As it appeared in the Daily Nation on September 22nd 2020
Dr Lucy Kiruthu
Most of us can pick a staff’s attitude within the first few minutes of an interaction. It could be something they say, how they say it or their body language. A positive attitude stands out and so does a negative attitude. Body language, tone of voice and our choice of words are often the greatest indicators for our attitude. Our attitude influences how we relate to others. Our attitude is also manifest in our overall job performance. Why do some businesses leaders seem not to care enough about their staff’s poor attitude? Is it because they are not aware? Is it that they have never noticed it?
There are business premises that customers visit or call and they are made to feel unwelcome and unwanted. Some customers have been judged by their dress code and accent and treated disrespectfully. Why do some staff assume that a customer’s style or their English diction determines the size of their wallet? It could also be that the business leaders condone negativity thus making it commonplace. A customer may afford a product or a service but they may end up walking away because of how they are treated. There are some staff that we interact with and wonder why they still have a job. Could poor staff attitude be hurting your business? How do your staff make your customers feel?
A recent visit to an office left me wondering how many customers one of the staff had sent away. Maybe the staff was having a bad day. On the same day, I had a complete opposite interaction with staff at a small business. Their positive attitude made the entire purchase process enjoyable. Many factors influence staff attitude both positively and negatively. A poor attitude could be because the staff does not like their job, they feel underpaid or they have a poor relationship with their boss. Sometimes it could be the staff is having a tough day because of something going on in their life. Staff need to own up to their attitude. However, business leaders also have a responsibility to recognize a bad apple in their team. What action have you taken to prevent any bad apple from spoiling the whole bunch?
Every smart company needs to be concerned about its staff’s attitude. Could it be that the leadership has created an environment where negativity thrives? Staff do not like to be told that they have an attitude problem. Telling the staff that they need to change their attitude might not help. Business leaders need to first model positivity at the workplace. Further, make businesses values clear. Valuing collaboration, respect, professionalism, may keep poor staff attitudes in check. These values need to be supported by guidelines on what is expected of each staff. Therefore, competencies such as effective communication, good interpersonal skills, accountability need to be well articulated in each job description and in the performance management program. It is possible to eliminate negativity at the workplace if business leaders take the right action! What will you do today to curtail poor staff attitude? Do not let poor staff attitude continue to hurt your revenues!
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy