What is a Good Attitude?

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I first started asking this question almost 20 years ago.  I was being trained to go door to door selling services on behalf of corporate clients in Sydney, Australia.

The importance of a ‘good attitude’ was pounded into me with excessive repetition.  I then pounded the same concept into every person I trained. With excessive repetition.

I learned a lot about sales and having a ‘good attitude’ back then. Or so I thought.

I look at this differently today… the whole concept is subjective and wishy-washy.  Telling someone to have a good attitude is like telling them to jump on a hamster wheel and start running.  It doesn’t go anywhere and eventually tires them out.

The way most people use the term, a ‘good attitude’ is a valance.  It’s something you display.  Usually, you are told to have a good attitude by someone else.  Another way of saying that is – a good attitude is a way of covering up what and how you really feel so that others don’t see it.  As a business owner, it’s important that you find ways to see past this or find tools that help you determine the truth.

Since these early days of training (which were and still are extremely valuable to me) I’ve learned much more about the subject.

I wrote a blog post previously about Three Indicators of  Poor Attitude.  Today we’ll go into more detail about the specifics of attitude.

One of our researchers at Advanced Business Abilities spent 40 years testing and measuring business owners and candidates in order to create a system that would accurately predict the success of an applicant for a role in your company.

He created a way of measuring this subjective concept of a ‘good attitude’ and breaking it down into measurable and understandable traits.  For me, this is one of two measurements that I think are important when assessing a candidate for a role with your company.

Let’s call this General Attitude and Integrity.  The higher a person scores on these traits, the worse their attitude is likely to be.

 It consists of 5 specific traits:

Critical – a person’s tendency to judge others or find fault in others, even when the fault does not exist.

Negative – a person’s tendency to see problems when they don’t exist, or to view a person or situation as being worse than it really is.  In other words, a person who is negative sees the glass as half empty, when it’s actually half full.

Blame – a person’s tendency to inappropriately assign cause for the negative emotions that they experience, especially when they created the problem in the first place, or they could have done something to change it.

Dishonesty – specifically a person’s willingness to tell the whole truth in a situation where if they do tell the truth, they will loose something.

Unsupportive – a person’s tendency to do things that are good for themselves or their future, rather than following the company’s stated agenda.

These five traits will tell you about a persons ability to work as a valuable team member in your organisation.   A person who tends towards any of these traits is going to cause problems in a team.

This is a way of looking at general attitude and integrity.

In recruiting people, there is another attitude that matters.  This other attitude I’m referring to is more about company culture and feeling.  It’s about whether or not the person ‘fits’ within your organisation.  Before you can determine that about a candidate, it’s important that you quantify what this is for your company.  This is about asking questions of yourself and your management team – what do you view to be an indicator of a good attitude?  what do you like about your best team members now?  what are the signs that someone is an up and coming player?  – the answer to these questions tells you a lot about your company culture.  And there is a way to do it.

I’ve been reading an awesome book by Mark Murphy called Hiring For Attitude recently.  He’s got an awesome system for extracting this information about your company for you.  I can strongly recommend it.

The main skill involved in determining this other type of attitude in a candidate is interviewing (which is really a communication skill).  Specifically, it’s the question asking… without telegraphing the answer you’re looking for.  This is a lot harder than it sounds when you read it.  The best interviewers are very aware of their intuition, and pay very close attention to very subtle signs and signals given off by the interviewer.  This is really the subject of another blog post (I’ll link it when I write it)

The way I define a good attitude is that they have an acceptable level (a measurement below 30 on our Predictor Profile Assessments is acceptable, and the lower the better) of general attitude and integrity, and they fit with the cultural attitudes of your company.

Till next time.

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