A positive work ethic includes how one feels about one’s job, career or vocation. It also is reflective of one’s attitude toward responsibility and self-respect. This attitude involves behavior, respect, communication, interaction, integrity, and how one gets along with others, including co-workers and customers or clients. Indeed, a strong work ethic demonstrates many attributes about an individual.
Work ethic includes such characteristics as personal accountability, punctuality, dependability, self-respect, honesty, and the quality of one’s workmanship. Some philosophers say that one’s personal work ethic is intrinsic, that it comes from within. It is a habit that is reflective of one’s personal philosophy. And positive habits can be, and should be, developed.
If you are proud of your work ethic, pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. If you are less than pleased with your work ethic, if you want to enhance your self-respect and your value to yourself as well as your employer, take heart! Change your attitude. Develop some new habits. You’ll be a better person for it.
But how does one go about strengthening or developing a strong work ethic? Here are some ideas:
The first part of a reliable work ethic is persistence. Building persistence is akin to building endurance for a race, slowly training yourself to work harder for longer periods of time. How does one become persistent? By building the habit of persistence. How does one build a habit? By repeatedly and consciously performing an action until it becomes natural. Habits are powerful things. Build the habit of persistence.
Perhaps even more critical than persistence is focus. To focus all of your energies, even for a short period of time, can be tiring. But combined with persistence it is a powerful ally.
Develop the habit of saying to yourself, “Do it now!” Then do it! By repeating the “Do it now!” mantra, then completing whatever task is at hand, a very strong personal motivator is developed. Avoid procrastination. build the “Do it now!” habit. Work with yourself for 30 days, and you will avoid procrastination and complete tasks as never before!
However, make sure that when you say to yourself, “Do it now!” that you immediately complete the task at hand. That will develop the habit. Not completing the task at hand, however, will develop the opposite habit. That is, procrastination.
Forming the “Do it right” habit. Poor quality, sloppy, hastily finished work, or spending too little time working out details, leads to poor quality workmanship. The “Do it right” habit means slowing down a little to correct problems before they occur. Pride of workmanship goes hand-in-hand with developing self-respect as a reflection of the quality of your work.
Set two deadlines. One to complete your quality work, and the other to review and polish your work to make sure it is completed in a satisfactory manner.
Imagine how much more valuable you are to yourself as well as your employer. You will develop a reputation for getting things done in a timely manner with an eye on quality workmanship. You truly become more valuable as an employee.
Another equally important concept is professionalism, which has been defined by Osmond Vitez of Demand Media as “the strict adherence to courtesy, honesty, and responsibility when dealing with individuals and other companies in the business environment. This trait often includes a high level of excellence, going above and beyond basic requirements.”
Combining a strong work ethic with professionalism is a powerful combination. It will enhance your reputation, your self-respect as well as the respect of others, from team players to co-workers to managers.
Develop these habits and watch your success grow.
Richard M. Knappen is president of Chessmen Career Movers, an outplacement, career management, and consulting firm that is one of the oldest and largest locally-owned companies of its type in Southern California.