Dear Manager,

As mangers, we have all been graced by that very special individual(s) within our organization who, for the lack of another term “simply sparkles.” When you see them or speak with them one can’t help but smile. These individuals bring us unlimited pleasure simply to be in their presence. We can’t seem to have enough of their involvement and participation. These individuals rise above the day-to-day challenges of life.

As life would have it, there are also those at the opposite end of the spectrum. From time to time, management must deal with an individual whose negative approach has the unfortunate posture to turn our highs into lows.

Yes, these are the contrasts of personalities that we all experience. Fortunately, most of us, and those with whom we work, fall somewhere in between these contrasting styles. The balance of styles within an organization can be considered its barometer. The higher the barometer’s reading, the sunnier the skies in your organization’s daily forecast; the lower the reading, the greater the chance for stormy skies ahead. It’s simply amazing how one individual can turn a very sunny day into a natural disaster.

The single greatest factor affecting the character and culture of an organization – yes, every day – is ATTITUDE.

Of even greater concern is the impact a single negative attitude can have on the psyche of others within the organization, including us. Combine this with the inordinate thought process and conversation they control, and you can begin to see how far reaching their impact becomes.

Generally, the stabilizing force of any organization is its managers. We provide the consistency, the global confidence that all is well, that indeed the skies are blue, or will be again soon…

My experience has taught me that failure to address an “attitude issue” directly not only destabilizes one’s ability to manage, but undermines the confidence and morale of others “victims” within the organization. We all get caught up with “what is in our face.” Even though we might have twenty shining stars, a single negative individual wields amazing power. It affects us all.

There is a tendency to work slowly through this challenge. No one enjoys conflict, we simply hope it will all “work itself out” with time. As often as I have tried this approach, I’m afraid that nothing ever worked itself out! In many instances, attitude issues often originate outside the workplace. When this is the case, it is obviously much more difficult to get to the root of the problem. The situations where I have found success, however, have been the result of addressing the issue swiftly, directly and confidently.

Certainly the victory comes with saving a potentially valuable relationship. While this is the goal, it is not always within our control. I recently read a quote from John Malfura, a Portland-area manager, which stuck in my mind. He has challenged his employees by asking, “If your job isn’t fun, then why are you doing it? This is supposed to be a fun place, and if you have fun and exude that, those around will also.”

Yes, it can be as simple as that. Some folks, however, have never learned how to “make their own fun.” They may believe that it’s the responsibility of others to “make it fun for me.” Similar to our holding teachers responsible for “making” us learn, or a spouse for “bringing” us happiness, these individuals are destined for personal dissatisfaction.

I use these examples for the sole purpose of illustrating that this type of attitude will never bring long-term benefit to an organization. These individuals, for no other reason than their own attitude, have taken themselves out. They will never be stars.


A star assumes full responsibility for their own happiness and making their own fun. These individuals understand that their circumstances are a result of their choices. If their circumstances can’t be positively improved upon or deemed acceptable, they have the option of considering other choices. What other effective alternatives are there? It all comes down to a positive thought process.

These are the individuals who nourish our soul. It is the stars who often require so little time and focus, and yet deserve the wasted time and energy devoted to the alternative. It’s time to tell the kids that can’t play nice to go home!


With all the tragedy we see via the news media, I believe it is increasingly difficult to simply keep it fun. Combine this with the constant link of technology, let alone financial pressures, and I believe all of our lives have become a bit more (too) intense. It has become increasingly important to take the time to enjoy and appreciate personal and simple pleasures. In today’s world, these are essential to a well-rounded and successful career, and survival.

As managers, we must take steps to insure that simple pleasures flourish in those with whom we work. The old school of thought would not have considered this life-saving (let alone attitude-saving) approach to business. In the past, we would simply have continued to ask for more. More time, more effort, greater commitment, constant communication and availability on call. We must accept the fact that the professional work place is all ready over committed!

I am not suggesting that all hope is lost, nor am I suggesting that we expect less or take an extended holiday. The professional bar for business success continues to stand tall. If counterproductive attitudes are no longer acceptable, the only question becomes how do we continue to meet our goals and protect the survivors?

We must learn to first appreciate our stars a bit more, and surround them with their peers! Personal growth for us and others holds the key. If we have no more time to give, the only alternative is to be much better and more focused with the time we have! While some with “an attitude” have come to believe they “have arrived” relating to personal abilities and growth, why is it that these are the individuals of whom I’m most suspicious?

Even in the most professional relationships I have, there is no one who does not have their own areas that need attention, this author included. We all need to take the steps to monitor and balance our personal and professional lives. This balance is the evidence that we know how to play. The new standards can then be set for all of those we work with as well. At all costs, save yourself and save your stars. It is the underlining positive attitude that is the true reflection of an organization.

As managers, we frequently can’t see any of the stars that sparkle due to a short term overcast. The overcast will come and go; the stars are constant.

Personal Regards,


INTERPERSONAL© is published by INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM, Keenan Longcor, Editor, ©2010. Duplication of this publication is permitted for both personal and business use. Excerpts may only be quoted with acknowledgment of INTERPERSONAL/INTERPERSONALBIZ.ORG as the source. For re-publication rights, please contact the editor at KEENAN@INTERPERSONALBIZ.COM