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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

Can You “Train” How To Have a Good Attitude?

This is going to be a pretty subjective conversation, I am sure, but we have talked a lot about mystery shops, and Billi Jo Suiter made the comment, “If used as a teaching tool I think they hold immense value, however when used as a means for termination and fault finding they then do more harm to a team than any value they could have had.”  We’ve discussed this a lot on here, and my stance has always been that yes, the primary goal should be training, but what about those that are simply bad employees?  For example, there are some people who simply have a bad attitude (not just a “bad day”) or are simply too lazy to try to do a good job.

So the question comes down to, can you train someone on how to have a good attitude or not be lazy?  What if it is not just that the person is going through a rough patch – what if that is their fundamental personality?  We can’t simply let them be, as a bad attitude can be a cancer in any office, so do you all believe that this type of person can be trained to see the bright side of life, or is it something that can’t be rectified and they need to be let go?

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Attitude is the key to lifelong success. Employees who have an attitude problem generally have a lack of interest in learning new skills, do not participate fully in group activities, become cynical and give up easily when challenged or frustrated.

The key to maintaining a positive attitude is being passionate and enthusiastic when facing new tasks and in handling the routine ones. Once someone embraces these two characteristics, they can develop true joy.

Such is life! The truth of the matter is that one should learn this in childhood. If you didn't master this then because no one taught you how, then it is not too late to learn it in adulthood. However, I am not inclined to be as patient with an adult as I was with all my kindergarteners.

Given the choice of dealing with an upbeat person with a "can do" attitude versus dealing with someone who is disgruntled, acts bored, and growls all the while sitting and staring at the clock on the wall, which one would you choose? As a leader of the team, it is not my responsibility to make sure my other teammates are happy, have had no fight with his/her spouse, child, boss, neighbor, tax auditor, car repair mechanic, bill collector or best friend. It is my responsibility to give my employees the training and tools to do his/her job to the best of his/her ability. The employees who habitually complain, "forget" to enter traffic, follow up, or call Residents, enter work orders, etc., who obsess over the smallest perceived slight, and stab everyone in the back (especially the most talented team members, it seems, or their boss) have no place on my team. Get rid of them and never look back.

  Mindy Sharp
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Great response, Mindy. I think some people don't understand the full impact that someone like this has on the rest of the team, so they placate them as the easiest path. But I believe that firing someone can be the nicest thing you can do for your team, if that is the root cause of office drama.

But has anyone else had the opposite result, where they were able to take a habitually bad worker and turn them into a positive one?

  Brent Williams
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There's been one situation I've been in particular where a team member was having a hard time....bad attitude, not completing work, just not happy. We changed the person's job. . . and that person has been a "new man". Sometimes it's not a good fit, and you can fix it.

Sometimes, unfortunately, it's not a good fix and you cannot fix it. That's when I agree with Mindy. A Debbie Downer can bring a team way, uh... down! Also, it isn't FAIR if you do all your work, and your team-mate does not. You start to resent it.

  Donje Putnam
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Train for a good attitude? You can train to identify the fundamental problems within your own life that cause this attitude to surface, but you then need to take action and consistent corrective action to change. You must come to grips with reality, you cannot "change" someone, they have to do it themselves. Of course the first excuse is no-one gave them the tools. Being responsible is not a tool.

  John Feeney

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