I was training a group of public agency managers the other day and asked them the question, “provided you had the option for a pool of prospective employees, all with baseline qualifying skills, and could choose between one with extraordinary skills and knowledge or one with a demonstratable great work attitude, which would you choose?’ The overwhelming choice was the employee with a great attitude toward work. I heard stories from experienced managers who told of greatly skilled and experienced employees that were “projects” and “problems” to their supervisors/managers instead of “producers”. They told of how, in every case, their best employees had always great work attitudes. There are high expectations of Public agency employees. In the public sector, managers, and all employees for that matter, are under great scrutiny, and rightfully so, from decision makers and the public to provide a high level of effectiveness while spending public money.
You see, from a manager’s perspective, skills and knowledge can be trained, but great work attitude is something that is a rarity. An employee with a great work attitude is simply easier to manage. He/she doesn’t complain about the work, instead embraces it, makes the most of it. Great work attitude seeks to be effective, doesn’t misuse leaves, likes what they do and works to make their supervisor/manager successful. Reliable, productive, team-player, conscientious, one who stimulates good in the workplace are terms that describe this individual. This attitude, as told by managers, yields the “best employee” designation, the go-to person, the model. Consequently this relates to an overall positive career vector, if applied over time. And remember, this career vector is not because of superior skills or knowledge, its simply because of attitude toward work.
So what does this mean to you, who may be seeking employment in public sector? These days the public sector jobs are some of the most stable and well-compensated careers out there. These jobs are worth you checking your own work attitude. Managers are clamoring for not just good employees, but great ones. Its attitude that makes the difference to them. Come to your interview looking to give them what they need in an employee. Look for ways to talk not only about your skills and knowledge, but your attitude about work. Give them an assurance in so many words how you look at work, and how you are there to add value. This may require that you first do some sole-searching yourself, asking yourself just what kind of an employee you are. Whose interests do you have in mind while being paid for your work? How can you adopt the philosophy of every day adding value to your workplace and shunning negativity or unproductive complaining, being a positive example and even an agent of positive change in your workplace?
If you can adopt such a work philosophy, get that across in an interview and apply it liberally to your work, it may not only get you the job, but may very well mean you are on an upward vector with your entire career. You, your employer and the Public all win by you adopting a great workplace attitude!