3 Questions to Ask Before Assuming Bad Attitude

3 Questions to Ask Before Assuming Bad Attitude


I was coaching a new manager who said she was getting really frustrated with the bad attitudes of her team. She wanted them to deliver better customer service and felt they were being resistant. Probing a bit, I found that she assumed it was a bad attitude but hadn’t checked for understanding and skill. 

Is it a bad attitude or lack of communication?

Before you assume a bad attitude or incompetence, every leader should ask themselves these three questions.

  1. Do your employees know what to do?
  2. Do they know how to do it?
  3. Do they know why they are doing it?


Communication is Key


Communicating the what, the how, and the why are the leader’s responsibility. Drilling down into all three of these questions is critical to aligning behaviors and attitudes that will create and sustain an optimal engagement and a consistent patient experience.


What to do


The what represents your expectations. In this case it was standards for service excellence—the service behaviors. 


How to do it


The how is training and coaching. While many organizations spend significant resources on one round of training, many stop there. Training, without coaching, is not nearly as effective. Training must be followed up with coaching by the manager. Why? Because coaching reinforces the “what & how.” 


Why they are doing it


The why ties back to how specific duties relate back to mission, vision, and values and how that task makes a difference in the lives of those they serve.  This connection to purpose helps foster engagement.


Once a leader can answer these three questions affirmatively and still see poor behavior, it is time to consider attitude. Do they want to do what is asked? Does their attitude reflect the organization’s standard of excellence? If not, it may be time for a crucial conversation. 

All of these—the what, the how, the why, and the want—must be in place to ensure an engaged culture and consistent patient experience. 

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