What Employers Need
Bill Cottringer

“The employer generally gets the employees he deserves.” ~J. Paul Getty.

Knowing what employer’s need—not necessarily what they think they want (or what they deserve?)—can greatly improve job success in the organization for both employers and employees. And, in today’s market, this knowledge can help both, in getting jobs and being successful ahead of the keen competition that is going on all around them. So what do employer’s need? Technical job competencies? A hard-wired set of particular knowledge, skills and abilities? Specific softer personality characteristics or fixed traits? None of the above.

Current work research says the above things only account for about 15% of the work failures with something else driving the remaining 85% of both successes and failures in job performance. The 15% may be what employers think they want from employees and employees may think that is what they are supposed to bring to the job to get hired and be successful. But research says otherwise—that the right attitude is what most helps employers and employee succeed at work. The right attitude is what both employers and employees need to have and it is identifiable and measurable.

The next question is what is the right attitude? Current research reveals that there are some common general attitudes all employers need, fitting to a standard work culture of productivity and job satisfaction, while there are also specific ones fitting to the culture of the particular business and industry. This is much like the model college curriculum is built upon—general requirements and specific electives. It makes good sense.

The right attitude requirements that employers need include these seven attitudes which are a free choice for all employees:

1. Positivism

Employers don’t want or need negativity, which just gets in the way of good teamwork and productivity. Sound research has always linked optimism—expecting good results and being resilient in failures and not taking them too personal—to both success and happiness (as well as better health, wealth and relationships). Isn’t that enough reason alone to at least try and lean in a positive and optimistic direction, as opposed to a negative, pessimistic one? It is for half the people in the world.

2. Teamwork

The easiest way to not get a job today is to focus mainly on what the job has for you, rather than what you can do for your employer’s team to be successful. This prevalent “me-ness” is a growing problem for employers today because they waste so much time dealing with it and it disrupts productivity in the organization. Team work is always enhanced by being interested in others and having sensitivity to their needs, especially their emotions behind their behavior as individuals. Moreover, by now the Gestalt Principle is common knowledge—that the team working together can always accomplish much more than any of the individual members can working alone. For one thing, teams are more creative than individuals.

3. Problem-solving

The world is divided in half on most of these general attitudes. There are employees who ask good questions and bring possible solutions or answers to solving problems. And then, there are employees who spend most of their time stirring the pot, looking for problems to point out or blame others on, and giving their clever answers to other’s questions. Guess who is most likely to get hired. The problem-solvers. Most employers already have enough problems to deal with and don’t need more.

4. Sense of humor

Most work is serious stuff with the pressures of meeting deadlines, satisfying customers and achieving a healthy bottom line. But no matter how serious things get, there is always time to pause and laugh and not take yourself quite so seriously. A good sense of humor is an essential ingredient in being likeable, just like being agreeable, rather than disagreeable. Likeable employees make up a likeable company, which will always outperform the unlikeable ones. If you don’ have a sense of humor and want to get hired and succeed, work on it! The same goes for the company who doesn’t make time to laugh.

5. Coachability

Employers need employees who want to learn, grow and improve in the job, rather than come to the doorstep thinking they already know everything and can’t improve. Organizations also need good coaches who the employees can trust, asking for help without that being view negatively. Being coachable, with good coaching, can help augment what technical abilities and skills an employee doesn’t have or ones that are underdeveloped. Being enthusiastic about learning how to do a good job for your employer and seeking help to do that will always lead to success and job satisfaction. Also, the most successful employees are always just a little bit unsatisfied with their accomplishments and don’t quit until they get it right. This will impress any employer.

6. Responsibility

The right attitude about responsibility that is needed by today’s employers is for employees to make a reasonable effort to give their fullest attention and best effort to do their jobs, to the best of their ability. This includes a willingness to take reasonable risks and make mistakes, but to take ownership of those mistakes and accountability for fixing them, when they happen. Responsibility and dependability go hand-in-hand and responsibility is a foundation of good teamwork. And this will undoubtedly require the employers to praise reasonable risk-takers without over-reacting when inevitable mistakes are made.

7. Adaptability

The one thing we all know that is inevitable today is change. Having an open mind and being flexible and adaptable to change is a free choice that just makes good sense. Resisting change generally only delays it temporarily and often makes it worse to accept, especially when it comes around again with more vengeance. And, being the changer rather than the changee, is always more comfortable and beneficial, both in the short and long run. Adaptability is a big part of coachability, as well as positivism and problem-solving.

Conducting a Good Interview

A good interview can accurately measure the degree of a general attitude needed by employers with hardball, fast-pitch questions rather than slow-pitch softball ones. For example to measure an applicant’s positive attitude you can ask something like, “Tell me about a past work situation where being positive, rather than negative, helped you succeed, and how you managed to remain positive when the situation was pretty negative?

Or, if you are trying to measure a person’s attitude towards their own coachability, consider a question like, “Tell me about a previous boss who helped you improve. Spell the name. Was the relationship originally a good one or not at the beginning? What could you or your boss have done to improve the relationship? If I called your boss what would he say about your strengths? What would he say about what you still needed to improve?

Now unfortunately, I can’t impose any of the specific attitudes particular businesses or industries like education, technology, manufacturing or medical industries need, and that has to be the employee’s and employer’s responsibility to research and identify clearly. The best way to start is to talk to someone in that particular business, who exemplifies the desired work culture to find out what kind of attitudes are most helpful to be successful and content there. Never assume you know because you may be surprised.

Choosing to develop and display these seven general attitudes will more than double your chances of getting your job and being successful in that job. Employers who interview for this right attitude will enjoy more success. This is a win-win situation for both employers and employees. And undoubtedly, everyone will be happier with these attitudes rather than their opposites.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is Executive Vice-President for Employee Relations for Puget Sound Security, Inc. in Bellevue, WA, along with his hobbies in being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains and rivers of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including, “You Can Have Your Cheese & Eat It Too” (Executive Excellence), “The Bow-Wow Secrets” (Wisdom Tree), and “Do What Matters Most” and “P” Point Management” (Atlantic Book Publishers), “Reality Repair” (Global Vision Press), and Reality Repair Rx (Authorsden). Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or ckuretdoc@comcast.net