What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Hacking employment, improving work, professional development
User avatar
unemployable
Posts: 472
Joined: Mon Jan 08, 2018 11:36 am
Location: Homeless

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by unemployable » Thu Nov 07, 2019 1:07 am

I mean enough of the right kind of work and you can quit when you're 39. That's kind of why we're all here.

User avatar
fiby41
Posts: 1064
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 8:09 am
Location: India

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by fiby41 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:25 am

Albeit macht frei!

7Wannabe5
Posts: 5245
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 7:59 am

Some humans are in possession of a great deal of brute muscular animal energy for which they need to find an outlet, so they invented things like "work ethic" and burpees competitions. Recently, I was out in the woods with an ESTJ and I was reading a book while he was wielding a chainsaw. He accused me of being "lazy" and I replied that I was actively engaged in altering the composition of the landscape of my brain, and maybe he would be better served by spending more time reading before making decisions leading to work involving the use of a chainsaw. However, I must admit that it was likely more the case that at the age of 54 I am pretty much baked on help-mate work. Either I am going to be the one running the chainsaw and making the decisions or I am "just" going to be reading a book.

IOW:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voow21pp4Ds

BMF1102
Posts: 54
Joined: Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:26 pm

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by BMF1102 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:12 am

In many trades a good work ethic is nothing more than showing up everyday, on time, sober, having a decent attitude and doing your job (with out too much slacking off). That's it that's all it takes to do well and get a good name. No need to be a ball of fire or the sharpest guy on the job. In fact being a halfwit who does the former is preferred over an all star with a bad attitude or who has a habit of calling in or quitting a job early. Now obviously if your sharp and efficient at what you do and do all the things I mentioned at the beginning you'll get on better jobs and move up the ladder if that's what you want.

The only way I can maintain any semblance of a "good" work ethic is to only work a few weeks at a time. After about 4-5 weeks on a job I'm ready to pull the plug take a break then move onto something different.

Scott 2
Posts: 1343
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:04 am

To contrast, in my situation, a good work ethic starts with being on time, doing the job and getting along. But then you also need to learn new skills independently, apply them to constantly improve productivity in your work, and pro-actively take on additional work as those gains emerge. Your boss doesn't know what you do well enough to lead this, so you need to figure it out and sell what you do within the organization.

If you have a great work ethic, you are also doing that learning and sales within the context of the greater professional community, so you are seen as a leader in your field and can draw other people with good work ethic into the company.

From what I can see, outside of hubris, the pressure of progressively more people depending on your work is what keeps people engaged.

Jin+Guice
Posts: 465
Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2018 8:15 am

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Jin+Guice » Thu Nov 07, 2019 10:12 am

@horsewoman: I know, that's why I put it. I think it serves as a useful reminder that a "good work ethic" and "work" are not virtues in and of themselves, though many would have you believe otherwise.

theanimal
Posts: 1293
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: Gates of the Arctic
Contact:

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by theanimal » Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:06 pm

I've found if you show up on time and get the job done you will be seen as a superstar, even if you aren't working that hard. The bar is low.


@J+G + @horsewoman

Negative connotations aside, I do find truth in it. For myself and some others on here, a lack of work leads to an aimlessness/lazy lifestyle that feels empty. Work provides an easy form of structure and a sense of purpose or accomplishment. Chop wood, carry water. Repeat, repeat, repeat..

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11420
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by jacob » Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:29 pm

theanimal wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 2:06 pm
I've found if you show up on time and get the job done you will be seen as a superstar, even if you aren't working that hard. The bar is low.
I think MMM had a post on tradesman work with a similar message. Just show up as agreed and do the work to crush the rest of the field [of competitors]. It's field-dependent though. In "up or out" careers being on time and doing the prescribed work is just the entry-fee though. Work-ethic is taken for granted. What determines success is now a combination of right time/right place and office politics. Very path-dependent. Not very robust.

ZAFCorrection
Posts: 201
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:49 pm

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by ZAFCorrection » Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:07 pm

@Jacob

I've noticed something like this theme in people who have been laid off in the tech/engineering space. The subtext of a lot of a complaints is that they were annoyed that years of time-serving wasn't enough to keep them from getting laid off in a purge. It seems up-or-out is a bigger factor than age discrimination.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11420
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by jacob » Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:40 pm

@ZAFC ... Indeed, it all depends on how mature a given field is. Also see, http://earlyretirementextreme.com/the-gamesme.html Ideally, one should pick a vocation where the stage is compatible/aligned with one's type. Most EREs are craftsman-types although we have a few gamesman-types too. Other types infest other boards :lol:

George the original one
Posts: 4810
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by George the original one » Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:27 pm

"Up or out" always struck me as a stupid management theme because it totally embodies the Peter Principle, rising to your level of incompetence.

ZAFCorrection
Posts: 201
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:49 pm

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by ZAFCorrection » Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:23 pm

In a certain sense I think it would be a reasonable response to the Peter principle assuming everyone who is in the same position for awhile is likely bad at it. It seems to go back to the paramount issue of determining quality work from slackery.

In any case, up-or-out seems beneficial from an ERE perspective because it should widen the path for new entrants to get in, earn the FI money, and peace out. If you want to knock out w-2's for 40 years, it makes more sense to worry about it.

User avatar
Lemur
Posts: 357
Joined: Sun Jun 12, 2016 1:40 am

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Lemur » Fri Nov 08, 2019 9:53 am

George the original one wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 8:27 pm
"Up or out" always struck me as a stupid management theme because it totally embodies the Peter Principle, rising to your level of incompetence.
This has always bothered me working for my current MegaCorp. They do have 'specialist career tracks' if you don't want to manage people but its odd that they say this track is 'not encouraged' lol. From what I've seen in my own boss, he chose the specialist track and ended up managing people and projects anyway...and for less compensation :/.

Scott 2
Posts: 1343
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2012 10:34 pm

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Scott 2 » Fri Nov 08, 2019 1:18 pm

I tried opting out of the "up" and specializing instead of managing. It sucked.

You end up working for people less capable than you. You either have to accept mediocrity, or manage up with only informal authority (way harder than managing down). Your peer group gets promoted away, meaning unstable relationships with a constant stream of new staff, or people that couldn't/wouldn't move up. Since everyone doing the same work as you is less qualified, you max the salary band and pay stagnates.

At some point professional growth requires influencing the work of other people. There's only so much one person can do. Even in the companies with specialized rock stars, they might have no direct reports, but they are dealing with all sorts of dotted line relationships.

George the original one
Posts: 4810
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by George the original one » Fri Nov 08, 2019 3:58 pm

ZAFCorrection wrote:
Thu Nov 07, 2019 9:23 pm
In a certain sense I think it would be a reasonable response to the Peter principle assuming everyone who is in the same position for awhile is likely bad at it. It seems to go back to the paramount issue of determining quality work from slackery.
In an up-or-out organization, you're not allowed to go backwards, so when someone already operating at an optimal level is prematurely promoted to something they're not ready for, then they're kicked out of the organization. A sane organization would recognize the mistake and find a way to make it work rather than discarding a good employee.

The USA state department is an up-or-out organization. If Trump is to be believed that they're incompetent, then up-or-out isn't doing them any favors. On the other hand, maybe it's just the political appointees that are incompetent? Hmm.

Colibri
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:26 am
Location: Northern Canada

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Colibri » Sun Nov 10, 2019 1:54 am

Loner wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 9:25 pm
Funny enough, "work ethic" does not exist in french. We could translate it by something like "hard worker", but there is really no expression in use that conveys the whole meaning. I guess that tells something about work in America/the anglosphere (or about work in the francosphere?).
Éthique professionnelle would do it. But it is not used very often. People don't really talk about that, it is kind of something to be expected and not something to be impressed by.

Loner
Posts: 84
Joined: Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:26 pm

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Loner » Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:44 am

@Colibri Yes, absolutely, you are correct. Actually, I searched on translation websites (linguee, etc.) to see how the term is translated, and I was surprised to see "éthique professionnelle" since I never, ever heard that expression in a conversation, nor have I seen it in print (I’m a french-speaker from Québec).

Now it’s not because we don’t have the word that a similar concept doesn’t exist, obviously, but my comment was to the effect that I really think there’s something about work in the US. As I said, we might qualify someone as a "hard worker", or say he is "professional", and recognize that he puts in the hours, etc., but we do not really have an expression for something as all-encompassing as a work ethic.

A friend of mine worked for one of the big four accounting firm. At some point she became a manager. This meant that she needed to go to Disneyland for a few days as part of (what looked like) some sort of endoctrination program. The whole thing was apparently absurd. They had conferences about the greatness of EY. The group spent all day together, from dawn till dusk, and they were asked to sing "EY is great! EY is great!" while riding rollercoasters. They had to display amazing cheerfulness for all of their 16 waking hours. She couldn’t believe the level of propaganda. And every time she talks about meeting with colleagues from the US, she talks about how they seem devoured by their work identity. And that’s coming from a person who worked 80hrs/wk for an international Megacorp, i.e., a job that’s pretty much as demanding as they make it.

This being said, we’re unfortunately not far behind.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11420
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by jacob » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:08 am

The Anglosphere is a latent variable. The difference is from the protestant factor. It's interesting that the frugality that was also associated with the Protestant or Calvinist work ethic has been dropped.

In Danish (protestant) it's "arbejdsmoral" (work moral) and it's in common usage, at least when commenting on other people supposedly lacking it.

7Wannabe5
Posts: 5245
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:26 am

I wonder why I kept the frugality but dropped the work ethic? I think might be because the Yankee/Protestant/Founders-of-Town-Walking-Distance-from-Thoreau's-pond line of my heritage was through my father who was an NP He would offer minor lectures on topics such as the value of capital over "flash and cash" spending, but then also remark on how much he liked being able to take a nap in the afternoon at his cush upper-level federal employee job. :lol:

Colibri
Posts: 45
Joined: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:26 am
Location: Northern Canada

Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Colibri » Sun Nov 10, 2019 4:16 pm

Loner wrote:
Sun Nov 10, 2019 9:44 am
@Colibri Yes, absolutely, you are correct. Actually, I searched on translation websites (linguee, etc.) to see how the term is translated, and I was surprised to see "éthique professionnelle" since I never, ever heard that expression in a conversation, nor have I seen it in print (I’m a french-speaker from Québec).

Now it’s not because we don’t have the word that a similar concept doesn’t exist, obviously, but my comment was to the effect that I really think there’s something about work in the US. As I said, we might qualify someone as a "hard worker", or say he is "professional", and recognize that he puts in the hours, etc., but we do not really have an expression for something as all-encompassing as a work ethic.
Yeah, I think we would just say that someone is lazy (lack of work ethic) or motivated ( denotes good work ethic). Maybe French people (from France) would have other wordings. (I am also french-speaking from QC) Different cultures have their own definitions of work ethic/hard worker.
I just finished reading "The nordic theory of everything : in search of a better life" by Anu Partanen. She is an expat finnish now living in the USA. She is comparing the two ways of life and relationship to work in both countries, amongst other topics. Very interesting for non-US to have better ideas of how they see work.
Highly recommend the book.

Post Reply