Positive Attitude in the Workplace

Take a step back!

Positive Attitude in the Workplace

Take a step back!

Having a positive attitude in the workplace may seem easier said than done! But taking a step back, and choosing to be positive, can really pay dividends.

Do you feel fresh or stale at work? This is the fifth article in our series on workplace motivation and optimum performance. The first article: In Search of Optimum Performance, introduces the series. If you haven’t read this article yet then it may be a good place to start.

The key to a positive attitude in the workplace? Take a step back

If you think that you may be starting to feel stale in what you do, then perhaps it’s time to take a step back and remind yourself of why you’re doing it in the first place. This site is full of advice on how best to approach your work and your attitude to work. A quick flick through our workplace well-being pages will help.

But first, remember that our attitude to work and life is largely our own business, there is much about our own happiness that we can control. As Viktor Frankl, reflecting on his and others’ experiences of Nazi concentration camps famously said:

Everything can be taken from a man or a woman but one thing: the last of human freedoms to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.

Steps towards a positive attitude in the workplace
Try applying the following to your work:


Even if you can’t spend all of your time doing the specific aspects of your job that bring you the most happiness, try to adopt a positive attitude in the workplace to everything you do. Try to “re-frame” how you feel about your work.


Did you once love what you do? Try to rekindle the fire! Remember what it was that you once enjoyed and make a conscious effort to feel that way again. Are you doing less of what you really enjoy, less than when you were happier?


For a new challenge? Is it time to try something different, a fresh challenge? Speak to your boss about the possibility of trying something different or seeking development support to add to your skill set.


Be thankful for what you have. Think about the good things in your day – routines, surprises, relationships, small rewards. Focus on these positives, rather than the negatives that make you unhappy. Appreciate what you already have.


Think about the overall contribution your organisation makes to its customers or to society in general. Focus on your own input to this contribution. Is there something new you can do for your customers?


Try to consciously think the best about your work, rather than the worst. Positive thinking, looking for the best in people or situations, can work wonders if you just give it a try.


Why are you working? If all else fails reflect on what work brings to your life, even if it’s only about paying the bills. For many people its more, supporting families, allowing them to do other things in life. But when all is said and done, be positive about having the work in the first place.

The Most Powerful Force in Business?

One way to think differently about our attitude to work is to reflect on the provocative words of Yahoo senior executive, Tim Sanders. He asserts that the most powerful force in business isn’t greed, fear, or even raw energy: it’s love. This is what will give you a sense of meaning and satisfaction in your work. He argues that now, more than ever, the road to prosperity is paved with a commitment to generosity. Sanders observes:

“Business people who are the busiest, the happiest, and the most prosperous are the ones who are the most generous with their knowledge and their expertise. People who love what they’re doing, who love to learn new things, to meet new people, and to share what and whom they know with others: these are the people who wind up creating the new economic value and, as a result, moving their companies forward.”


How do you maintain a positive attitude in the workplace? One way is to encourage creativity. Creativity is often spurred by a sense of value in what we do. So to create the conditions for improved creativity try thinking again about the importance of what you do. Perhaps the fist step is trying to find or foster a passion in whatever it is you’re doing for a living.

To be creative often requires space and time. However, feeling you’re overloaded and stretched in what you do, or that you don’t have much discretionary time, will impact significantly on your ability to be creative. (See our article on the key leadership concept of valuing ideas. This is a great leadership story about the importance of giving people time and space.)

Whilst better management of time and space in your workload may help, creativity is also heightened by a positive attitude in the workplace.

Moving to optimum performance

This is the third article in our series on improving work motivation. The first: In Search of Optimum Performance, introduces the series. If you haven’t read this article yet then it may be a good place to start. Management is essentially a balancing act and the first article introduces a model which may help you to achieve optimum performance.

Our Optimum Performance model is based on six common management problem areas:

  1. Ease of work
  2. View of workload
  3. Amount of discretionary time
  4. Energy to tackle work
  5. Ability to be creative
  6. Getting the right things done

Take a look at the Optimum Performance Graph, below. Think about these questions to see how you can improve your performance and workplace well-being:

  • Where would you position yourself on each line, 1-7?
  • Which is most important to you?
  • Where would you like to improve your score?
  • What actions do you need to take to move yourself along the line?
  • What can you do to adopt a more positive attitude at work?.
  • What do you need to do to work more with your strengths on a regular basis?
  • What do you need to do to address any issues you’ve identified?


Work motivation using the optimum performance graph

The Optimum Performance Graph

For more on the Optimum Performance Series just follow the links in Further Reading.

More resources to help your work motivation

If you’re looking for more resources on motivation at work, we’ve bundled together these six PDF e-guides to help you put motivation at the heart of performance. At half the normal price! Read the guides in this order and use the tools in each. These guides are great value, packed with practical advice, tips and tools on how to motivate yourself (and others) to perform. (6 pdf guides, 176 pages, 26 tools, 15 tips and 22 insights for half price!)

Motivating Performance
Manage Your Own Performance
15 Performance Management Tips
SMART Goals, SHARP Goals
Workstyle, Lifestyle
Leading Insights

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