Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude.
I like fun.
—Colleen C. Barrett

Those of us who have been charged with hiring others, have very likely been taught to “look for someone with a great attitude; you can train them in all the skills they’ll need.”

Good advice, but just the beginning.

Here’s something to consider; attitude is a result of something. If a prospective candidate comes to you with a great attitude, ready to take on the world (and your version of it) they’ve come from a situation which gave them a positive, enthusiastic, optimistic outlook. You are now the lucky recipient of that bountiful result.

However a great attitude is a fragile thing. It’s a mental state that can change quickly and fairly easily. The question now becomes if the job you hire them into will sustain that person’s morale as that great attitude you perceive they have, or not. Do you offer them a working situation which will keep them in that sunny disposition they came to you with, or are dark clouds on the horizon?

  • Do you offer them a role in which you will employ all the strengths they come to you with, using their talents every day in a manner which unleashes the creativity of personal growth and success?
  • Do you offer them an organizational culture where the way of work is fun, it fills them with vibrant energy, and it surrounds them with people they’ll admire and enjoy being with?
  • Do you offer them work which they will always feel is important and worthwhile, and thus working at it makes them feel important and worthy? Will what they do for you count for something meaningful?
  • Do you offer them a future-forward vision which will inspire them to learn more and be more, continually striving for what could be, a vision which banishes apathy and complacency?

Great workplace environments are those which are the catalysts of great attitude because they are filled to the brim with hope and promise. They cradle us with a safe place to react as we instinctively or emotionally need to, just to get stuff out and dispensed with, and THEN they provide a framework in which we’ll do the next thing. Is the ‘next thing’ the best possible alternative, one imbued with optimism?

We always have a choice between the positive and negative, and our workplaces can create an abundance of positive choices and a scarcity of negative ones. If most of the choices available to us are overwhelmingly positive they fill us with enthusiasm. We trust that more likely than not, a great result will follow, and we step forward with a great attitude.

You might think it a lot of responsibility to shape those kinds of workplaces, and yes, I’d have to agree that it is. However you’ll be creating something, so why not that?

Great attitude can deliver a lot of good things. I don’t think that’s something I need to prove to you; just count up the examples you’ve experienced first hand. Go for the gusto and create a working environment which makes more good happen.

I do agree that it’s far better to start with someone who already has a great attitude, one they’ve packed up and brought to work with them. They have experienced the happiness it brings to their lives, and they will have a desire to keep that fiery joy burning strong and sure. Just remember this; that attitude is not guaranteed to last forever unless you do what it takes to make sure it does.

“Make your optimism come true.”
—Author unknown

Related articles:
Experience required. (Are you sure?)
Looking for the Good in People
The Role of the Manager
Your Final, Essential Hiring Question


Rosa Say is the author of Managing with Aloha, Bringing Hawaii’s Universal Values to the Art of Business and the Talking Story blog. She is the founder of Say Leadership Coaching, a company dedicated to bringing nobility to the working arts of management and leadership. Her most recent online collaboration effort is JJLN: the Joyful Jubilant Learning Network.

Love this article?