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Building Positive Attitudes at Work

By Dr. Alan Zimmerman

If you're a manager, you can't afford to have negative, non-performing employees on your payroll. 3M discovered that. When management laid off the bottom 10% (their poorest performers) at one facility — their productivity skyrocketed up 18%. When they laid off another 10% (the next poorest set of performers) — productivity went up another 4%. 3M learned that negative employees not only produce less, but they also they cost more.

Negative employees destroy morale and turn off customers by talking negatively. It's like the manager who asked his new secretary, "Why don't you ever answer the telephone?" She said, "Why should I? Nine times out of ten it's for you!"

Negative employees do just enough to get by. They don't have a lot of drive, and they don't take a lot of initiative. They may even say, "I've just got 7 more years, 3 months, and 2 days, and I'm out of here." In other words, they've got a lousy work attitude.

So, how does an employee with a good positive attitude behave? Here are four characteristics of a positive employee that you should look for in yourself and your team:

  1. Positive employees know hard work is good for the soul.
    Most people know it's good for the company. They know it's good for the customer. And, they may even know that it s even good for the country. But only the winners know it's also good for the soul.

    Best-selling author Rabbi Harold Kushner says it so well. He says: "Work hard, not solely because it will bring you rewards and promotions, but because it will give you a sense of being a competent person. Something corrosive happens to the souls of people who stop caring about the quality of their work...and begin to go through the motions."

  2. Positive employees decide to enjoy their work - no matter what.
    Certainly, no job is perfect, and there's always room for improvement. There's always something to complain about. In spite of that, winners decide they're going to like their work. It's a decision they make, not a feeling they have only if everything is going well.

    Your job may not be fun. It may not even be meaningful. But if you're a winner, you're going to enjoy your work, no matter what. I know it sounds a little harsh, but I've often told my audiences, if you think your job stinks, if you think employment is bad, try unemployment for a little while.

  3. Positive employees see the good in every situation.
    Like anyone else they can see what's wrong with a situation, but positive employees don't get stuck on that point. Winners keep themselves motivated by seeing the good in any situation and focus on how they could make it better.

    By contrast, negative employees focus on a minor annoyance and let it ruin everything. It's like the person who was chosen to attend my two-day program, 'The Journey To The Extraordinary.' Even though her company paid for the trip and program, the hotel was very nice and the training was excellent, her only comment about the entire event was the fact that the chairs in the training room were uncomfortable. I'm sure they were. But her focus on the uncomfortable chairs kept her from experiencing the transformation everyone else was experiencing.

    Of course, positive employees - who see the good in every situation - may annoy the losers in the company. The losers may see these positive people as Pollyannaish or blind, and they may be disgusted with those people who aren't wallowing in the negativity with them. So be it.

  4. Positive employees ask how they can do more than is expected.
    Every business manager knows the cardinal rule in business is to under-promise and over-deliver. Positive employees are never satisfied with merely getting by or doing the bare minimum. They know if they were to do that they couldn't possibly feel good about themselves.

    Positive employees find out what's expected and do their best to exceed those expectations. Whether it's dazzling a customer with better service than she's ever experienced before - or surprising a coworker by offering extra help - positive employees focus on how they can do more, not less.

Concluding Thoughts
If you're trying to assemble a top-notch team, look for these characteristics. And if you want to move ahead in your career, display these four positive employee behaviors. They always work!
As a best-selling author and Hall of Fame professional speaker, Dr. Alan Zimmerman has taught more than one million people in 48 states and 22 countries how to keep a positive attitude on and off the job. In his book, "PIVOT: How One Turn In Attitude Can Lead To Success," Dr. Zimmerman outlines the exact steps you must take to get the results you want in any situation. Go to Alan's site for more information.
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