New year, new attitude

How are you going to start the new year? If you’re lucky enough to have a job, I suggest that you would be wise to assess how you are approaching it. With a few hard years behind us, the economy still isn’t where it needs to be, and 2011 is predicted to improve in some sectors, but it’s far from robust.
If you’ve been feeling disillusioned or even trapped by a job you dislike, showing your true feelings could really bite you when the economy picks up and jobs become more plentiful. You will need a good reference and marketable skills, because the market will be glutted with pent up demand. So how can you maximize the job you have now?
  • Imagine you had to re-interview for your current job. 
That isn’t as farfetched as you may think. Many companies have been acquired in recent years, and their positions are redundant with those in the acquiring company. Essentially, they are suddenly competing for their own job, and usually the person with the most up-to-date skills and best performance and attitude will win. What questions would you be asked? Could you demonstrate that you have added value? What kinds of tangible things have you contributed? What would your manager say about you, when he is forced to compare your performance with someone else’s? Do your peers think you’re good enough to warrant their support?
  • Overhaul your attitude. 
For example, if you have been down on your company, or frustrated with some of your co-workers, it probably shows. Even if you think you are hiding it, your body language and tone of voice usually give it away. It’s time for a talk with yourself. It may go something like this: “I may not love this job, but at least I have one. I’d better suck it up and shake off this negativity, or it could hurt my chances for a new job down the line.”
  • Find ways to up your game. 
For one week, try this experiment: before you walk through the door, tell yourself that you are going to approach your job with new vigor…as if it were the first day on your new job. Say good morning to co-workers you might otherwise ignore, tackle a routine task with enthusiasm and find ways to improve on your technique. Compliment someone, or thank someone for something they did. Eliminate grumbling or negative comments. In other words, see how it feels to do your job with a fresh approach. At the end of the week, take an assessment of how people responded and how you feel. Hopefully, it will convince you to try it again next week.
Have you ever watched the TV show “Undercover Boss”? The CEO goes undercover and pretends he is a front-line employee. He acts as if he is a trainee and works with a number of employees, and he learns a lot about his company from the bottom up. At the end, he invites the best employees to his real office and reveals himself. The best part of the show is when the CEO tells the employee how much his or her positive attitude, ideas and focus on the customer really make the difference. Pretend your CEO is watching you perform.
  • Upgrade your skills. 
This is the year to prepare for better times. Instead of just feeling trapped in a job you don’t like, why not go back to school part-time and get your degree? When the economy rebounds, do you think you will be more employable with a degree, or without one? If there is some special certification you’ve been putting off, why not do it now?
Your company probably is running pretty lean on head count, so why not ask to be cross-trained, or take on some additional responsibilities? The company benefits and so do you.
  • Stop taking it out on your family and friends. 
If you are unhappy at work, why let it spill over and ruin your personal life, too? Establish some new ground rules for yourself, such as not discussing work at home. Or, stop your relentless boss-bashing and focus on how their day was, instead? Stop drinking too much, and staying up too late, wallowing in your unhappiness. It only creates a vicious circle of bitterness.
Instead, plan some activities that are different from your routine. If you have some fun, interesting social and family plans, it will give you something positive to look forward to.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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