Until people accept a new idea as appropriate and possible, their attitudes won’t change. And until their attitudes change, their behavior won’t change. They may fake the behavior if it’s in their best interest, but the change won’t be meaningful or lasting.
We’ve all seen this type of change. The boss demands change or else heads are going to roll! For a while, people make cosmetic changes that imply acquiescence to the new mandate. But over time, and sometimes it is shockingly short, their behavior slides back to the earlier state—in fact, it often becomes worse. People’s behavior never really changed because their attitudes never really changed. And their attitudes never changed because they never thought the new mandate was a good idea.
Attitude is a predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively toward a certain idea, object, person, or situation. It influences people’s choice of action and their responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards. A person’s attitude comprises two areas: emotions and beliefs.
Can attitude impact company performance? You bet! In 12: The Elements of Great Managing, authors Rodd Wagner and James Harter surveyed 125 organizations in an attempt to match employee attitudes with company performance. The survey found that in companies where employees:
- felt they had the opportunity and tools to do their best and
- believed their fellow employees were also committed to quality,
Profitability was 12 percent higher than in those companies whose employee attitudes were found lacking.
Wagner and Harter found that employees:
- need to feel as though they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.
This is especially true for younger workers, the Millennial Generation, who have developed a loyalty to what they do before anything else.
- need to believe that their opinions count, that they can act, and that those actions affect the performance of the company.
- Finally, when employees sensed a direct connection between their work and the company’s mission, the company was more profitable.
Finding people with these attitudes isn’t as hard as it might seem. In fact, most people are eager to act like entrepreneurs. However, insecure leaders often stifle entrepreneurial spirit through restrictive policies and procedures. They neglect to talk to their employees about such spirit. Therefore, the concept will be new to the people you seek to hire. But the potential is there. The profits are there. Devote yourself to tapping that potential.