Choose your attitude, determine your success

Feb 01, 2007

These qualities are the keys to your productivity, to successful recruitment, long-term retention, great customer service and a host of other qualities you need in order to compete and to make a lasting difference.

We all spend too much time at work to allow our lives to be wasted. This is especially relevant when you consider that people spend about 75 per cent of their adult waking time doing work-related activities.

If we spend that much time in that part of our lives, we ought to ensure that we enjoy it and are energised by it.

The first and most important secret of creating an environment that’s fun, energising and where each individual can make a difference is to acknowledge that you can “choose your attitude.”

Attitudes are truly contagious, which is why parents are bothered about whom their children associate with and why so many people dread their dealings with people whose attitude drags them down.

In a workplace situation you can bring a moody attitude and have a depressing day. You can bring a grouchy attitude and irritate your colleagues and clients or you can bring a sunny, playful, cheerful attitude and have a great day. It’s entirely your choice.

Essentially, it’s as simple as asking yourself when you come through the door each day, ‘Is this going to be a good day?’ and answering ‘Yes! I choose to make this a great day!’ If you choose to bring your best self to work and to love the work you do, even if much of it involves routine tasks that have to be done whether you like them or not, you can choose to have a great day every day.

You can’t build a great company without great people. If you study the most successful businesses in the world, you’ll discover that companies competing in a wide range of industries who are intent on recruiting the right people all agree that what people know is less important than who they are.

Recruiting, they believe, is not about finding people with the right experience. It’s about finding people with the right mindset. These companies look for the basic skills they require but above all they seek people with the right attitude and enthusiasm; people who care and want to be the best, who are keen to learn and can be trained.

But how do you get everyone in the workplace to choose their attitude each day?
Amazingly, the answer is very simple. If you start by discussing as a team the importance of attitude, most people will recognise that they can choose their attitude each day and that their attitude will determine their success.

Once that principle has been established, here’s a simple technique that will get everyone to choose their attitude. I suggest you give each team member an ‘Attitude Menu’. This is a two-sided laminated A4 sheet that can be hung alongside their desk. From that menu, each team member is required to make attitude choices each morning when they come to work.

Here’s an example of an attitude menu from one of my clients. The words used are theirs. The ones you choose will probably be different:

On one side is a picture of a frowning face surrounded by negative words or emotions: Indifferent, negative, stressed, unapproachable, frustrated, irritated, avoid, bored, impatient, angry, aggressive, exhausted, negative, apathetic, disinterested, bitter – or whatever else is appropriate to your business and the people in your business.

On the other side is a smiling face surrounded by positive words or emotions: Happy, positive, enthusiastic, alert, focused, caring, approachable, empathetic, patient, interested, jovial, creative, supportive, energetic, vital.

And at the top on both sides it says ‘The choice is yours’.

Another client, the managing director of a very successful furniture manufacturer, was really taken aback when his PA said to him one day: “I can tell what kind of day it will be by the way you walk into the office.”

So they created a ‘grumpometer’ where she scored him each day between zero and five, where zero was exceedingly grumpy and five was very happy.

He didn’t want those low scores, so when he arrived at work each morning he was forced to consider what his attitude should be and almost without fail put himself into a positive frame of mind before he walked through the door. It worked so well that he decided to do the same thing at home and got his little girl to score him each day.

As an extension of this, the most successful companies also engender a ‘can-do’ spirit in all their team members who demonstrate a restless determination to continually improve on their personal bests.

They aggressively pursue new business, determined to add value for their clients with ingenuity, determination and a positive attitude, responding enthusiastically to every new opportunity and every new challenge.

It’s companies with this attitude who are willing to ‘go the extra mile’, responding with extra effort to meet customer needs. Tesco is a wonderful example that immediately springs to mind and this attitude is one of the cornerstones of its phenomenal success.

The bottom line is that you have enormous power over the kind of workplace you create if you’ll learn to choose your attitude every day and choose it well. If you can get everyone in your team to make the same positive choices, your workplace will become a rare oasis of energy, flexibility and creativity that will be apparent to anyone the moment
they walk through your door.

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