I received the following comment from Ruby to my post called, Employees with Bad Attitudes.
"I have been labeled and told I have a bad attitude,when all I do is work and focus on work. Just because I don't stand around the copy machine like a chatty Kathy, and don't buy food for them, I am a " bad attitude Employee". just so you can see, one of those people that has only worked with us for 8 months and just sat around the copy machine talking all day and just walking around like a chicken without a ahead- got promoted to Manager- i have been there for 4 yrs and did everything by the book and got overlooked because of my " Bad Attitude" Is working hard a bad attitude? Now this person bribes everyone with food , she is the best friend of the supervisor that hired her- and pretty much she has taken over and doesn't even know what or understand how the clinic runs. I am to my wit's end. I need my job I have been very polite and mingle with everyone I don't buy food there hasn't been any complains from customers or staff- and yet I have a " Bad Attitude". Priceless! "
I thought I would respond to Ruby's comment here, as it might be helpful to others. First of all, I am guessing that Ruby is feeling disappointed and is using her comment to vent a bit. Sometimes we all need to do this! One of the things we often do when we experience a setback is to connect disconnected topics and Ruby has done this here. So let's first peel away the parts that are not related to "bad attitude."
Focusing on work does not mean you have a bad attitude and being chatting does not mean you have a good attitude. Buying food for people (or not doing so) is not about attitude. Job knowledge and doing the work is important for all jobs.
And Ruby, doing things "by the book" has nothing to do with attitude. That's compliance. Two different things. Some people who do their work by the book have good attitudes and others don't. Some people who DON'T do their work by the book have good attitudes and others don't. I think you probably know this.
The term "attitude" is problematic when we use it as a label because it is not actionable. I hope that Ruby's manager, when telling her why she was not going to get promoted, was more specific with Ruby than simply saying she has a bad attitude. Here are some of the behaviors that we see that often get put under this heading:
- Negative demeanor.
- Being short or uncooperative with team members/others.
- Being defensive when given feedback.
- Showing unconstructive anger or snapping at people.
- Criticising (unconstructively) or gossiping about others.
- Withholding information, not engaging in group discussions.
Ruby, you say you work hard and need your job. I have no idea if you have a bad attitude or not or what the real reason is that you got passed up for the promotion. That said, I will say this: The tone and content of your comment indicate that you might be operating in a negative way. It comes across as defensive, reactionary, and divisive. As I wrote at the beginning of the post, you might just be letting off some steam with your comment. That said, if you talk like this to coworkers and managers, I can see why you might be seen as someone with a bad attitude.
If the position you were applying for involves supervising others, it is not enough that you work hard and do things by the book. Team leaders need to be people that others enjoy working for and they need to be people who can bring out the best in others. Don't misinterpret this to mean that you need to buy food for people. That is not what I am suggesting. You should find ways to show people you care and you should come across in ways that are open, fun, and helpful.
You say that there have never been any complaints about you, and this is great. Ask yourself whether your team members and managers would describe you as someone they love working with and who helps bring positive energy to the team and department. If the honest answer is "no" then you should set this as one of your career goals. Don't worry about what your coworkers do, if you are someone with whom people love to work (a minimum requirement to be a supervisor or manager, I believe) then you will experience success in the future.