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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Attitude Problems

Tascha is a manager in a small town near St. Louis. You may remember Tascha if you read my last post. Tascha is in the process of figuring out why some of her strong performers left and that's been a tough lesson to learn.

To add to it, Tascha is observing rumblings on her team. One of the team members, let's call him Doug, just has a bad attitude. He's negative, argumentative, surly, and brings the rest of the team down. Now, I haven't told you this before, but while Tascha is not extremely new in this position and has contributed to some of the team's successes and troubles, she didn't put the team together originally. Tascha does have the responsibility, however, of building the team into an efficient and effective unit where the members are actively committed to their success and that of the organization.

If you were advising Tascha, you might tell her that if Doug is just being a jerk then he needs to be offered the opportunity to look for another job. The thing is that Doug is very experienced and very talented. He knows how to perform some tasks in the office that no one else can do. Some might even call him an expert in his field. Making him "available to industry", so to speak, might help solve one problem and cause several others. Because of that, previous managers had buried their heads in the sand, prayed, and hoped for the best instead of dealing with Doug. It was just easier.

Tascha is trying to decide what to do...just deal with Doug and try to make the best of things like her predecessors OR tell Doug to hit the road. Either way, her decision will create pain.

What Tascha needs to realize (and perhaps does, but is ignoring the fact) is that you can train skills, but you can't train attitude. The best she can hope to do is help align Doug's attitude with how she expects the team members to act. If he's unwilling to make any attitude modifications and Tascha doesn't do anything about it, she could lose even more of her team members than she already has because they may just get so frustrated with Doug that they leave. If they stay, the team will most likely continue to have issues moving toward being dysfunctional. Tascha can't build her team the way it is now.

My advice: "Hey Tascha, you need to have a 'come to Jesus' meeting with Doug and let him know that things have to change and soon. Let him know your expectations moving forward regarding his attitude. Be willing to let him go and be willing to accept some of the pain that is sure to follow as you and your other team members work to pick up the slack. There's no better time to start than NOW. Get going."

Next time: what Tascha can do to ensure another Doug doesn't develop in her team.

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