By Ronald Spencer Sr., ANAD Employee Assistance ProgramNovember 1, 2018
ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- What is an attitude and how is it developed?
Webster defines attitude as, "A position of the body manner or carrying oneself. A state of mind or feeling. Disposition."
There are four stages of cultural adjustment, which were originally conceptualized by anthropologist Kalervo Oberg in a talk to the Women's Club of Rio de Janeiro in 1954.
When you were first hired at Anniston Army Depot, you were probably elated. This is called the Honeymoon Stage.
By the time you started working, had you formed an opinion of the people and the customs?
Do you recall telling your friends you had a job at Anniston Army Depot? What was their reaction? "Oh boy, better you than me!" or "That's a great place to work!"
Maybe someone told you the depot works long hours; that overtime interferes with your family life.
They may have also talked about the pay or said you would be able to take good care of your family.
From the time you were hired until you began work, you heard all the opinions, both positive and negative, and formed a mental picture of Anniston Army Depot. This picture was then transformed into an attitude.
In my experience, most people go through certain stages when they make any life change.
After the initial shock, whether it's positive or negative, we experience what Oberg called the Culture Shock Stage. It has also been coined as the irritation or hostility stage.
This could be a short stage or it could last well into our employment.
I believe this is the most important phase of our adjustment.
Basically, hostility is prolonged by our attitude and how well we adjust to certain situations. This is the stage when we want to hurt ourselves or someone else.
For example, I was in the hostility stage shortly after I arrived at ANAD because I lacked computer access to do what I was hired to do. I almost turned the position down because I had not found a parking spot for my recreational vehicle. I also began to miss my family.
Some of us arrived and found security on the depot is tight and we cannot move around without an escort until the security checks are completed. Employees who are retired from the military learn there is no Base Exchange, Post Exchange, commissary, or gas station.
I'm sure you see where the hostility comes from.
As individuals, we need to understand everyone goes through this stage. The sooner we pass through it, the sooner we become more productive members of the depot.
This is important for managers and supervisors to understand also -- that's why we need to do everything in our power to get our employees completely settled in.
The next stage is what Oberg called the Gradual Adjustment, Humor, and Perspective Stage. I simply call it the Humor Stage.
This is when we look back at the things we experienced in the hostility stage and laugh about them.
You can tell when a person reaches the humor stage because they smile most of the time; it's a distinct change in demeanor.
The final stage is the Home Stage.
At that point, we have settled in and now refer to the workplace as a good place to work. We have come to realize, either consciously or unconsciously, that Anniston Army Depot is home, at least for now, and we are going to make the best of it.
In conclusion, attitude is adjustment, learning, understanding and, as Webster said, "A state of mind."
So let's make our stay at the depot a positive one, with a positive attitude. And, for the supervisors, let's help our employees adjust to their environment and keep a positive attitude.
Finally, we cycle through these stages whenever a change occurs - on the job, at home, in school or life in general. Mangers, supervisors, coworkers, friends and family, lets be aware of these stages and keep life positive.