracting and retaining the most talented employees, as it is well-known that employees can be a company’s greatest asset.

However, nowadays, HR specialists and many other came to the conclusion that alongside skills and competencies, attitude plays a major role in the workplace.

Attitude represents the beliefs, assessed feelings and behavioral intentions toward people, events or different objects. It refers to judgements and involves conscious logical reasoning.

Attitudes create a chain reaction and it starts from managers and leaders. Moreover, while a leader’s attitude affects his or her team, employees’ attitude affects the organization’s customers and this can potentially have a negative fallout on the business’ success.

A research study conducted by Mark Murphy, the author of Hiring for Attitude, tracked 20.000 new employments and revealed that 46% of them failed within 18 months. What was more surprising was the fact that 89% of them failed for attitudinal reasons (e.g. lack of coachability, low levels of emotional intelligence, bad temper) and only 11% for a lack of skills.

Therefore, in order to maintain a healthy working environment and the kind of culture that will ensure high levels of engagement, managers should look at prospective candidates beyond their skills and experience. They should look for those who demonstrate a positive attitude and afterwards identify their shortcomings and provide job-related training sessions to help enthusiastic employees excel at their work.

What are the benefits of a positive attitude at the workplace?

Once hired, an enthusiastic employee with a great attitude will:

  • Provide good customer services and approach customers proactively;
  • Solve interpersonal conflicts in an effective way;
  • Be a productive employee;
  • Go beyond and above to get along with all co-workers;
  • Respond to constructive criticism with maturity and willingness to improve;
  • Work productively with others and so forth.

What are the effects of having negative attitude in the workplace?

An employee with a bad attitude will:

  • Treat customers disrespectfully;
  • Invest little effort in his/ her work;
  • Cause tensions and spread a feeling of low morale among co-workers;
  • Tend to come in late at and leave early from work;
  • Spread negative gossip about their employer and co-workers;
  • Lead to other negative patterns of behavior within the workplace and so forth.

How can recruiters or managers prevent hiring failure?

Mark Murphy emphasized in his study, ”Hiring for attitude: Research & tools to skyrocket your success rate”, that managers should focus more of their interviewing energy on candidates’ coachability, emotional intelligence, motivation and temper, if they wish to improve their hiring process.

Assessing candidates’ technical competencies is an easy task but will not predict whether the new batch will succeed or fail. The financial costs of hiring failures along with the opportunity cost of not hiring high performers can escalate quickly, even for small organizations.

The first step recommended by Mark is to identify your high-performer attitudes – co-workers whom you enjoy being around, who make your job more pleasurable and are willing to help you whenever you ask them. You would have to pinpoint what are the distinguishing attitudinal characteristics that make those employees a pleasure to work with. It might be the fact that they are highly collaborative, or they have a high level of empathy towards colleagues/ customers and so forth.

The next step is to identify your low-performer attitudes – co-workers with characteristics that impede success and who suck the enthusiasm out of everyone with whom they interact, making them feel frustrated and unhappy.

A few attitudinal characteristics of this type of employees are summarized in the following lines: they are negative about everything, they like to gossip, they always find someone else to blame for their mistakes or they claim undue accomplishments, but with a little research their outputs do not justify their attitude.

Once you have the two lists completed, the next step indicated by Mark Murphy is to ask yourself the following two questions:

  • How does this attitude add value or competitive advantage to this organization? (If the attitude brings no benefit to the organization, it doesn’t belong on the list);
  • Who cares about this attitude? (If the attitude doesn’t bring benefit to your customers, it doesn’t belong on the list).

After answering the two questions and having the two steps completed, managers and recruiters can start developing their interview questions.

It is important to keep in mind that the hiring patterns a manager establishes from the beginning will determine a certain kind of culture and reputation in the long run. It depends on each company if it will be a culture everybody is excited about or one which is ignored by employees, simply seen as another experience until they find something more suitable for them.

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