Leadership Challenge: How Long Do You Coach a Bad Attitude?
by Kate Nasser |
Leadership Challenge: Coaching a Bad Employee Attitude
Business success in any size enterprise depends on positive can-do attitudes. It is also weakened and destabilized by just one bad attitude. The leadership challenge is how long do you coach a bad attitude?
Leadership Challenge: Does One Negative Attitude Mean You’re a Bad Leader?
Some leaders and managers make it their ultimate goal to transform the one employee with the bad attitude. They believe that their leadership challenge is to change that one employee’s attitude from negative to positive.
Once such manager recently asked me, “how long do you work on the bad morale of a negative employee?” This manager had been trying for six months with no change. I replied, never! You cannot work on someone else’s morale. People choose and own their individual attitudes.
The true leadership challenge is how to inspire employees with basically positive attitudes to reach the heights of success. It isn’t to coach a bad attitude.
The latter is a waste of time and money. The team members who bring a positive can-do attitude use your inspiration to magnify success. An employee with a bad attitude uses you and team members to live their negative life choice.
Coaching a bad attitude means you are spending time on their mission instead of the mission of the organization. It drains other team members’ morale. Often they leave to escape the stress. They blame the leader for not stopping the endless negativity of the one employee. Then the leadership challenge becomes the desperate attempt to keep the great talent in house!
Well, what do I mean by a bad attitude? I am not speaking about an employee who offers a different view, contributes alternate solutions, or is having an occasional bad day.
A employee with a bad attitude is consistently unmotivated, rarely offers to help, is constantly negative, analyzes but doesn’t deliver, and refuses to work with necessary constraints.
If you find yourself thinking, but this negative employee …
- Just needs more time to develop a positive attitude
- Will come around eventually
- Is still recovering from the previous bad boss
- Is having a rough year
- Is young and immature
- Is good in a crisis
… you are not meeting your leadership challenge. You are experiencing denial and delay.
Positive attitudes do not develop over time. As long as you are exhibiting good leadership, the employee must choose to forget the last boss and give you a new chance. Youth and negativity are not inherently connected. Lastly, people who are good in a crisis do not bring everyone else down in normal situations.
Ask yourself, how does upper management define the leadership challenge? Would upper management be swayed by the above list when trying to assess the value of your organization? Or would they ask you to calculate the cost of having employees who don’t use positive attitudes to deliver great results?
Leaders, if you struggle with the idea of expecting a positive attitude, ask yourself why? Do you …
- Want to be liked by each employee more than you want to inspire the whole team
- Fear the necessary conversation about a bad attitude
- Believe you have the power to change people
- Believe that expecting and requiring a positive attitude means you are a tyrant
- Feel bad about yourself if an employee has a bad attitude toward the job
- Believe that positive employees won’t want to work in your organization
I see this trend among certain personality types, managers who are leading their former peers, and leaders who replaced a rough demoralizing micro-manager.
Break your own cycle. Consider what positive can-do team members do …
- Offer realistic solutions to fix frustrating/difficult situations they don’t like.
- Own their occasional bad day. When they ask for help, they try the suggestions you offer vs. negating your ideas and continuing to complain.
- Learn from many situations – the good and the bad – instead of complaining about them.
- Take action and collaborate to deliver success.
Now picture what you will expect of everyone. A positive attitude to create business success now. Remember, someone who is capable of choosing a positive attitude can choose it now. An employee who had a dictatorial boss before could be thrilled by a chance to work with a better leader now. Young employees can be positive about the possibilities that lie ahead. Team members who are positive in a crisis have the mental strength to choose a positive attitude everyday.
Get back on track. Focus on the true leadership challenge of inspiring great results. Expect a positive attitude and inspire the possibilities that come from it!
- Foster an active learning culture.
- Feature team successes and lessons learned.
- Ask for solutions; don’t just give them.
- Recognize innovative thought, outstanding effort, commitment, and action.
- Express your appreciation at the end of the week for tough situations handled well.
- Let no one disillusion or distract you and the team from the leadership challenge and organization mission.
Positive attitudes don’t deny the difficulties the team faces. They are the very fuel for overcoming obstacles. Create an environment for a positive can-do attitude and then expect it from everyone!
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™
©2011-2014 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. I appreciate your sharing the link to this post on your social streams. However, if you want to re-post or republish the content of this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for permission and guidelines. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.