Changing attitudes is a tough challenge for training professionals

We have all had to put up with people who have a poor attitude to work. And one of training’s toughest challenges is changing attitudes. How can you change inappropriate attitudes that so often are a manifestation of personality? After all, psychometric-type instruments, and experiences, tell us that traits are in-built and often unchanging over time.

The trick is to show individuals the benefits of modifying their attitudes, and the negatives of not doing so.

One of the benefits of a positive attitude at work is that it’s far more likely to lead to advancement and reward. Publicly-funded training champion Learndirect says – according to a recent survey it conducted – that 60% of bosses would consider skills and attitude to be the deciding factor when giving a pay rise.

Presumably that leaves 40% for whom skills and attitude don’t matter when it comes to pay rises – a disturbingly high figure, perhaps partly accounted for by unionised pay deals.

Learndirect goes on to claim that one in three UK employers spends nothing on training staff in adopting the right attitude to work. This raises some key points.

First, changing negative attitudes is not necessarily about training – it’s partly a wider pay and rewards and workplace culture issue. Second, it’s a slippery and rather nebulous challenge. And last, do employers really have to spend money on this?

Surely it is within the compass of competent learning and development and training managers to devise programmes designed to foster improved attitudes that don’t cost money? All it would take is spelling out the personal qualities required at work, the use of role models from within the workforce, and a stress on the benefits a positive attitude to work can bring. And, of course, a rewards system based on merit.

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