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Monday, December 12, 2005
Attitude is Irreplaceable
I saw someone get fired yesterday. Okay, it was a fast food worker, not a high level exec, but it was still and employee who got terminated by the supervisor. I was having a fast meal prior to an event and as I was awaiting my food, I was observing the supervisor running her crew.

The crew was made up of teenagers who didn’t seem to want to be at work on a Sunday evening. Instead of filling in time between food prep with other activities such as filling the ice machine or restocking the napkin dispenser, they were standing around looking at each other. The supervisor was having a hard time getting them moving. She was doing a good job in explaining the work that needed to be done and why they should be doing it while traffic was slow but she wasn’t succeeding in getting cooperation. As a result, she was “laying down the law”, so to speak, and being very pointed in her instructions.

At some point, a male worker with a nose ring decided he had had enough of being bossed around and made a snide remark. The supervisor immediately gave him the rest of the evening “off” and informed him not to come back unless he could come up with a better attitude. Amazingly, all the other workers who had been giving her a hard time, too, suddenly decided to get to work and stop complaining.

There are several lessons to be learned from this. First, the supervisor should have taken the young man to her office to have a chat rather than having the confrontation in front of the other workers. Of course, the example she set by terminating this young man had an immediate effect on the others. The long-term consequences of the public firing on crew morale will probably be detrimental, however. I could understand her frustration, though. She had a staff of lazy, sullen teenagers and a line of customers and no one was doing their job. She made a decision and got results.

Second, and probably the bigger lesson, is that no worker is indispensable. I don’t know what this young man’s main function was – whether he was French fry guy or shake man – but he was obviously operating under the delusion that he had the authority and could make his own rules. He learned quickly that was not the case. Whether it is a French fry cook or a CIO, everyone can be replaced.

Third, this just proves again that attitude is everything in your career. It doesn’t matter if you are the best darn shake man in the nation; if your attitude stinks your career is in danger. This young man’s attitude was not only the pits but it was contagious to the others in the crew. Employers can easily replace skills. Skills can be taught. Attitude can’t. Employers hire more on attitude and enthusiasm than on skills. Put two equally skilled candidates in the interview process for the same job and the one with the better attitude will get the job every time.

Feeling stressed out from the holidays? Are you being a Scrooge around the office? It’s time to rethink your attitude and advance your career. Not only do what is required but go beyond the basics and volunteer to work on special projects or tasks. It can be a career energizer.

November 2005 / December 2005 /


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