Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Can You Measure Employee Attitude?

A few weeks ago I co-presented a webinar for  HR.com entitled, "Performance Appraisals Your Managers Will Love."  I made a statement that went something like this:

Remove the word ATTITUDE from your performance appraisal.  
Well, I got a lot of feedback from those 8 words.  Most of the feedback was around, "We need employees that have a good attitude towards their jobs and customers."  I don't disagree.  However, you have to define attitude so that everyone understands it.  Also, it is a very subjective term, because what I think is a good attitude is totally different from what my co-workers define as a good attitude.

I googled attitude and I read many definitions, but here is a good representation of what I found:

Attitude: a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways; "he had the attitude that work was fun"

So, I don't know about you but I don't want to get into feelings and beliefs at work.  What I want at work is behaviors that lead to desired outcomes.   What we need to do is think of ATTITUDE in terms of behaviors.  What are the desired behaviors that support a "good attitude?"

Think about these behaviors:
  • Is responsive to clients needs
  • Responds to requests in a timely manner
  • Serves customers in a friendly manner
  • Completes assignments and asks for extra assignments
  • Shares best practices with co-workers
  • Receives positive feedback from customers
  • Goes above and beyond to satisfy customers
All of the above are behaviors that are outcomes of positive attitude.  Aren't those examples a lot clearer and easier to rate, train to, and explain than "have a good attitude?"

I did have someone ask me if MOOD was a better word than attitude.  That question put me in a bad mood coming from an experienced HR professional.  It took all I had to say, "I don't think so." Mood has the same issue: what does a good mood or bad mood look like.  And, I can be in a bad mood and still be productive.  Perhaps we should just buy our employees some MOOD rings.  :)

What is your experience with rating attitude and how have you handled that on performance appraisals?
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