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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Creating A Positive Work Ethic

I think every generation believes that the new generation does not have what it takes to enter the workforce. After all the new kids didn't have to walk to school for 5 miles, up hill, both ways!  How could they know what it's really like to do what it takes.  The new kids have new skills.   They grew up using computers and if they don't know an answer they know where to find it.  They don't expect to spend 10-20 years at one place of employment.  They will be mobile and go where the opportunity is.  To read a great history on the change of the work ethic over the years, click here.

To compete for talent we have to create a positive and engaged workforce (Achor, 2012).  It's not, If you work hard, you'll be happy...It's if you are happy, you'll work hard. 

The “happiness advantage” is the discovery that nearly every single business outcome improves when a brain is positive as opposed to negative, neutral, or stressed. (Achor, 2012)

"To help these people capitalize on the Happiness Advantage, I often recommend that they keep one

thing in mind: the number 2.9013. This may seem random, but a decade of research on high and

low performance teams by psychologist and business consultant Marcial Losada shows just how

important it is.  Based on Losada’s extensive mathematical modeling, 2.9013 is the ratio of positive

to negative interactions necessary to make a corporate team successful. This means that it takes

about three positive comments, experiences, or expressions to fend off the languishing effects

of one negative. Dip below this tipping point, now known as the Losada Line, and workplace performance

quickly suffers. Rise above it—ideally, the research shows, to a ratio of 6 to 1—and teams

produce their very best work."  (Achor, 2012).

I have written about the importance of giving feedback.  The fact is, it is easier to catch people doing things wrong than doing things right.  Looking at it another way, though, it takes a more skilled leader to remember the importance of the Losada Line and invest time with employees to give positive feedback on all the things that are done right.  IT IS MORE FUN TO CATCH PEOPLE DOING THINGS RIGHT THAN TO CATCH THEM DOING THINGS WRONG.   Your employees will be shocked when you pull them aside and you give them a list of all the things that they are doing right.  Probably for years, no one has done that.  I have had people tell me that they have worked for 10, 15, 20 years and they have never had anyone tell them they were doing a good job!  Are you kidding me.  Does the workplace really have to be that way?  Surely not every job has to be a thankless job.  

When the leader takes time to compliment the team on teamwork....that teamwork will be repeated.  WHAT IS REWARDED IS REPEATED.  Any work group is only as successful as what can be accomplished when everyone begins to pull in the same direction.  Creating a shared vision of what needs to be accomplished and then rewarding progress goes a long way toward creating the desired results. According to Answers on-line, this is the definition of a positive work ethic:

To follow all company policies and procedures completely, arrive on time if not early, take breaks and lunches at agreed times and do not be late back, dress smartly, always give 110%, be honest and trustworthy, be friendly and helpful, maintain positive working relationships, respect your superiors, no tattos or piercings on view, minimal jewellery and make up, meeting deadlines, keeping work area clean and tidy, not bad mouthing the company


I want to end with some tips about the newest working generation.  I found this great piece which covers the work ethic very well:

Millennial (Generation Y). Born between 1981-2000.

Millennials have the reputation of having lazy work ethics and being hard to motivate which isn’t true – they just want interesting work that will make a difference.

They grew up in a culturally diverse school and play environment, are tech-savvy, enthusiastic, confident, well networked and achievement-oriented. Millennials are the best educated generation in history.

Thanks to mobile technology their very attentive “helicopter parents” were rarely out of reach. Their parents introduced them to almost constant education and well supervised activities. Their busy schedules and expanded educational opportunities are the root of their confidence and need for variety and challenge.

Millennials have been told by their parents that they can do anything. They’re often called the “Everybody Gets a Trophy” generation because their parents’ insisted that their childhood experiences be positive (everyone wins), and that everyone has a valid opinion and deserves to be heard.

Employment Expectations

Millennials do not expect to “pay their dues.” They are not shy and expect their opinions to be heard. They want to know they have access to an open door to ask questions. Millennials want to know their work is valuable to the company and / or environment… as well as to them and their career. They are driven less by money and more by accomplishment… for now at least.

Millennials want to express their creativity and be able to complete tasks using their own methods. They are learning-oriented and if they’re doing something wrong they want to know about it now so they can learn from it, but will not dwell on failure (because everyone wins).

Just like when they were young, Millennials like working in teams and being coached, need lots of praise and need to be told often they are on the right track and doing a great job.

Work Ethic / Loyalty

Millennials need detailed instruction about what you want – but let them determine how to get there. Make the work relevant and important to them and the company. If you engage them the right way they will be loyal and work hard. If they’re not satisfied they will quit now and find that job later – and if that doesn’t work out they can get support from their helicopter parents.

Millennials are accustomed to new ideas and situations, a constant opportunity to learn (or more accurately find out).

Praise Millennials often – daily even… and for sure… coach them.

From Bruce Mayhew Blog

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