Attitude leadership

publication date 29.10.2017

Attitude leadership for success

With the advent of leadership, the trend of introducing processes is increasingly being sidelined. The processes and effective system have become commonplace. Moreover, the system becomes non-functional once the worker has decided otherwise!  Through their own attitude alone, they will easily alter any particular process. That is the reason why today´s management needs to develop skills necessary to control attitudes of workers. Workers need to acquire such attitudes as will help them take the right decisions. 

Let us begin with a practical example. The operator knows they are supposed to check the machine´s lubrication oil level every morning. It is in the procedure. They do not need to top up the oil every morning, though. The operator decides to save 1 minute, so they load the material at once and set the machine going. However, they have more than one machine to control. While operating another one, the first one is running out of oil. To which I forgot to add the operator had decided to look up important information related to that machine on the Internet during the idle period. So they were surfing on their mobile, completely forgetting about time. They did not pay heed to the tool overload. The tool cracked destroying the material. The operator knows all too well they are not allowed to use a mobile phone at work. But even prohibition is not effective. We all know that "all things prohibited are allowed.”  Processes actually work similarly. They very often point in one possible direction, and everything else is not allowed, that is, it is forbidden. 

Let us consider the second example that affects nearly all types of companies. The marketplace keeps developing. There is a whole range of opportunities everywhere and, with that, an increasing number of assignments. Sadly, there is just a single time/capacity available. Every worker makes decisions on a daily basis as to which assignment they will manage and how to be effective. If they think some of them cannot be managed, then they are likely to work on those easier ones to declare maximum work done. Or, alternatively, they will work on those somebody is pressing on. They no longer sit down and consider all of them as a single whole, trying to work out the way of cutting the lead time of other assignments by completing a correctly chosen one. They will not set down priorites arguing that they are pressed for time. 

What we need today is that the worker makes correct decisions eliminating the negative ramifications resulting from making mistakes. Getting excited that everything is in the procedures is good for nothing. In addition, with a view to eliminate economic losses due to human error, both the processes and the systems get more complex. Sadly, more often than not, the effort is doomed to be a wasted investment, unless the worker has made the right decision in a key situation. The system is just a tool, a help, an instrument that the worker has to learn how to use when taking up the job. Once they have learned the company environment, they will modify the conditions to suit themselves, the style and philosophy of the manager, the corporate culture, personal interests, ideas ... and so on. Frequently, we do not even learn what they have modified. Proper inspection will put it right, you might think. But it will not. Too much control produces stress, a high error rate and you may easily lose a worker who is otherwise quite good. 

Attitude leadership: the objective

An attitude is actually an opinion the worker holds or their preparedness to act in view ot the problem they resolve or the choice they can make. What the manager needs is that the worker makes the right decisions at the decisive moments.  They should either comply with the procedure, or call for the maintenance guy, or inform the team-leader, or wait before they surf until they are at home. All this completely without our interference. We need them to evaluate the risks at any given moment, to have a positive relationship with the team, the company and do everything in their power for the common good. And in doing so, to contribute to their own and the company´s success. There are many such decisions to  be made by the worker. Such decisions are sometimes not so simple and obvious.  

Leading others to embrace the right attitudes means to combine a range of internal and external factors that impact on the worker´s choices and decisions. Such factors include - the worker´s interests, information they have got, their needs, personality features etc. We also have to include the factors that effect the team´s behaviour, corporate culture, the philosophy and beliefs of the managers or the needs and behaviour of the family or friends. They are plentiful. We have selected just some of the factors and rules that every manager can readily put to work and cultivate their workers´ attitudes. 

1) Working with information

At the beginning, we need to become aware of the fundamental rule. Information in the worker´s head is reflected in the way they think. And the way they think effects the way they speak and act. In addition, we know they will lose and mix the information in time, unless it has got a good enough footing in the long-term memory.  

Information presented interestingly - when something captures the worker´s imagination, hearing it just once is enough for them to remember. They will remember such information instantly, store it in the long-term memory being able to use it when needed. In today´s hurried world, the managers resort to dictating the assignments having little time to stop and think of the best way a particular piece of information could be presented to the worker. Anyway, it would take a few seconds or minutes at most. 

The impact of information item no. 1 and no. 2  -  what happens when the worker hears first from a colleague how the new system is going to make their working conditions worse and only then from the manager about the advantages of the new system. Is it not the case of too little applied too late? Criticism that the manager is going to be wrestling with has already been planted inside of the worker´s head. Let us think which information has to reach the worker and when before it flies through the lobbies of the individual teams. 

Knowing the workers´ information - when did you last time make sure what information your workers had? You say you learn about it when you are resolving a problem? Yes, it is too late. The manager is supposed to make sure what information the worker stores in their memory.  

On example 1- What decision would the operator take, if they knew that machine no.1 was consuming more oil than before? 

Planning the needed information - we all know well that a whole range of situations occurs repeatedly. The managers know what will await their teams in the coming months. Yet few people will think about what information has to reach the worker beforehand for them to be able to digest it correctly and understand. We should not be planning just the targets, financial indices, but also which information the worker needs to be able to make decisions with an adequate degree of responsibility. 

2) Philosophy of the manager

If the manager´s only philosophy is just money-making, "crushing" the targets, kpi etc., they will create pressure which - in the long-term perspective - will lead to lower motivation and unethical behaviour. Depression will thrive, while the productivity will plummet. We are humans and need relationships, we need a sensible degree of a bearable load.  

If the manager´s philosophy is supporting their workers´ success, develop their knowledge, understand their needs, their willingness to do more for the company than is specified in the procedure.  

3) Social environment 

Not each decision is inspired by the rational logic of profit or loss. If we are in the team where its workers go their own line and the manager requires only performance above the standard, the workers will be bound to act more in fear. They will hardly ever sit around the table themselves in search of the best solution. Well, they would tarnish their own reputation while evaluating the results from their manager, would not they?  If we are in a different team where the manager supports initiative proposals, contributes with their own input, the workers like exchanging ideas, for which activity they even have a time reserved in their busy schedules. Such social environment, then, can generate new ideas and synergies.   

On example 2 - how would the worker with problems decide if he knew that by fulfilling problem no.3 he will also help another team meet their target ahead of schedule plus make them happy?  

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Attitude leadership begins in advance

Let us turn the entire situation back to front and use information preventively. Let us come to realize which situations are key for the company and when they are going to occur. Let us prepare information for the workers in advance so that they will have time enough to digest and understand it. Let us capture the workers´ imagination with information in line with their needs. Let us wish for the worker to be successful. There is no need to add that if the worker feels successful, the company will be successful just as well. Simultaneously, the risk of your worker leaving to work for a rival company will diminish. For it is tough to find environment where they feel comfortable as they professionally grow.  

Let us seriously embrace the concept that, in fact, we are an information-controlled company. The information rests in our workers´ memories. There will be no proper functioning of the company without the right communication. Let us prepare a philosophy, a system that will support the right decisions with information and facilitate the creation of social relationships. 

 

You can learn how to communicate correctly as a manager at our knowledge line Komunikace pro manažery.

Jiří Střelec

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„The initial inspiration should not overshadow the need for a smart implementation.“ more >>

Jiří Střelec Jiří Střelec

It is positive that an idea captures our imagination. It is good that we readily get down to work on its implementation. Yet the correct realization indeed demands finding the best way for its life. Enthusiasm should never dampen preparation and the ways of implementation.

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