Professional Behavior:

How to be Happier at Work

Mike Splane © 2005



     When I first became a manager, I was not very successful. My staff disliked me, their work was often second rate, their morale was low, and turnover was high.  I soon realized that my staff wasn’t responsible for the problems, my poor management techniques were. I needed to find a better way to manage. To tackle this problem, I asked myself what type of behavior I expected and desired from my own boss. I used this as a model for treating my staff. When I began treating people as I would want to be treated, my results improved dramatically. My own happiness and job satisfaction improved as well.


     I also wanted to become more effective and knew that understanding office politics was important. The key is getting people to want to help you, so you have to be liked.  I started studying other people’s behaviors to see what I could copy to become more popular and influential. I took notes of my observations of what I liked and disliked about my coworkers and bosses, trying to find successful behaviors to copy and unsuccessful behaviors to avoid. Those notes eventually became this table.


     As I modified my own behaviors, and people began to respond to me in a more positive way, I discovered an unintended side effect. I started liking other people more and became far more tolerant of their mistakes and shortcomings. I became kinder. It was a very positive change for me.


     I’ve revised this list several times, adding and deleting from it as I was promoted into higher levels of authority and as my understanding of management grew.  I added a leadership section in March 2005.


    Because this tool has had such a positive effect on my own life, I want to share it with others.  I hope you find it useful. 



Acting as an Individual

Positive Behaviors

Negative Behaviors

Solves problems                                         

Leaves problems for others

Gets results               

Makes excuses

Talks about work               


Looks for extra tasks       

Puts in time

Builds a team                   

Builds factions, betrays coworkers



Shares information                   

Withholds information

Helps others                    

Hinders others

Is honest and forthright      

Steals and tells lies

Accepts responsibility       

Blames others

Learns from mistakes                 

Hides and repeats mistakes

Innovates, tries new techniques     

Refuses to change

Produces quality work

Does sloppy work

Shows up on time

Keeps people waiting

Keeps customers happy        

Doesn't think about service

Meets deadlines                   

Moves slowly

Improves themselves

Thinks, “I can’t do it.”

Welcomes and learns from constructive criticism

Resents all criticism

Expands responsibilities             

Says, "It's not my job."

Is pleasant to work with           

Is aloof and unfriendly

Is considerate                    

Is rude


Carries grudges



Gives compliments 

Gloats over mistakes by others

Has fun                 

Hates their job

Dresses appropriately                  

Dresses like a slob

Anticipates consequences

Is constantly surprised

Never acts in anger or spite

Lashes out

Does what's right                  

Does what's expedient


Acting as a Leader and Manager

Positive Behaviors

Negative Behaviors

Builds a strong team by stressing collaboration

Creates fear by stressing internal competition

Cares about others

Only looks out for # 1

Listens to other people’s ideas

Refuses to compromise

Consults affected parties before acting

Makes uninformed decisions

Leads by example

Leads by fear

Builds people up

Tears people down

Takes on the toughest tasks

Delegates the undesirable tasks

Provides clear guidance and gets out of the way

Micromanages and/or ignores subordinates

Communicates clearly and often

Communicates poorly and without tact

Is careful to avoid techniques that de-motivate

Thinks people need motivating and manipulating

Instructs and explains   

Gives orders and makes demands

Encourages growth

Withholds opportunities

Forgives minor mistakes

Carries grudges

Provides meaningful, positive feedback

Ignores quality work, focuses on negatives

Provides resources

Hoards resources

Views subordinates as respected customers

Views subordinates as servants or irritants


The Payoff: Outcomes of Your Behavior Choices:

You are respected and admired

You are disliked and despised

People smile when they see you

People avoid  you

You earn promotions and rewards

You wonder why others get the rewards

You like yourself

You dislike yourself

Other people will help you

Nobody will willingly help you.

You live a great life

You live a miserable life


Good luck with your choices!