Creating the right work ethic

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  • 1. Creating The Right Work Ethic By Chelse Benham There is less to fear from outside competition than from inside inefficiency, discourtesy and bad service. Anonymous It was not until the Protestant Reformation swept Western Europe that physical labor became culturally acceptable for all persons, even the wealthy. The Greeks, Hebrews and Romans regarded work as a curse to human intellectual growth. According to Historical Context of the Work Ethic by Dr. Roger B. Hill, found at the Greek word for work was ponos, taken from the Latin word poena, which meant sorrow. Manual labor was for slaves. The cultural norms allowed free men to pursue warfare, large-scale commerce, and the arts, especially architecture or sculpture, Hill writes. The ancient Greeks believed if a person worked, when there was no need to do so, he ran the risk of obliterating the distinction between slave and master. Fortunately, slavery no longer sets the bar. The cultural norms of ancient societies regarding work are diametrically opposed to the work ethic of today, but that did not happen overnight. Interestingly, it was religious underpinnings that correlated work with a higher purpose and imbued it with a sense of worthiness. St. Thomas Aquinas developed a hierarchy of professions and trades associating them to human spirituality. During that time the Protestant Reformation, a period of religious and political upheaval in the sixteenth century, changed the perspective of work. Martin Luther and John Calvin independently and inextricably coupled a person's vocation to their spiritual calling. According to Hill, this tenant was significant because it affirmed manual labor. (Both religious leaders) believed that people could serve God through their workand that a person should work diligently in their own occupation and should not try to change from the profession to which he was born. Thus, the Protestant ethic was assured. It gave moral sanction to profit making through hard work. As people move into a new job, whether it is as experienced professional or graduate, they need to learn the organizations culture and try to fit in, said Lourdes Servantes, placement specialist at The University of Texas-Pan Americans Career Placement Services Office. The degree does not make the person. This goes for anyone, but most especially graduates. Students need to be prepared to start at the bottom and earn the respect of their employer and co- workers. They need to be humble and open-minded to the advice being given and come to the job with a positive attitude.
  • 2. According to the University of Wisconsin Career Services Web site, employers number one complaint, with newly hired graduates, is the attitude they bring to the workplace. Adopting the right attitude is one of the most important things a person can do to achieve a strong work ethic and guarantee career success. But, what determinants make for a strong work ethic? This Web site lists the following: Readiness to learn - Your employer knows you are smart; now show that you can learn. Readiness to change - Organizational life is full of changes, so you need to be flexible. Respect Your organization is less than perfect; respect it for what it is. Confidence Be confident about your potential, but humble about your current capability. Open-mindedness Be open to new ways of thinking and of doing things. Long-term perspective Be aware of where todays work will take you tomorrow. Work ethic Go the extra mile and do the whole job, and then some. Positive attitude It is the doers who get ahead, not the complainers. By adjusting your attitude work becomes more enjoyable. If your attitude is negative, perhaps the work you are performing does not meet the expectations you had in mind. Expecting the unexpected is a better way to look at things. Flexibility and adaptability are necessary characteristics to cultivate. If you find yourself frustrated about any of the following situations, you need to change your expectations and look at alternatives for the solution. I never really know how well Im doing. Work is boring. Things arent like they said they would be. They dont tell me what Im supposed to do. If they were really interested in me they would help me. Nobody will tell me how things work around here. They keep changing their minds. This is grunt work; its beneath me. They dont want my new ideas. Remember that when you join a company you have to fit in. Absorb the workplace culture and become acquainted with how things run and get to know the people around you. The School to Work Web site lists the following rules to remember when entering a new job: You are an outsider until you prove otherwise. Just because youre being paid does not mean that people have accepted you.
  • 3. You can not change the system until youre part of it. You need to respect and learn the way things are done before making noise about the way things should be improved. Avoid big splash strategies. Make a big splash by being mature enough not to try right from the start. Admitting what you do not know is more important than showing what you do know. You need to learn the ropes before you can have any hope of getting new ideas accepted. Build a track record of success. Not home runs, but just solid base hits. It is also important to be aware of the impressions you make. You must place a premium on impression management in your first year. As one manager said, You are really in a fishbowl right now. Whenever you start any job I dont care what it is there are a lot of people watching and trying to assess your ability to succeed. Everything you do when new will be magnified in its impact because you have no track record, so it is the impressions and perceptions others have of you that count. How to Survive the First 90 Days, found at suggests ways to manage the impressions you are leaving with others. Giving 100 percent Committing to the work ethic is the single most important way to face the demands of the workplace. Cultivate a positive work ethic right from the start. Personal Habits That Mean a Lot Arriving late and unkempt presents a poor attitude. Personal preparations affect job performance and the boss's perception of you. Crossing the Line Expressing good workplace manners and courtesies enhances everybody's work performance. Be friendly to co-workers while observing social boundaries. Workplace Conduct Workers who are disrespectful, rude or invade the personal space of others are disruptive and show a lack of respect for their co-workers. Be mindful of appropriate workplace conduct. Listening Skills Paying attention is at the heart of any job. In order to succeed, you need to focus on learning new tasks, following instructions and being honest about your abilities. Doing It the Boss's Way One of the qualities a boss expects from a new worker is dependability. Do what you say you are going to do. Keeping promises is one way to build trust. Whether you work for an organization or you own a company your success relies on others trust and respect in you to succeed. Word-of-mouth referrals and the way people talk about you play a large part in how others perceive you. It is prudent to build effective relationships with people from the very start and protect the relationship thereafter. Wherever you work, the people around you determine how things get done, decide your future, and determine the success of the organization. Successful careers demand that
  • 4. you develop people skills, and that might mean learning to become a good follower and team player. Organizations want employees who fit their culture and embrace it. If you dont take time to understand the culture, you are almost assured of making many dumb and embarrassing mistakes that will hurt your career. Become organizational savvy. This means learning how an organization really functions. Learn about the hierarchy and how information travels within the company. Furthermore, offers these tips to creating the right work ethic: Remember New-employee dues. Youll win more respect by paying your dues cheerfully than by resisting. Understand the big picture. Focus on the organizations priorities, not on your own. Find your niche. Learn the role the organization wants you to play, then play that one, not your own. Finally, Take Responsibility It is your responsibility not your employers to make your transition to work a success. The good bosses will help, but its your career that is at risk, so if they do not, remember that excuses will not get you promoted. Take the initiative and responsibility now. Only you can put you on the road to earning the outstanding rating youll need to move up in your field. I don't think anybody yet has invented a pastime that's as much fun, or keeps you as young, as a good job. Fredrick Hudson Ecker, Chairman Metropolitan Life