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Monday, October 09, 2006

Design: Teaching Attitude

Whether we think about it regularly or not, attitude and employee morale play a large part in the success of any organization (and any learning progarm).

High morale and enthusiastic employees are a plus in any organization. As Malcolm Gladwell points out in his work The Tipping Point..."it only takes one or two disenchanted employees to spread bad morale like a contagious disease."

So, organizations most devote some of their training and learning resources to teaching a positive attitude toward the organization or at least in trying to influence the majority of employees toward a positive outlook concerning their required tasks and duties.

While most of the time, we do not think of teaching attitudes, organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the United Way attempt to teach attitudes toward helping other people who are not as fortunate. Advertisers attempt to teach attitudes toward certain products. Public awareness groups teach attitudes toward smoking, drugs, and unsafe sex. Many of the same techniques used by these groups can be used to help influences the attitudes of trainees toward new computer implementations, a change management initiative or a restructuring of the organization.

Several methods have been found effective in teaching and influencing attitudes. These methods include:

  • Endorsement of the concept by credible role models (leaders of the company, outside consultants, respected employees within the organization.)

  • Awareness of the likelihood of success (provide examples and case studies of other companies that have succeed with a similar program.

  • Emotionally charged media events (think of the launch of new software products, much fanfare)

  • Display of confidence and enthusiasm by those in charge (have company leaders openly and honestly discuss the new program or initiative)

  • Active participation in an activity or event (sometimes having a person take part in an activity will help them see its value—even if they were initially skeptical)

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