Attitude is Everything: Team players embrace mop-and-bucket philosophy
Proponents on one side stridently proclaim that education is the key. On the other hand, high-profile school dropouts who have become successful entrepreneurs or political leaders adamantly declare that leaving school was the best thing they ever did.
But this argument is moot. Why? Because my experience searching for the right candidates and assisting companies with employee-relations issues has demonstrated that personal attitude plays a much stronger role in career success than education and experience.
The late Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy's hamburger chain, said it the best. When asked what made him so successful; he replied, "my MBA." But he didn't mean a graduate degree in business education, he meant "a mop- and-bucket attitude." In other words, no work task was too insignificant for him to tackle; he simply jumped in and got the job done.
Attitude is a person's perception and personal response to life and work events happening around them. Negatively focused employees see life and work as a glass half-empty. Always seeing the bad side of situations, they complain, whine and blame. There's no energy, just resistance to work tasks, to change and even to the success of others.
Frankly, they're not very nice to be around and their poor attitude drives down employee morale and productivity. Well, businesses can't afford a negative attitude and neither can your career.
Positive employees on the other hand, see the glass as half-full. They see opportunity and want to work toward filling the glass.
There's an aura of energy around them, they're pleasant, cheerful and happy. Typically, they are good team players. In fact, they are a model of Dave Thomas' "mop-and-bucket attitude."
But let's get more specific. What attitudinal behaviour should employers look for?
Here's my top 10 list:
1. Sense of Modesty. Modesty, rather than an "I've got more education than you!" attitude is critical to developing and maintaining positive work relationships. An individual whose ego is so self-inflated with intellectual arrogance because of educational qualifications will quickly run into trouble. Eventually team members will reject and avoid them and productivity will suffer.
2. Sense of Equality. Everyone in an organization contributes through their assigned roles. While some may not be at a professional level, they still deserve to be treated with respect. There's nothing that irks me more than an exaggerated sense of personal importance accompanied by a condescending attitude toward others.
3. Personal Independence. Every new employee needs orientation, but once completed, career success comes to the individual who can work within broad job guidelines and who has the attitude of "I'd like to try it myself." Demanding constant supervision and sometimes just pure attention is too much of a strain on day-to-day management.
4. Life is an Oyster. People who look at life as an opportunity to grow are willing to take on challenging responsibilities. They will roll up their sleeves until the task is done. Individuals with a "world owes me a living" attitude have a demanding, selfish work approach that drains energy away from everyone around them.
5. Patience. Our "microwave" society has taught us to demand that our personal desires be met sooner than later. So an individual who accepts that career maturity takes time and who doesn't demand an over-inflated starting salary or an inappropriate increase after only three months on the job is a pleasure to have in an organization.
6. Long-term thinking. An individual who can see past immediate rewards is typically someone who recognizes the benefits of broad-based experience. This person will be more flexible, will try out new things and will "hang in there" for the long haul.
7. Group thinking. I'm all for looking after your own career first, but when this attitude becomes "What's in it for me?" it turns into an unhealthy self-centeredness that will negatively impact the overall organization.
8. Can-do attitude. Conscientiousness and drive will take an employee a long way to success. Look for enthusiasm, someone who takes a task and runs with it, someone whose motto is "I can!"
9. Sharing Attitude. How many times have you encountered a secretive, protective person who at the same time attempts to drain every detail from you? These aren't team players. They are insecure, selfish, and competitive people who are not trustworthy. Eliminate them from your organization and replace them with sharing individuals.
10. Sincerity. Sincerity and integrity are critical to both career and corporate success. You can spot insincerity a mile away. These individuals smile and use all the right words, but skirt around your questions and provide vague answers. They ask your opinion then blatantly ignore it; they have an excuse for everything and then trash you behind your back. Who needs it?
Most people with poor attitudes are not self-aware and believe everyone else is at fault. But, negative employee attitudes will drive down company morale and productivity so it's important to quickly eliminate these types of individuals from your candidate selection pool.
As an employer be sure to identify the positive work attitudes needed in your business and include them in your selection criteria. Then, determine the types of work examples that would convince you of a candidate's attitude and then create questions to match. For those of you who are job candidates you'd better test your attitude!
About the author
Barbara J. Bowes, FCHRP, CMC is president of Legacy Bowes Group. She is also host of the weekly BowesKnows radio show and is the author of Resume Rescue and Taming the Workplace Tigers. She can be reached at email@example.com://www.barbarabowes.com
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