None of us walk around 24/7 feeling happy and at peace with the world. Sometimes we have things going on at home, health issues to contend with, or sometimes something silly sparks off a bad mood, like someone cutting us up at a roundabout on the way to work.
As a manager, you don’t have to be ‘on’ all of the time, but you do have to consider how your attitude and behaviours affect your team.
The Attitude your Team Wants You to Have
Caroline is a middle manager who is often negative. She complains about things that are out of her control and is quite defeatist. Deep down, she lacks confidence in herself and her team.
In contrast, Paula, the manager of another team in the business focuses on what she can control and chips away at problems rather than getting overwhelmed.
She always believes that she and her team can make an impact. She has confidence in her team members and is focused on helping them grow.
She believes that each person on her team is good and she wants them to succeed.
Whenever she’s having a bad day, she’s able to be curious about what’s really going on and she’s good at regulating her emotions. Even in bad circumstances, she’s optimistic that things will turn out okay.
Which manager would you rather work for? It has to be Paula, right?
Most people aren’t naturally optimistic and confident, and able to regulate their emotions. It’s all about mindset, and managers who are like that intentionally work at it.
They understand that their attitudes and behaviours affect their team members, so they set the tone by being positive and inspiring even when things are difficult.
Your Attitude is a Choice
When you’re not feeling positive about something, you have a choice. You can complain to someone else, worry, or get frustrated, or you can take a pause and find some positives in the situation.
If you’re not feeling great about something, a positive attitude won’t just miraculously develop, you have to consciously work on the attitude you want to adopt. You have to think about how your attitudes and behaviours affect your team.
What Impact Does Your Attitude and Behaviours Have on Your Team?
As a manager, you set the tone for your team. Your attitude and behaviours have an impact. As you’d expect, if a manager has a positive attitude, that’s likely to be reflected in their team. If they have a negative one, the pervading attitude in their team will probably be negative too.
Are your team engaged?
Do they often go the extra mile?
Are people loyal and do they want to stay?
If not, this could be down to your attitudes and behaviours as a manager.
Think about it; your attitude has an impact on your team members’ emotions. If your negative attitude rubs off on them, they may be less committed to their work which in turn can lead to disengagement, poor productivity, and high staff turnover. All of which will affect the bottom line.
On the other hand, if you have a positive attitude and approach, and you model the behaviours you expect from others, you’ll attract and retain good people who want to do well.
How Managers Can Manage Their Attitude
The thing to be clear on is that managing your attitude is not about denying how you feel about something or pushing it down. Emotions exist for a reason. However, here are some things to think about.
When you’re feeling strong emotions, you can still feel them, but you don’t have to let them bubble over. Instead, it’s much more helpful if you can get to the point where you’re able to pause and ask yourself how useful the emotion is. Will ruminating or focusing on anger, frustration, or upset help you solve anything?
Taking a pause can also help you to respond rather than react.
For example, say that a team member has done something that has disappointed or upset you.
What is likely to be a better response-brooding all day and winding yourself up until you fly off the handle and say something you regret?
Or choosing to process how you feel in private so you can decide how to respond or if you want to respond at all?
How to Have a Better Attitude
Here are my tips on how managers can shift their attitude so it has a positive impact on them and their team.
Focus on the positives
What do you really enjoy about your job? What do you like about your team? What individual and collective strengths do they have? Focusing on the positives can really help shift your attitude.
Catch your thoughts
This can be easier said than done. Your thoughts and mindset are the product of a lifetime of conditioning which is not easy to undo. However, you can learn to catch your thoughts and in time, change the way you think. For example, you can challenge your thoughts. When you come up against some sort of difficulty, do you default to negative and self-defeating thinking? Learn to challenge these thoughts with evidence of things you’ve done before and succeeded.
Censor what you say
Do you tend to slip into complaining or negative mode without thinking about it? Have you thought about how your attitude and behaviours affect your team when it comes to the things you say?
If you constantly complain, people will just stop listening and they won’t take you seriously. They’ll just think ‘here we go again.’ On the other hand, if you complain infrequently and in the right way, people will take notice and realise that you’re serious about whatever it is.
Do something positive each day
It’s easy to get lost in how frustrating or challenging things are every day. If you spend all day angry and frustrated, you view everything through that lens. How about filling your days with some positive things that will really help shift your attitude?
Like saying thank you to a team member for a job well done. Spending a few minutes learning something new. Going for a short walk in the sun at lunchtime. Find something that works for you and see how much brighter it can make your days feel.
Drop the victim mentality
Everyone has to deal with things at work that they’d rather not have to handle. That other manager who seems hell-bent on undermining you. That team member who often doesn’t follow your instructions. Their behaviour may be about you, but it’s probably not. Instead of asking yourself ‘why are they doing this to me?’, take control of the situation and have a conversation to get to the bottom of it.
Got problems? Break them down
If a problem seems insurmountable, there are probably things you can’t control. Just focus on the things you can. Break the problem down into small chunks and do what you can about each thing. Work on solving issues, step by step instead of throwing in the towel and feeling completely discouraged.
The Betari Box and Understanding Attitudes and Behaviours
The Betari Box is quite a simple model that can help us understand how our attitudes and behaviours impact those around us. Let’s consider a scenario. Going back to Caroline, the negative line manager. David is one of her team members and if he’s honest, he dreads her coming into the office. Her negative attitude often gets the day off to a bad start for everyone, and once it starts like that, it often doesn’t get much better.
Caroline spends most of her day hovering over people and micromanaging. She doesn’t even trust that people will stick to their hour-long lunchtime, so she watches them come and go. Team members are resentful of her lack of trust and have lost their confidence and willingness to make decisions. So what they do instead is go to her for every decision. This has only made Caroline certain that she was right all along- her team members can’t handle things.
Have you ever worked in a business and seen behaviours like this? Things can get toxic pretty fast. If you’re seeing something similar in your business, here’s how you can use the Betari Box model to make things better.
The key way it works is it helps people recognise when they are stuck in a negative cycle. Used correctly, it can really help you see how your attitude and behaviours affect your team.
So the usual pattern that leads to conflict and disengagement goes something like this.
When we feel negative, we get impatient and angry, and we can yell or argue. This demotivates your team and all that will happen is you will get negative behaviours back. The result is disharmony and conflict. However, the Betari Box can nip patterns like this in the bud.
How the Betari Box Works
The Betari Box is all about breaking that negative cycle. The next time you find yourself in a negative mood:
- Stop what you’re doing and get curious about why you’re feeling so negative. Here is where you make a conscious decision to break out of the negative cycle and focus on something positive.
- If it’s a team member who is being negative, remember that you can choose how to respond to them. If they are negative to you, you don’t have to be negative back. If their negativity persists, talk to them about the Betari Box, and explain how negative attitudes and behaviours affect the team and them personally.
Here are a couple of examples in practice. The first is when someone doesn’t use the Betari Box versus the second is when they do.
Notice the difference.
Scenario one- not using the Betari Box
You woke up late and were stuck in traffic, hitting every red light on the way to work. By the time you reach the office, you’re feeling very frustrated and negative.
You’re sharp with one team member and you shout at another team member who has made mistakes in a report you asked them to do. This causes upset in the team. The first team member is hostile towards you for the rest of the day, while the second is so upset that you shouted at them that they retreat and don’t speak to you. Nothing constructive happens.
You had a terrible drive to work and arrive at work in a bad mood. You’ve had a run-in with a couple of team members. However in the afternoon, when you’re sitting at your desk still feeling wound up, you think about what started you off feeling this way. The traffic, is something you can’t control and is fairly trivial in the grand scheme of things.
You decide to break the negative cycle. You offer your team members a sincere apology and agree to work with them to resolve any issues going forward.
They accept and welcome your apology and willingness to work together to move forward. Isn’t this a much more positive outcome?
What If It’s Not You?
Another benefit of managing your attitudes and behaviours is that it helps you manage difficult situations in the workplace. Here I’m thinking about those times when it’s a team member’s attitude and behaviour that’s causing problems.
Situations like this can be daunting to deal with and having a good model up your sleeve can help. This is where the OK Corral model comes in. The model is based on Transactional Analysis by Eric Berne. The premise of the model is that situations, moods, and behaviours trigger one of four reactions. When we are faced with these situations, we have a choice in how we see and perceive ourselves and how we perceive and react towards others.
The OK Corral reactions
I’m ok, you’re not ok
A person presents as self-assured, maybe pointing out others’ mistakes to make themselves look better.
I’m not ok, you’re ok
A person feels inadequate and maybe powerless in their role. You may see them withdraw and undermine their own abilities.
I’m not ok, you’re not ok
This is hopelessness and negativity in the face of a situation, mood, or behaviour.
I’m ok, you’re ok
This reaction allows for optimism, collaboration, and mutual respect. It’s about seeing the best in the other person and working to find a constructive approach to issues. Reaching this point should be the aim of all communication.
How to use the OK Corral Model
So how do you use the model to manage difficult situations in the workplace?
First, think about yourself and ask this question: How do I view myself when I am ‘OK’? How do others perceive me when I’m OK?
To get to that ‘I’m OK, You’re Okay’ place, you need to check in with yourself and make sure you feel confident going into the situation. If you are feeling frustrated, resentful, or angry, the chances of resolving the situation in any sort of constructive and meaningful way aren’t as high.
So pause, take a walk or make a drink, and ask your self am I at that ‘I’m OK, You’re OK’ point and if not, what do I need to do to get there?
Do you need help mastering those difficult conversations and situations?
Difficult conversations can bring up a lot of emotions in everyone. They can trigger bad memories of past issues, and make you feel vulnerable and out of your depth.
Of the questions, I get asked about management, how to have a difficult conversation is probably the most common.
So that spurred me on to develop and introduce my ‘How to make difficult conversations easier in the workplace’ journal for managers.
Much more than a journal, it’s a guide to understanding yourself and your team members better, so you can plan those difficult conversations and feel more confident when you have them.
There’s an absolute wealth of information in there that will get you thinking and by the time you finish this journal, you will really understand yourself a lot more.
Pop along to Amazon and get your copy, and watch your confidence with difficult conversations and situations soar!