Archive for the ‘ Work Ethic ’ Category

Work Ethic of the 21st Century

In the past few months I have attended several office parties, luncheons and dinners. Standing, huddled in groups of three and four, grasping our wine glasses and searching for engaging conversations, we invariably collide on the topic of how hard people are working, or not working.

As a baby boomer – I’m at the very tail end of this massive group – I belong to a social class that “has” a work ethic. That’s what we talk about when we’re huddled together; “The problem with Gen Y is that they don’t have a work ethic!” We bemoan and empathize and worry and fret about what the future will be like when we leave the work place. A physician once told me that when he retires the hospital will have to hire two people to replace him. “The next generation just won’t work the kind of hours I work” he said.

I find it amazing that we, and I include myself in this group, believe that working long, unending hours for a company is the only type of work ethic that can and should exist. To us, every other work ethic is – well – just unethical. I wondered about this, so I looked up the word ethic and here is what I discovered: “a set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field or form of conduct.” So ethics are simply the set of principles and expectations of conduct that we create and believe are important.

The truth is that there are a host of work ethics. We baby boomers don’t have a corner on the market of “work ethics”. The next generation has their unique set of principles and conduct, and it’s the Work Ethic of the 21st Century. One day, their work ethic will become the dominant ethic, and we’ll become glorified or lionized in the history books for the ethics we espoused.

One day, Gen Y will huddle in groups of three and four, grasping wine glasses, and bemoaning the fact that the next generation just doesn’t have a “work ethic”.

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My #1 job

Here at Five Degrees Consulting, we have a book called “The Rules of Engagement.” It is twenty-one ideas to keep employers and employees on target and engaged. One of those rules is “Make other’s success your #1 job.”

When we share this with our clients, it is interesting to hear and see their reactions. For some, it really sets them back as they consider what it means to them day in and day out.

From the book…

An offensive lineman’s #1 job is to make the quarterback successful. He does that by making sure the defensive lineman never puts a hand on the quarterback. When we make sure the person standing next to us is successful, we create a chain of success that builds a strong organization.

In our world of dog eat dog, this can be a very difficult idea to implement. I commonly have to ask myself what I am doing to ensure that my colleagues are finding success. Sometimes I do all I can, other times I fall short. It gets even deeper when we consider that not everyone defines success the same as I do.

I’m curious what you think. Can one improve their own lot while focussing on the success of others? Will what goes around eventually come around professionally? Have you seen this work in your life?

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