How Did Your Team Get That Attitude?
Does your team arrive late, complain about work, and watch the clock? Before you lay all the blame on your people, there might be something else you have overlooked.
As a leader, it’s possible that your own attitude is having an unseen, negative affect on the people who work for you. For example, ask yourself:
- Do you greet people with a smile? Do you engage in conversation when you walk into the office? Or do you walk in with your head down, trying to get to your desk as fast you can (hoping you don’t meet anyone along the way)?
- Do you stay in your office all day instead of walking around to check in with your staff? When you have questions, do you send emails or instant messages — even when the person is only a few feet away from you — because you’re hoping to avoid conversation?
- Do you take the time to debrief with staff when projects or deliverables are completed? Do you forget to acknowledge the good work getting done, only focusing on what’s not getting done?
- Are you also guilty of watching the clock?
What’s Your Mood?
As leaders, we have to be careful how we display our moods. I’m sure you have heard the expression, “fake it till you make it.” Well, there is some truth to that!
As supervisors and leaders — as “the boss” — we don’t have the same latitude as our employees to have a “bad day” or to wear our feelings on our sleeve. Our job is to consistently model the behaviors we want and expect from others in the workplace.
“The key to having a good attitude is the willingness to change.” — John C. Maxwell
Power Challenge 1: Know Your Patterns
Don’t make assumptions about your attitude. Instead, gain awareness about your own patterns of moods or bad days — so you can really determine if it’s time for an attitude adjustment.
Start keeping a notebook. When you notice that your attitude is beginning to suffer, jot down a brief note about it.
These will be the times when you are particularly grumpy and sullen. For example, you may respond to questions with impatience, or find yourself quick to blame those around you for problems.
When you are ready to reflect, scan over your notes.
- What was happening?
- Did a project go awry?
- Maybe you got an email proclaiming that the revenue numbers fell short?
- Did you have an uncooperative employee? Problems at home?
- Or maybe what got you was something as simple as rain… for the third straight day in a row.
Your notes and reflections will help you see how much you do or do not have an ongoing negative mood versus the occasional bad day. And, you may find that a negative attitude is driven by some unresolved issues that need your leadership attention.
Power Challenge 2: Communication Messaging
As a leader, your effectiveness is not just what you say, but also how you say it. It can be disastrous for your workplace if your leadership style couples a pervasive bad attitude with negative communication and body language. Inadvertently, you are creating paranoia, defensiveness — and even fear — among your staff.
It’s always worth recalling the basics from time to time. For example:
- Pay attention to how you speak. Use positive words. Stand with relaxed confidence, and establish eye contact. These are all actions that can increase trust with your staff.
- Don’t forget to smile. Staff will feel that you are open and positive towards them. Further, your smile can improve their attitude… not just your own!
Power Challenge 3: Embrace Mondays
I might be unusual, but I actually love Mondays. I think about and plan for what’s ahead by creating a to-do list or jotting down my goals for the week (both work and personal).
It’s like each Monday is a mini January 1… minus the extra celebration!
It’s not that I’m advocating working all the time. I do believe it’s important to have interests and hobbies outside of work, so that we don’t define our lives solely by our job or career.
But, if our fun and happiness are concentrated into just two days a week — Saturday and Sunday — then we are wasting almost 70% of the week. That’s like living our lives in a limited 48-hour window.
Your staff can sense when you dread Mondays, or had the Sunday Night Blues. When you drag yourself into work your silent body language speaks for you. Then, everyone is going to have a rough start to the week.
Try this new approach to your work week:
- Take 20 minutes every Friday —before you go running out the door — to organize your workspace and make a list of your known to-do’s for the following week. This will make your Monday entry into the office a little easier, a little more organized.
- Do these same steps on Sundays and organize yourself for the week. Plan your meals, make a list of errands or things that have to get done during the week outside of work. If you are a working parent, do this same exercise for your children, especially planning any carpools, snack days, conferences, etc.
By organizing yourself, you too can begin to embrace the start of each new week — and you’ll be setting a great example for your staff.
Power Challenge 4: Find the Balance in Being “Real”
As leaders, we occasionally have a bad day for personal or professional reasons. Planting a fake smile is not going to be effective. If you really are having a bad day, you don’t have to pretend. Just make it the exception rather than the rule.
Let people know that they are not the cause of your mood. You may also find it helpful to use a bit of humor, hope and empathy along the way; find what authentically works within your own particular style.
Meanwhile, watch any tendency that you may have to vent or complain to your staff. It is one thing to respectfully let people know that you’re having a bad day. It’s another to draw people into your bad day with you.
On difficult days, you can bring some further balance to your staff interactions by making an extra special effort to remember the small courtesies. Take the time to authentically say “thank you” to those around you. Express some genuine appreciation for their efforts, even when other things feel difficult to you.
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” — Cynthia Ozick
It Starts with You
Developing a more positive, upbeat attitude won’t happen overnight. Exchanging a bad habit for a good one takes time — longer (I believe) than the thirty days we often see quoted. Plus, it takes drive, determination and focused persistence.
You are the person in charge. Your best chance of creating a work environment that truly supports the people who work for you is to have an authentically positive attitude.
In fact, your improved work environment will encourage creative thinking and strategic planning, with fearless employees who aren’t afraid to take risks. All of that helps you move the company forward!
Embrace the Power Challenges for a positive attitude, and you will be well on your way to a new you!
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. — Winston Churchill
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Carla inspires leaders and team members — and provides real-world tips to become the best version of themselves that they can be. Contact her today.