Attitudes are contagious.

“Attitudes are contagious. Is yours worth catching?”  -Dennis and Wendy Mannering

This is another quote I came across in the motivational quotes section of SparkPeople.  I happen to think that, in a lot of ways, this quote is pretty true.  You can see it in groups all the time.  If one person is always judgmental, rude, negative, or whatever, the rest of the group usually is too.  But when that person leaves it’s like the group’s dynamic changes.

I saw this a little bit at work on Tuesday, and I know I’ll see it today too.

In a previous post I talked about a book I’m reading for work called “Switch.”  We’ve been asked to find something in our library branches to which we can apply what we’ve learned in the first 98 pages.  I chose our greeter desk as the thing to work on with the tools we’ve picked up from the first section of reading. I’ve been asked to present on my “project” at an upcoming managers meeting.

The idea is that you want to “paint a picture postcard” so that everyone will have the same destination in mind for a particular project.  I actually have two for the greeter desk:

  1. BE the model that everyone else will copy (meaning: if we make it successful, other branches will have to copy us)
  2. The most welcoming library in our system (meaning: welcome everyone, make them feel good about using the library, keep them coming back for more)

With those two postcards in mind, I’m meeting with the staff who will be working at the greeter desk.  The problem is that the greeter desk is the least favorite desk to work at in my branch.  The staff has complained about it being boring, especially when the library is slow (my staff go a little stir crazy when they run out of things to do).  They’ve also said that they don’t like working at that desk when there’s so much work to be completed in the back and/or when there’s a long line at the membership desk (they don’t feel like team players when others are doing all the work).  Patrons don’t know what the desk is for.  Many of them try to come up and use the staff computer.  There isn’t a place for a chair.  The list goes on.

I wanted to get some input from my staff on what they think would make the greeter desk work best to meet the two postcards above.  The branch can’t operate if we’re all at a meeting, so I’ve split my circulation clerks up into two meetings.  The first group met on Tuesday.  The other group meets today.

I was/am actually nervous about meeting in these groups.  Some of my staff can be negative and will tell me all the reasons why something isn’t working or won’t work.  They are reluctant to give options a chance before negating them.  Tuesday’s group only had one negative person, but it seemed to work out OK.  I did my best to maintain control of the meeting/brainstorm.  I kept bringing the group back to the biggest questions:

  • When does this desk work best? (looking for the bright spot!)
  • What would you do with unlimited money to make the desk work better?
  • What would you do with minimal money to make the desk work better?

The other group members helped refocus the negative person with their positivity.  Eventually he came on board with looking for solutions and actually offered one of the best solutions from that meeting.  Getting back to the quote that started this blog: The group’s attitude was contagious, and it was worth catching.  They came up with some great solutions they could all agree on.

Today’s group has 2 people that tend to be more negative.  They’re also very vocal.  I’m hoping they won’t be too much of a challenge.  And if they are then I hope their attitude is not contagious.  We need solutions and ideas of the ways we can meet the destination postcards – not more reasons why one desk doesn’t work and resistance against making it work.

So, wish me luck!  It’ll be interesting to see what solutions today’s group comes up with for our desk.  I wonder if they’ll be along the same lines as Tuesday’s group.  I guess we’ll see!

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1 Comment

  1. Great post! I think simply offering a new challenge and asking for others’ input helps reduce the negative thinking. I’m interested to see how your other group turns out.


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