Monitoring Attitudes of Workers at the Workplace

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Home > Articles > Monitoring Attitudes of Workers at the Workplace

 Monitoring Attitudes of Workers at the Workplace

Tan Chee Teik | General
May 5, 2017
​Attitude is the key element and support for all our actions. It controls success towards the path we have chosen to take in our professional and personal life.

SOCIAL psychologists say that attitudes are “mediating factors”, not tangible objects but rather hypothetical constructs that can be inferred but not directly seen. People can observe the effects of an attitude but not the attitude itself. We can observe the worker’s dislike for doing overtime work when he/she leaves the office punctually every day.

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Attitudes can last over a long period of time. For example, if you are opposed to higher tap water charges, you will still hold the same attitude three weeks from now. But people’s attitudes can change over time. The person may have been stranded on a desert island for several days and found the importance of water. He will support the price increase as water is a precious resource although it comes free from the clouds.

Attitude is the key element and support for all our actions. It controls success towards the path we have chosen to take in our professional and personal life. Many researchers believe that a positive attitude is not a product that is inherited from our ancestors but an acquired trait—with the proper training.

Take time to find out your negative attitudes. Sit down and practise self-awareness. Identify the things that may be holding you back and adopt positive attitudes to replace them. You cannot overcome the challenges in life by yourself. You must build supportive relationships. Put together a team who will help you fight off negative attitudes. Over time, you will build lasting and mutually beneficial relationships.

Supervisors must take the trouble to build strong group dynamics. Instead of having a top-down way of doing things, they should engage employees by giving them the chance to suggest ideas. In this way, it is easier to get their buy-in as they feel that they have a share of the plan and will ensure its success.

Be Positive about Changes
We will encounter changes all the time whether it is at the workplace or at home. With a positive attitude, we look at the benefits of the changes. See change as an opportunity. Sometimes changes are planned by yourself. You may decide to devote your time to attend classes at night for self-development. You may have to spend much of your personal time for this extra challenge. At the class, you make new friends and when you have completed the programme, you are more marketable.

Other changes are unplanned such as when your company is involved in a merger with another company and you end up with a demanding boss and new colleagues. Try to understand the need for change rather than being affected emotionally and mentally by it. All stressful changes can throw you off-balance, but with a positive attitude, you should be able to adapt to the challenges.

Sometimes a person’s environment can change his/her attitude. My former colleague, Mr Cheng Nguk Teng, was very strict with his students at an industrial training centre. Although he was a good trainer, the students could not get close to him. Later when I got to know him better, he told me that he had spent eight years training the inmates of Changi Prison. Some were hardened criminals and he had to be very strict in his classes. His attitude remained even when he was transferred to a normal training centre.

Improving Work Attitudes
It is difficult to have formal classes for the improvement of work attitudes. Attitudes like good or bad habits cannot be changed overnight. Supervisors can cite examples of good work attitudes at meetings or when they are discussing the company’s credo, mission, or vision. They could cite incidents of poor customer service that accounted for the loss of loyal customers to the competitor. Or cases of good service rendered where an employee went out of his/her way to please the customer. Anecdotes need not always be from within the company. There are many stories from outside with lessons to be learnt. When you come across good examples from the Web or print media, print it out for use in future meetings. 

Job Satisfaction
Job satisfaction is the degree to which a worker feels positively or negatively about work. It is closely related to work attitude. There are two facets to job satisfaction. One is the decision to join and stay as a member of the company for the long-term. The other is the decision to work hard to reach higher levels of productivity.

If a worker is satisfied with his job, he/she will look forward to each working day. They will not send in medical certificates at the slightest cold or headache. Job satisfaction also affects staff turnover. Satisfied workers are less likely to look for jobs elsewhere. 

Managers must be able to measure satisfaction by observing and interpreting what workers say and do about their jobs. From time to time, they could organise focus group comprising several employees who are interviewed by a moderator. At such sessions, where the manager is absent, employees are free to speak out without fear of being marked.

It is impossible to assess the candidate’s attitude during the short interview process. You can depend on your intuition but the real attitude can only be observed when the person has worked for you for over nine months.


Mr Tan Chee Teik is a freelance journalist. He is a regular contributor to M360 and Today’s Manager.


Copyright © 2017 Singapore Institute of Management

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