A Positive Attitude Increases Productivity and Employability
Connie Podesta

While 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 matter what.

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?

Now, this 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 performance.

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 self-motivated.

The bottom line is that today's employers are looking for employees who:

  • Want to work;
  • Enjoy what they do;
  • Take pride in their organization, their products, and their services;
  • Care about their customers and their co-workers;
  • Are the kind of team player others like to be around;
  • Make work a better place by their good humor, dependability, integrity, and their ability to be a positive influence through their words and actions.
And finally, consider this: employers from all over the country believe that attitude is contagious. If that's so, is yours worth catching?

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 steady employment.

Connie 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 E-zine.

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