Attitude is critical.  If your attitude is good, then misunderstandings, disappointments and adversity can be handled professionally and kept from escalating in serious problems. But a poor attitude can turn even minor issues into a job-threatening mess.

To read the rest of this article from the Denver Business Journal, see: Don’t let employee with bad attitude prevail

For example: Opal was a young employee, new to a well-functioning team.  Her supervisor had already acknowledged that Opal was bright, competent, personable and likely to be a star.  Unfortunately, in Opal’s mind, she already was a star and entitled to celebrity treatment.

Like other team members, Opal was allowed to work four ten-hour days as long as she adjusted her schedule with the rest of the team to ensure coverage at all times.  But Opal rapidly began taking advantage, setting her own schedule without consulting anyone and taking time off at the beginning and end of the day.

These seemed like minor incidents to her supervisor, who reminded Opal of the team agreement about coordinating schedules and pointed out that she was alienating some people.  Opal became visibly upset and argued vehemently that she deserved special treatment.

Opal took a minor, easily fixed issue and escalated it into a big problem.  Opal’s supervisor told her that the agreement to coordinate flextime was the way it was.  Opal retorted that she didn’t like it and her supervisor could expect her to be displeased and show it.

Opal dimmed her own rising star with her bad attitude, made worse because she was so blatantly self-centered and oblivious to team processes.

Opal then reported her displeasure to her boss’s boss.  Later, when Opal’s supervisor took her for coffee, Opal was smug.  She was sure her supervisor had been reprimanded for not handling her the way she wanted.

But Opal’s supervisor hadn’t been reprimanded.  She had a well-deserved reputation for being a considerate, calm person who built highly productive, caring teams - and her boss assumed Opal was the problem.

Opal’s supervisor told her she expected Opal to “display a wonderful attitude toward me and the rest of the team members, whatever your feelings.”

Opal’s supervisor gave her a great gift by having private conversations, being clear about what it took to rise in that company and offering specific advice to help Opal get back on track.

This was a crucial time for Opal.  She hadn’t gotten what she wanted and had thrown a fit.  She’d acted like she did when she was a child facing her mother – using emotional intimidation and bullying to get her way.  If she didn’t change her attitudes, she’d lose her job.

A major test for us is, what do we do when we’ve made mistakes, been reprimanded or been defeated.  Look at the 100 richest people in the world, the 100 greatest people in all of history, the 100 greatest athletes.  They’ve all made mistakes, been dressed down and defeated … and their setbacks have usually been in public.

If you were Opal’s supervisor, what would you do to try to save a potential star?  Some suggestions are: See whole article for details.

  • Meet away from the office for only one heart-to-heart talk about attitudes required for success.
  • Set clear boundaries – “show this behavior or else” - and stick to them.
  • Review the plan with your manager, including a plan if Opal continues going over your head.
  • Hire a coach, for two sessions maximum, so Opal hears what she needs from an outside expert.
  • Don’t give more chances; don’t reward Opal in hopes she’ll like you and act better.
  • Don’t wallow in self-doubt - you wouldn’t get better results if you were sweeter, kinder and gentler. Opal’s mother never did.

Often, individuals need coaching and organizations need consulting to help them design and implement a plan that fits the situation.  To get the help you need, call Ben at 1-877-828-5543.