Bad Attitudes Look for Company, Not Correction

Posted by Rick DeMarco on 23 July 2015

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You’ve heard it said a number of times from recruiters. I would rather hire someone with a great attitude and willingness to improve their skills than someone with great skills and a bad attitude. In a quest for a highly engaged workforce, a bad attitude can quickly derail a team. Effective leaders need to address bad attitudes head on, rather than let them grow and become the driver for a disengaged team. 

It is possible to fix a bad attitude when someone takes the time to understand the root cause and takes action. Inward’s proprietary process for creating a culture of employee engagement involves addressing the WIIFM or What’s In It For Me in any change management effort. When that’s done effectively, oftentimes bad attitudes can be turned into good ones.

So what’s the risk/reward scenario of addressing a bad attitude and not just assuming it will go away?  Well, bad attitudes look for company. Generally, people with bad attitudes aren’t looking for someone to correct their thinking, but rather someone to join in their resistance or displeasure. Think about a time when you were standing around the water cooler listening to others complaining about some recent company decision or action. Peer pressure is a powerful force, so it’s rare that someone in that group would step up and defend the company’s position. So the risk of not addressing a bad attitude is that it grows and absorbs others into its energy.

On the other hand, if you can change someone’s attitude from positive to negative, that conversion can be an energizing force and can dramatically change the level of engagement among team members. A converted skeptic or naysayer can be a powerful champion or ambassador for your cause.

I once heard a client of ours say that the only thing worse than having an employee with a bad attitude leave the company is having one with a bad attitude stay! Have the courage and leadership skills to address bad attitudes head on and you will either create an unexpected advocate for your cause or take action to insure that the bad attitude doesn’t spread and drive a disengaged team.