A CEO of a large company once asked me to give him tips on how he could improve the attitudes of his employees. He said that he was concerned because it seemed like negative attitudes were permeating throughout many of the company’s departments. I told him that if he is noticing those attitudes, so are his customers. Here are the five steps I suggested he implement to begin improving employee attitudes:
As you hire new employees, focus primarily on their attitudes, not just their skills. Most skills can be taught, attitudes cannot. Pay very careful attention to the demeanor, attitude and enthusiasm of job candidates. If there is even the slightest doubt in your mind about their sincerity–don’t hire them.
Seriously consider terminating employees who continue to be extremely negative even after they have been given several opportunities to improve their behavior. Attitudes are contagious. No matter how productive an employee is, consistently negative behavior such as criticizing co-workers or the company can take down the morale of an entire work team.
The CEO, president or owner needs to reserve two hours per week to visit employees throughout the company and personally meet them and acknowledge their individual efforts. Do not schedule the visits for the same time each week, or they will become predictable and lose their impact. Take time to chat for a few minutes with each of your employees, and be sure to listen to their suggestions. Sincerity is a must!
Hold employees, particularly senior managers, accountable for their attitudes and behavior toward their co-workers. Require all managers to attend customer service training programs along with their employees.
Thank your employees every chance you get. Hand-written notes, personal comments or phone calls to employees are effective methods for improving internal attitudes. They are also more powerful tools for building loyalty than carefully planned employee recognition programs.