Why Positive Attitudes Are Critical And How Do You Change Them When They Aren’t! (Part 2)

Last week I talked about the importance of having a positive attitude when dealing with customers, this week I want to cover how to help a team member whose attitude is not great.

When we receive bad service, we often feel as if the team member doesn’t want to be there. In actual fact, we don’t know whether or not the team member wants to be there. We cannot read another person’s mind, and there’s not too many team members who come out and declare, “I don’t want to be here” in front of customers. We are making an assumption.

The negative feelings we get are probably based on one or two key behaviours. It could be that customers weren’t acknowledged when they walked in, or when they walked up to the counter. Perhaps the team member didn’t look at the customer when we they served us, or didn’t give the customer a greeting. It could be their tone of voice that sounded negative.

All of these examples are behaviours. We classify behaviours as what a person says or does, and these can come across positively or negatively and therefore create a good or bad feeling. Whenever a manager asks me about fixing a bad attitude, I have them list the behaviours the person exhibits. Once I know what these behaviours are, I can help the manager give feedback that focuses on changing these behaviours.

Can attitudes be trained?
The answer is yes, in some circumstances only if the person is open to want to change, if not, it’s way too hard. Of course, it’s preferable to not have to train at all for attitude; it’s preferable to hire people with the right attitude from the outset. For many managers, however, recruiting great team members will not provide an immediate solution because they have existing team members they are not in a position to fire. We have to take a two-pronged approach: work powerfully with the team members we have, and recruit for attitude when a vacancy arises.

For now, let’s look at working with the team members we have. And let’s start, as I do, from the belief that most people want to do a good job. If most people want to do a good job, what happens to have them not deliver?

One common factor is the manager’s reluctance to address issues as they arise. If the manager fails to address an issue, team members may keep on pushing the boundaries until the problematic behaviour becomes the norm. It’s vital, therefore, that issues are addressed when and as they occur.

Another common factor is failing to distinguish whether the problematic behaviour is a training issue or an attitude issue. Ask yourself whether the person exhibiting the behaviour could do it differently if he or she were promised a million dollars. If the person could do it differently for a million dollars, then it’s an attitude issue; if not, it’s a training issue.

Roger Simpson – CEO, The Retail Solution and Author of “The Ultimate Retail Sales Experience” With over 35 years’ industry experience, Roger Simpson is recognized as Australia’s #1 Authority on customer ROI in the retail industry and as a global expert on staff coaching, customer service, and selling skills.