A Leopard Can’t Change Its Bad Attitude
Everyone has a poor attitude or bad day once in a while. Unfortunately, there are those whose bad attitude permeates their very being. Bad attitudes can be for a number of reasons.
- Victim thinking
- Some find it difficult to move beyond major disappointments in life.
- An induvial may be clinically depressed.
- Others think the world owes them a living and can’t understand why everything in life is so difficult.
- Some people are grudge holders for whatever cause or reason
- Many people find change more difficult than others.
As a leader, are these your fault? Certainly not. As a leader are you the one who has to deal with these attitudes? Yes, but maybe not in the way you may think.
Many people feel that, that, like a leopard, people can’t change their spots or attitudes. I disagree. Everyone’s attitude is theirs to own and we are each to be held accountable for our emotions and attitudes it’s true. As a leader, we too have the duty to address such behaviors before they infect the entire team. And, yes, with effort and persistence, people can change tier attitudes. Of course, those who are clinically depressed, need help beyond a leader’s talents. Addressing attitudes may sound easy, it isn’t. Here are some tips to help address a team member who has a poor attitude.
- First, exam the company culture and be sure that negative thinking, complaining, and poor accountability are not the norm.
- Set aside a time for a quiet discussion with the team member. This is not a task for addressing at an executive committee meeting or in public.
- Avoid using the accusatory sounding “you” statements. Instead try, something like, “I’d like bring some things to the forefront”, or “We need to have a discussion about…”
- By the same token, avoid using “but or however” after a statement. Example: “Henry, you did a great job on the ABC merger, but, you…or however, such and such was a disaster…”
- If the individual has something to let off steam about, allow time for that. There may be some legitimacy to a complaint. Regardless, do not let this go on too long. It may be helpful to ask, “Whose responsibility is that?” More likely than not, it’s the person’s responsibility.”
- Be specific. Saying, “You need to change your attitude” may be the bottom line, but doesn’t really convey exactly what needs to change.
- Name the behavior directly. For example, “It’s not helpful when you spread gossip, are rude, hurl insults, or when you belittle customers/other team members, make fun of others’ short comings/mistakes, or when you engage in ‘poor pitiful me’ dialog.” Be prepared to state exact quotes you have heard so nothing is vague.
- Be clear about consequences. Express faith in the individual’s ability to change. Indicate what can happen if changes in behavior or not made. Example, I have every confidence that you can make these changes. I can’t force you to change. If change is not forthcoming, then I will have to take disciplinary action. Would you like to begin now or do you need overnight to think about it?
Yes, sometime, we all have disappointments in life or we find we haven’t prepared ourselves for life changes. If a team member is spreading his/her sorrow and disappointment around, it may be necessary to instill the old “mental health days” rule. Depending on the circumstances, a team member may just need a few days off to handle some personal matters, or go for a change of scenery and a new thinking path. It is wise to be clear that you expect a change in behavior when the team member returns to the fold.
Understand that it is still the individual’s responsibility to keep their attitudes in check – not yours. You have enough leopards to worry about.
Graphic Credit: BigStock.com Copyright: Kyslynskyy