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My Attitude, My Accountability

 By:  Janaki Rajagopalan

“I can’t give him a good rating with that attitude”…

“He lacks the right attitude for being a manager”…

So speaks the manager.

Aha! Says the employee. This is my manager’s favorite escape route to deny me my raise, my promotion, and opportunities. What does he mean by attitude? He cannot even define it, leave alone quantify it!

Thus the twain never does meet!

Probe a little further, and we find that attitude complaints can be broadly categorized into two. One has more to do with definable work habits and skill nuances – diligence, lack of flexibility, teamwork, interpersonal skills. The other, however, is a slippery eel. It defies specificity and confounds one with inconsistent shades. Little wonder the manager cannot quantify it, and the employee cannot understand it.

Result? It gets slapped with labels that are not only loose but dangerously limiting for an individual’s career growth.

The truth is, technical (or functional) skills do not always translate to performance skills. Organizations focus on hiring and promoting employees for technical skills but pay less attention to their performance skills. Technical qualifications only indicate that one can do the job; behavioral competencies and attitudes define whether or not one will do a great job for the company, whether or not there will be a face-off between the personal style and the organizational culture.

Treatises by pundits abound on what organizations should do about enhancing the right behavioral competencies in their employees. True, at the end of the day it is for the organization to safeguard its goals of revenue, profits and performance.

But I am going to place the boot on the other foot – on my foot as an employee. Attitude is personal – my behavior and attitude builds my brand identity and equity and I have to take 100% accountability for it. It is not mere rhetoric when I say, “Ask not what my organization does for me….”  The truth is, my organization is the only playground I have to showcase and build my performance equity, and I had better take it seriously. The greater reality is that my performance skills can only be reflected through my organization’s performance – and so I will make my attitude shine through my company’s performance and not take recourse to the lame outlook of isolating it.

Even if I am selfish as an employee, this makes sense. I want to succeed, and I want to sign my brand before anyone else kills me with their signature. And if I am a healthy cynic, as most of us are, this makes immense sense.

So let me, as an employee ask myself these questions, do an honest self-assessment and steer my course to be true to my inner equilibrium.

  1. Do I make commitments or excuses?
  2. Do I make myself part of the solution (saying, “let me find out”) or add to the problem (saying “I do not know nor does anybody else”)?
  3. When I err, do I have the integrity to say “I was wrong”, or the temerity to say “It was not my fault”?
  4. Do I compromise on what I should not and fight for what is not worthwhile?
  5. Do I genuinely listen or merely wait for my time to talk?
  6. Do I strive to be better than good or feel I am not as bad as many others are?
  7. Do I say “It may be difficult, but it’s possible, or do I say “It may be possible, but is too difficult”?
  8. Do I have the courage to do what I fear, or constantly fear what I should do?

My attitude is what I wear everyday and what I can always control. So let me leverage it as much to benefit me as to prevent it from harming me. Let me not wait for my organization to pave the way for my success, let me take accountability to succeed and carry my organization to success too.Woman walking