David Wray

CommunicationLeadershipSkills

Infectious Attitudes, do I want to catch yours?

Photo credit: onlyyouqj

What is an infectious attitude?

A few years ago, I worked with a team whose leader was bright and caring but at times displayed overt disdain for senior management with team members. Her infectious attitude became a slow-moving negative force within the rank and file. After several months, it even affected her strongest performer!

How do you deal with a team member exhibiting a negative infectious attitude? The easiest answer (but not necessarily the best one) is terminating the individual’s employment. Clearly it addresses the immediate issue; but does it solve the underlying one? In my experience, such actions generally address symptoms rather than causes.

How and why does this happen in so many workplaces? 

There is a plethora of reasons, although one commonly surfaces! It happens when an individual feels undervalued, that their opinions don’t matter or they’re unable to influence their work environment. In this moment seeds are sown that lay the foundation for negativity to thrive.

What is the best remedy?

In a word: prevention. Some easy steps can encourage a rise in attitudes worth catching:

  1. Talk to team members regularly: the simple act of a one to one chat exchanging business updates, ideas, brainstorming options and listening to what the individual needs to feel challenged and engaged pays future dividends.
  2. Deliver on promises: Promise only what you know you can deliver and do exactly what you say you will do. This establishes trust and rapport with team members. As my mother used to say: “you have to work ten times harder to rebuild broken trust than to maintain it”.
  3. Engage the team with change: Engagement in change initiatives empower individuals to influence outcomes and make positive contributions. Team members feel valued.
  4. Seek regular feedback: Leaders that operates without feedback effectively operate with one hand tied behind their back. Engaged individuals provide early warning indicators, offer unique insights and are the reliable anchors needed in high performing teams. Seek honest feedback and do so with a non-judging attitude – otherwise it could well be the last time the individual shares their honest views!
  5. Personalize individual rewards: As a leader, I discovered that each person on the team had unique needs and wants. Rewards should be meaningful to the individual because generic or company standard rewards can demotivate more than no reward at all. For instance, some value time off, others monetary awards and still others appreciate a special evening with a significant other. Take time to learn what matters, it will go a long way in fostering goodwill and loyalty.

Simple steps that create an environment where individuals feel valued. Where value translates into better outcomes and employee engagement. The essential ingredients in strong performers and high performing teams. It is within your control to ensure the team’s attitudes are worth catching!

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