Attitude/Aptitude Tool for Difficult Staff Conversations
By: Bob Wolf, The Retired Fitness and Strategy Dude
Greetings NIHCA friends. It was great to see everyone at our Networking Day a couple weeks ago. It sounds like the breakout sessions were fantastic.
One topic that came up during the Operations session related to dealing with employees who have great skills but seemingly come up short in personal and customer interactions. I mentioned an “attitude/aptitude” tool that can help with perspective and allows us to better address these situations. Here’s how it works:
Attitude and Aptitude Evaluation Tool
This tool (see below) uses a grid to help “score” an employee’s attitude and aptitude levels. It provides an objective viewpoint (a measurement) of a subjective topic. It also helps better identify areas that need improvement. First we need definitions.
Attitude: Defined as our overall attitude, attitude and willingness to change, ability to work within a team, general demeanor at work and to others, general positivity or negativity, etc. For some, this trait comes naturally and needs to be refined. For others, it’s a struggle. In either case, what’s needed is coaching – a form of development in which an experienced person supports a learner in achieving specific goals by providing training and guidance.
Aptitude: Is our effectiveness in our role and general quality of the work that we do every day. Aptitudes are achieved through training – skills, knowledge or fitness that relates to a specific skill.
How to use the tool
After explaining how the tool works, have the employee score himself/herself on their own time based on the definitions. Scoring is done by picking a number on the vertical axis (aptitude) and on the horizontal axis (attitude), and drawing lines until they intersect on the grid. Have the employee list his/her reasons for the scores (the “why’s”). At the same time, you score the same employee and enter your reasons. In your next meeting, discuss each other’s scores and the reasons, and then list strategies to improve them. Scores can indicate what the individual needs to improve and allows you to determine the means to do so, whether that’s through classes, webinars or discussions.
What the scores really mean
This tool gives two scores per employee: individual scores for attitude and aptitude, and a composite score. Although some scores will seem obvious (like the ones that fall into lower quadrants), they really don’t have meaning until you assign what’s a good score or bad.
You’ll also need to consider what you’ll tolerate between the two individual scores, that is, does an aptitude score of 8 offset an attitude score of 4? What will help is plotting the composite scores of all employees on the grid to see where the facility, as a whole, stands. If the bulk of scores are in the middle with a few outliers either high or low, is the middle what you’ll accept as a good facility score or do you need to move the whole team to a higher score? This will help lead you to defining your expectations and helping employees achieve them.
The reasoning – This tool, used with all employees, can help you elevate the facility to its highest levels of customer service and quality, two benchmarks of a strong culture. By engaging the employee in discussion – and even in identifying expectations – the employee becomes part of the solution, you get everyone on the same page, you foster buy in and you empower employees to grow and improve. (BTW, increasing one of the individual scores will increase the employee’s composite score, thereby elevating the facility score.)
To improve, the employee can increase either score, however, you should focus mostly on the one that is lowest.
This tool is useful at annual review time and during the year, only as needed, as it helps set a baseline and review results.
Scores can indicate what the individual needs to improve and allows you to determine the means to do so, whether that’s through classes, webinars or discussions.
Practice using the tool with leadership team members.
You may find that some employees will not or cannot be able to change to fit your goals. If that’s the case and a change is needed, one way to alleviate the awkwardness is a perspective that you’d rather the employee be happy in their job or career, even if it’s somewhere else.