Thursday, June 17, 2010

Five quick truths about the Workplace


There are so many "truisms" I could share about the Paycheck Plantation but I decided to share the five that sprang to my mind as extremely true no matter what kind of work environment you find yourself in. Without any fanfare, here are five quick things I know to be true about the workplace:

Some people just do not have a good work ethic. This is something that in my opinion has to be taught from a young age. If a person has never been taught (and shown) that you have to work for what you earn, the workplace is not where they are going to pick it up. I remember trying to mentor one young lady who acted like a paycheck was an entitlement just because she showed up every day. Very few companies have the patience to teach someone how to hustle. You either get it or you don't. And the ones that don't… wow! It's painful to have them around. There is just always someone who comes in not wanting to be there, watches the clock all day and leaves without accomplishing much. Every. Single. Day.

Some people live to work, not work to live. On the flip side, for some people – their job is their whole life. It's literally who they are, not what they do. You can't separate one from the other and neither can they. While on one hand, it's admirable that someone is that dedicated; on the other hand it's overwhelming for people who actually want to have lives outside of their 9 – 5. This person usually suggests the 7:00/8:00 am meeting, working through lunch and coming in on Saturday. There is a difference between great work ethic and workaholic.

One bad apple can spoil the whole bunch. This is why hiring is integral to an organization. Chemistry is everything. Bringing in one super-negative or super-sloppy or ultra-anal or not-as-talented or over-hyper person in a group without those characteristics is disastrous. Not that everybody needs to have the same work styles, but they have to be complimentary or all hell will break loose. The "bad seed" will bring down one other team member and the dominoes start to fall from there. I've seen it happen too often. There is truth to "work wives" and "work husbands", relationships with the people you spend 40 to 100(!) hours a week with need just as much care as any other.

Some people are only in it for the money. And that's fine. If you are a manager, knowing what motivates your workers is half the battle. Some people love their jobs and the people they work with. They are blessed and rare. Some are just about the paycheck. They don't want all the warm fuzzies, they don't want to bond; they don't want to make friends... they want their check. And they want their check to be bigger than everybody else's. As long as their single-minded pursuit of dollar bills doesn't infringe on your world, live and let live. There is nothing wrong with the paper chase unless you have to be shady to get it.

Not everybody is meant to do everything. God Bless Us Every One. The founder of Wendy's, Dave Thomas once said, "Some folks are better with the fries & Frostys than figures and forecasts." Okay? Not everyone is good with numbers. Not everyone is on their written communication game. Not everybody programs or writes code. And that's okay unless… you are a terrible writer in a communications role. You are terrible with numbers and you're in the accounting department. You're not a people person but you WORK IN HUMAN RESOURCES. [let me breathe in, breathe out, woo-sah] My point is sometimes what people are actually doing is not what they are good at. And until they face that reality (or someone makes them face it), work life is tough for us all. There is something to be said for "career path management."

So that's my list for today. What have you got? I could dedicate a whole post (and I still may) about one other truth – Not everybody who is in a management position knows how manage people effectively. Let BougieLand say Amen. 

Sorry, where was I? Oh, yes – so examples of things you know to be true about the workplace? Thoughts, comments, insights? The floor is yours.

23 comments:

sunt97 said...

There are some people that are not going to like you no matter what you do. You can get a project done on time, without having someone tell you over and over again, cheaply, but they will still not like you. You have to learn to get over it and keep it moving and get your job done.

Peace, Love and Chocolate
Tiffany

Ebster said...

That last comment about non-managers being manager is very true and happens quite often. It's like yes, Jim had the technical skills to be an awesome accountant, maybe even senior account. But in no way alone should that qualify Jim to manage people. Performance management and development! Nothing ruins a company faster than a bad boss. You have to train employees how to be good managers. Credibility & competence make the world go 'round... http://navigatHR.wordpress.com

SingLikeSassy said...

I hate the live-to-work person. My coworker finally had her baby and is on maternity leave. I took on her duties but unlike her, I leave at 6 p EVERYday. Why? 1. I manage my time well. 2. I disengage -- we aren't saving the world here or curing cancer. 3. Though I am on salary, I work in a union shop so anything past 6 p triggers overtime pay (this has been odd to me since day one but...) and they don't want to pay me overtime. Now, if I'm there doing work and I'm not getting paid....that's a fool's errand IMO. The staff is happier now cause I expect everybody to get up and get the hell out at 6 p as well and, as I'm leaving if I see folks at their desks, I tell them to log off.

I'm also a terrible "manager." I am a mentor. I believe in developing people. I don't like counting heads at desks cause I don't care if you are there or not, I care about results. Did the work get done? Did they meet deadline? That's what I care about. However, I work in a place where they like to count heads at desks and they are frustrated that I won't conform to that style despite the end result (great work) being the same. There is only one person working for me that I need to be that kind of manager with, the other folks are responsible adults.

Reecie said...

I am definitely a "in it for the money" and "work to live" kinda person. I'm very outgoing and personable, but I have a line--this is work, not my life. I'm not about friendships, I'm about doing my tasks for the day, staying late if needed on occasion as I am a "team player" then going the hell on with my life. rinse and repeat. lol.

ASmith said...

I'm not a micromanager, at ALL. I'm like you -- did you get the job done?

Anytime I've had to manage people, I make it clear up front that I'm not a micromanager. I'm open, will help where I need to and can, but once I give you the task and the necessary tools, I expect you to let me know if you're struggling or need help at which point I'm happy to help (which is not me doing it for you, it's helping you find the tools to get it done).

As well, I hate being micromanaged, but that's another issue.

rickyfontain said...

Well I work in training and have for years:

Rarley met a person with a poor work ethic. Not sure such thing exist. I've met people in the wrong job. I've met people that refuse to work beyond what they are being compensated for. That same person you think lacks work ethic may go home and cook for 4 hours straight because they love cooking. Chances are the person is in the wrong job or "checked out" because of some other grievance the mangers overlooked.

I work in HR and I'm not a people person. Training is a function of Human Capital. But my interaction with my consumers is limited since I rarely teach myself. But anyway, yes I'm in it for the money. Not a problem unless you work for an organization that is not known for fair compensation. If you are in it for the money make sure you are somewhere that promotes and compensates fairly or you will be unhappy. As far as needing to be a people person.....I think people that are people persons tend to think everybody should be a people person. I don't think you have to be a people person to accomplish most tasks but if you work in an organization that values that trait. You will notice they only promote people persons. Once again, it's important to find the right organization for you.

Pure Choco said...

You are speaking a little too much truth this week. I have everybody in the office reading this series. The funny thing is that it's stuff we all know it in print and well articulated does something. One of the managers came out and said,"Does everyone hate the birthday celebrations?" YES! We're going to have lunch brought in once a month instead and just acknowledge birthdays and accomplishments. So there you go. BnB - making workplaces better one at a time

JaymeC said...

Most definitely there are people with zero work ethic. If the way they have chosen to make money is not where they are putting in effort, that's still a lack of work ethic.

David Chase said...

We have a human resources person who is so not a people person. When you go in there with a problem, he is highly irritated to be disturbed from his paperwork. When he has to mediate, you can tell it makes him uncomfortable. Unfortunate choice of careers then.

I manage by committee and by consensus so everybody feels that they have a stake in the direction the department is going. Unless I need tostep in and make something happen.

Really enjoying the series as well.

JaymeC said...

I always feel bad for people that work in fields/areas that they cannot stand and have no interest in. Life is far more enjoyable when you find your passion and can make money at it.

baileyqc said...

Even worse is the person who abuses the role of manager, hate the power hungry folks who beat you over the head with their title.

rickyfontain said...

It's naive to think people always choose jobs they like. Like other people said in the post, for many people a job is just about paying bills. So you as a manager must discover what motivates people. People don't really hate jobs. They hate the nature of the work. Managers are supposed discover their workers talents and try to assign them, as much as possible, to jobs that motivate by allowing them to use their talents or do what they do well. If this can't be done then of course you can show them the door. But I think in most cases, managers haven't done their part. Blaming it on "Work Ethic" is kind of a cop out. Also, like I said, often times the perceived lack of work ethic is caused by the employee feeling wronged in some way. And managers often fail to discover these reasons.

Dr. Peppa said...

Just because someone doesn't like what they do doesn't mean they should slack it. If you haven't met someone without one, live a little longer - you will and it won't be pleasant. Sorry, some people flat out do not want to work. That cannot be blamed on anyone but the person.

Dr. Peppa said...

Great series - the thing is, they call it work for a reason. Some people forget that.

rickyfontain said...

I've managed at places where my staff made minimum wage. I really didn't think any of them lacked work ethic. But common sense should tell you some people are not gonna work an extra half hour or work particularly hard for a minimum wage job with no promotion potential. People aren't stupid. Sometimes people make up their mind that you will get no more labor than you are willing to compensate for. It always cracked me up that some managers would have the most ridiculous expectations of their workers. I mean really, their is not much difference between being unemployed and working minimum wage. You have to find different ways to motivate because at that level the money is not a motivating factor in anyones work ethic.

Man's World said...

And I've managed a team of all exempt employees making six figures each and some of them were decidedly lacking in work ethic. It happens. Not everyone wants to be motivated. I think that was Chele's original point.

Man's World said...

In a crazy point our IT manager does not know how to repair network problems. I'm not sure what he's good at but the last two times the server went down, he called in Geek Squad. Leading us to wonder - why don't we just outsource to Geek Squad?

Diana said...

And I sent a few people in my office to the site. All of sudden, we get an email this afternoon saying everyone is required to attention Sexual Harassment training by the end of the summer and all managers will be required to attend "fundamentals of management" - I'm not saying your blog did it - I'm saying it didn't hurt... WIN!

Mr. Skyywalker said...

Excellent point. Trying to get there

bougiesis said...

That is quite funny and leads me to ask --- what was the HR/Recruiter doing hiring an IT guy who can't do IT?

rickyfontain said...

Ok. I could start listing motivators.....but nevermind. Nobody's payin me. :-) I think my point was there are no bad employees...only bad managers. Let's be honest. If someone supposedly does have a work ethic problem, you should be able to terminate them using proper procedures of course.. If you can't terminate them then chances are they are doing their job and you just don't like the way they do it. In which case the problem is mangement.

BlackestBerry said...

This series has given me a lot to think about as I prepare to enter the workforce... thanks.

SBailey7 said...

Great post! All of these are very true.

It's been awhile since I've had the chance to check out your blog. I usually keep up via Twitter & Facebook. I like the new layout & colors.

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