Attitude Adjustment: Maximizing Potential and Solving Problems
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6 Ways to Optimize Performance Through Openness & Accountability

By: Ethan Schutz

It’s a classic dilemma: the situations where you and your team need to perform at your best – high pressure, high performance business growth scenarios – are inherently stressful, which leads to negative attitudes that slow productivity, stifle creative thinking, and make hitting target goals and objectives much more difficult.

It doesn’t have to be that way! The Human Element® program helps build company cultures of trust, honesty, innovation, and accountability – exactly what is needed for superior performance during critical, challenging times.

To illustrate how this works, we’re going to take a peek inside a healthcare company’s internal processes as they approached the launch of a new facility. Knowing this launch had to happen flawlessly put the team under a lot of pressure, which manifested in negative attitudes that played out in a variety ways.

Sometimes Stress Can Get the Best of You and Your Team

Even with the best of intentions, we can all find ourselves adopting negative attitudes under stressful situations. In the case of our healthcare company, some team members acted like Know It Alls. They were certain they knew what needed to happen for the launch to be successful, and they had no interest at all in anyone else’s input. Other team members adopted the roles of Blame Game Masters; they didn’t care what strategies were used, as long as there was no chance they were going to be held responsible. The DIYers tried to fix everything on their own, never asking for help, while some became Minimalists who got by doing as little as possible. A few took on being the Defenders, who never stopped explaining their reasoning about everything to everyone, while the Quiet Ones were too scared to even voice an opinion. Finally, those who became the Office Gossips were focused on everything but the task at hand.

Everyone Has an Attitude

Negative or unproductive attitudes are pervasive in many organizations. Don White, Plant Manager for Proctor & Gamble, noted after being frustrated with his employees’ performance, “The people that were working for me didn’t seem to be having any more fun than I was… It began to occur to me that the whole idea of behavioral management – trying to control people’s behaviors – was suspect. The problem was…attitude, and it seemed like everyone had one.”

Negativity can be an obvious part of the corporate culture, or it may exist hidden beneath a veneer of polite harmony. That was the case within the healthcare organization. While everyone was nice, respectful, and polite, there was a great deal of mistrust, backstabbing, and a belief that getting ahead was possible only at the expense of one’s co-workers. While the Blame Game Masters were busily pointing out what everyone else was doing wrong, the rest of the team engaged in defensive behaviors to protect themselves, being indirect, protecting their ‘turf’, taking things personally, and forming factions.

Recognizing a Problem is the First Step in Improving the Situation

There are specific, proven techniques a team can use to minimize the impact negative attitudes have on their performance and company culture. The healthcare organization’s personnel wanted to be successful. They were professionally and personally invested in a successful launch. They paid attention during The Human Element® Program and were talking about how they could apply the concepts they learned. Yet even at this point, negative attitudes prevailed. The Know-It-Alls had plenty to say. “There’s no way this will work!” they proclaimed. “People are lazy! They don’t care! What I’ve seen is that they all have bad attitudes.”

What do you think happened next?

We’ll explore how the organization moved forward to a successful solution in our next installment. Stay tuned!