employers can teach people to do a job and provide
in-service training so employees can update their skills,
they can't mentor, teach, or coach employees to have a
positive attitude. That's why working on your
attitude daily and having a positive impact on your
organization, customers, and colleagues is so important to
your future employability.
Unfortunately, when asked to define a positive attitude,
many employers find it difficult to put into words what
they mean. Instead, they use words like
"happy" and "enjoyable to be around"
when describing a person with a positive attitude.
Since our attitude affects our behavior, which in turn is
demonstrated by our performance, it's no wonder that
attitude is so important in the business world. It
determines how we do our jobs.
Some employees may resist this notion, believing that no
one has the right to tell them how to think. This is
correct. Employers do not have the right to evaluate
our inner thoughts and feelings. However, they do
have the right to evaluate how we behave as a result of
those thoughts and feelings.
Employers and organizations also have the right to expect
that an employee's behavior and performance will have a
positive impact upon their organization. Why?
All would agree that an organization comprised of
employees who have a negative influence on their customers
and co-workers will not be in business for very
long. But organizations whose employees have a
positive impact on their co-workers, their customers, and
their company will enjoy many years of success.
Separate Attitudes from Actions
Is it possible to display a positive attitude even if
you're feeling sad, depressed, or angry? Of
course. Employees constantly find themselves in
situations where they simply cannot let their internal
feelings influence their actions. Put yourself in
these situations. Would you like your surgeon to be
all thumbs because he was upset with his wife? Or a
fireman to drive slowly when you called in an alarm
because he was tired? Or your lawyer to argue your case
poorly because she didn't feel like talking today?
Or the lifeguard to daydream about getting a new job
instead of paying attention while your child was
swimming? These people are required to behave in a
certain, prescribed way regardless of their
attitude. And we certainly expect them to do that-no
But how do you stay enthusiastic and excited about your
job if you've been at it for a while and things at work or
at home are not going perfectly? Remember, when
actors are on stage, they know they must be so good at
what they do that their performance will set them apart
from the rest of the cast and make them memorable.
No matter how famous and successful an actor may be, he or
she is always aware of an understudy waiting in the wings,
eager to take over the role the moment that actor begins
to deliver a performance that is less than top quality.
In today's world of downsizing and layoffs, we all have
understudies-people who would love to take our place and
play the part the job requires. To remain employable, you
must make sure you are one of your organization's
"star performers." Your customers also have the
right to a star performance because they are your
audience. After all, that's really what your paycheck is:
a reward for playing your part well. Can your organization
count on you, as a professional, to be a star performer?
doesn't mean you should be phony or just go through the
mechanical motions of acting out your part. No employer
wants an office full of robots, but they also don't want
people who bring their negative feelings to work every
day. Think of what a different workplace we could create
if everyone came to work and focused on the job at hand
instead of allowing our internal attitudes to affect our
To Stay Positive, Avoid Negative People
Is attitude, whether positive or negative, contagious? You
bet! From your own experience, think about how you feel
when you have to work with a negative person. Do you
remember times when someone else's negativity influenced
your own performance that day? Even though you may love
your job and you're proud of the products and services you
deliver, you probably felt that you and your organization
weren't doing their best. And if you had to work with a
negative person for a long period of time, their poor
attitude may have even made you want to quit your job.
That's the power a negative attitude can have on us.
If you have to work with negative people, try to limit
additional interactions. You are not obligated to carpool
with them, go to lunch with them, or spend time with them
after work. Part of your responsibility as a professional
is to be the kind of employee that others are not trying
to get away from, but rather, to be a positive person with
whom they enjoy working and seek out.
With two thousand to three thousand people losing their
jobs every day, now is not the best time to be perceived
as having a negative attitude, so avoid those people who
can cast that shadow on you. If you're going to become a
positive influence on your co-workers and customers, you
must take time to evaluate your interactions with others
and their effects on your organization as a whole.
Your Positive Attitude is Your Best Motivation
You may not realize it, but your performance has the power
to make or break your organization. Your attitude can be
your greatest asset or your greatest liability. Unaware of
that, employees often say, "My job is hard work. And
my organization doesn't even try to motivate me to do my
best." Today's organizations realize that it is not
their responsibility to motivate employees because
motivation cannot come from the outside. Motivation is
"an inside job." This means that employees
should not have to be coddled or coerced into working hard
and doing an excellent job. A valuable employee, the kind
an organization would work hard to hire and retain, is
The bottom line is that today's employers are looking for
consider this: employers from all over the country believe
that attitude is contagious. If that's so, is yours worth
what they do;
pride in their organization, their products, and their
about their customers and their co-workers;
the kind of team player others like to be around;
work a better place by their good humor,
dependability, integrity, and their ability to be a
positive influence through their words and actions.
To stay employed, analyze your attitude and determine
whether or not you're helping to create a healthy work
environment. Do whatever possible to stand out from the
rest and be easily recognized as an employee who has a
positive influence on your customers, your colleagues, and
your organization. By loving your job and playing your
part well, your efforts will be rewarded with years of
Podesta is an author, counselor, educator, humorist,
playwright, consultant, songwriter, actress and trainer. For more information visit
conniepodesta.yoursuccessstore.com. Reproduced with permission from the Jim Rohn Weekly