Parting Ways with a Bad Attitude

Few things block the momentum of a team quite like a bad attitude.  Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton went so far as to suggest, “The only disability in life is a bad attitude.”  How then do you coach someone who seems to lack motivation?


Assuming your team member is coachable, the first step is to listen.  Pay close attention to excuses and any discussion of being a victim.  Next, if the team member has faced some real obstacles, show that you understand and empathize.  Sometimes bad attitudes develop because people do not feel as if anyone understands them.

After establishing rapport with the first two steps, it’s time to challenge the team member.  Consider the victim stories or perceived obstacles that are blocking the individual’s progress and address each.  Challenge the team member with questions such as, “What else can you do to overcome the obstacle?” or “What actions could you take to resolve the issue that would also push you beyond your comfort zone?”

motivation.1Now you are ready to do some coaching.  As you outline a plan of action to improve performance or attitude, do not settle for excuses.  Challenge the team member to work on creating implementable steps for improvement, and encourage the individual to also stretch beyond his/her perceived comfort zone.  Personal and professional growth is not easy.

Finally, get commitment by establishing regular follow up to measure results and talk through setbacks.  Remember to balance feedback between positive and constructive.

Positive Feedback

If your team members are coachable, you can guide them out of the shadow of a bad attitude.  And consider the positive ripple that will make on the rest of the team.

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