Attitude, Initiative and Engagement


There are three facets of workplace participation that can make all the difference in productivity and results: attitude, initiative and engagement. These characteristics may come naturally to some, but often they must be cultivated in a workplace. Here’s an excerpt from my article on the subject; use the links below to get the full PDF.

Attitude – Yours, Mine, and Ours in the Workplace

Your attitude is your choice. Choose well. Choose to surround yourself with the thoughts you want to have. Set boundaries on those inside and outside of your work who impact your thoughts. If you live with a person who is constantly stating things in the negative, consider having a conversation about adjusting that tone. If there are friends that can’t seem to get out of the negative place, maybe consider distancing yourself just a little bit in order to self-preserve. In the workplace, it’s a little harder to put space in place. It’s likely you’re not in a position to have the positive conversation talk with co- workers, but think about your own attitude.

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Initiative – Or is it interest?

I believe at the core of the lack of initiative is lack of interest. Visualize the least motivated person you know personally or professionally. Can you picture them? Got it? I bet you’re picturing a person who is detached from the situation, looks bored, or appears irritated. What you may have is a corporate employee low on initiative who does what’s asked but doesn’t ever step it up a notch.

How can you create more initiative in the workplace? Find out what aspect of the job interests the employees. If at all possible, give them responsibilities in that area.

For example, I once consulted in an eye doctor’s office where one staff member was deemed the troublemaker. When I met with her and asked her questions about her job, she showed only mild interest in anything work related. Finally, I switched topics and asked her if she ever had a job she loved. She responded by telling me about her retail clothing job she had when she was just out of school.

With the doctor’s permission, we asked her to take over displays in the optical area and in the windows. When her creative work got noticed and she was praised by others, her confidence went up and work performance improved.

Initiative comes from being interested in the work at hand. What is it going to take to get all team members interested in your product, your services, and the guests that you are privileged to serve?

Engagement – Ready for Battle

While initiative is one’s personal responsibility to action, engagement means a formal promise, or, in its original form, ready for battle.

What do we mean when we say, “We want engaged staff, or how do we facilitate that behavior?”

Engaged staff means present in the moment and ready to take an action that fulfills the promise you have made to your guest. A server at a restaurant is engaged when he or she hears me place my order. For example, I already know I have to indicate a salad dressing, a side item choice, and a beverage, and do so when I order.

A truly engaged server will smile and say thank you or possibly repeat the order if I said it too fast. A disengaged server will say, “How would you like that meat prepared? Do you want the soup or the salad? Would you like lemon with your tea?”

You get my point.

I’ve had this happen on many occasions in all kinds of industries and so have you. The disengaged employee doesn’t really listen and is on automatic pilot. How do we help staff be more engaged? What about asking for ideas from the team on how to do things differently or smarter?

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Attitude, initiative and engagement are the cornerstones to a successful organization. They do not appear automatically but rather through skillful planning and execution.

Meet Laurie Guest

Meet Laurie Guest

An entrepreneur, keynote speaker and author, Laurie Guest, CSP is a “go-to-resource” for customer service excellence. For more than two decades, she has shared her practical point of view on customer service and staff development with audiences and companies across the country, blending real-life examples and proven action steps for improvement. Her latest book, The 10¢ Decision: How Small Change Pays of Big, presents her most sought-after and impactful strategies to find and retain the best staff and highest-quality customers while delivering exceptional guest experiences.

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