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

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

Post by TopHatFox »

What's a good work ethic:

Is it showing up early and leaving late and doing as much work as possible in the middle? Is it looking good and pretending to do a lot of work? Is it doing the right work for the right people? Is it being able to handle stress when SHTF with a smile over long periods of time?

And how do you sustain a good work ethic:

Is it picking the right type of work for you? Is practicing self-care w/e like meditation, yoga, massages, and so on? Is it talking to friends, family, and counselors about whatever happening at work? Is it vacating via trips every now and again? Is it always been on top of work so it's never overwhelming? Or maybe reducing friction like commutes or cooking to clear energy for work?
Last edited by TopHatFox on Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

bigato
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Re: What is a "good" work ethic?

Post by bigato »

What would you, as a for profit business owner, expect from an employee? That's a good start to answer your question.

Scott 2
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Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Scott 2 »

It's specific to the culture of the organization and you as an individual. There's not a one size fits all answer. Part of why how you fit with an employer is so important.

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

Post by unemployable »

It's a maximin. The highest possible income for the least possible effort.

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

Post by jacob »

Work ethics is an internal motivation to get the job done well. It's obvious how this would be valuable to employers.

How to sustain one is a different matter. People are different here. For example, I can only sustain one insofar I still believe in whatever I'm working on. IOW, my work ethic must be aligned with my other ethics. I work harder than most if my mission is aligned with my vision. Others, like e.g. DW or my father, will do a good job regardless of alignment because they believe in the virtue of the process of working more so than the result of the work which might not matter all that much. Setting yourself aside from the result ... or prioritizing/valuing the work-process for its own sake is called being a "professional".

Thus, something to look at is whether you're motivated by the process of work or the result of work. If you're primarily motivated by the result, you either need to find results that are agreeable to you... or your boss needs to keep a continuous supply insofar they want to keep you. If you're primarily motivated by the process, you need to find work-environments that appeal to you.

Add: Actually, I'd like to differentiate further. I have no problem being a "professional" when it comes to simple manual labor. I can press bearings into chain wheels or dig holes all day long and faster/better than average too because I just can't help myself. However, I've found it impossible to sustain work I ultimately don't believe in when working as a "creative professional" (or "professional creative"). This feels like mental torture---having to be interested in things I'm not interested it. Once I've lost interest, I haven't been able to keep at it beyond 12-18 months before I had to quit to preserve my sanity.

Tyler9000
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Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by Tyler9000 »

Scott 2 wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:54 pm
It's specific to the culture of the organization and you as an individual. There's not a one size fits all answer. Part of why how you fit with an employer is so important.
So much this. After working at lots of different places, I personally believe most internal conflict about work can be traced back to fit. Finding the right fit is easier said than done, but once you do it gets way easier. And I'll also point out that fit may change over time as organizations and personal priorities evolve, so if things get stale don't be afraid to try something new.

As far as the conventional "work ethic" goes, if you're going to focus on one thing I would worry less about effort and more about keeping your commitments. Do what you say you're going to do, and the resulting earned respect will reflect well on you professionally no matter how busy you are. And the other side of that is to know how to politely say no or ask for help rather than sign up for something you can't deliver.

jacob wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 2:09 pm
However, I've found it impossible to sustain work I ultimately don't believe in when working as a "creative professional" (or "professional creative"). This feels like mental torture---having to be interested in things I'm not interested it.
Same here. True creativity requires a "spark" that can't be forced. Sometimes I can hack my brain by focusing on the challenge of optimizing a creative solution even in an uninteresting field, but eventually either you feel inspired or you feel burned out thinking so much about something you just don't like.

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

Post by Seppia »

While the concept of “good work ethnic” may slightly vary from place to place, I would say that there are a few qualities that are associated with it pretty much in any case.
among those I’d put honesty, productivity (in the sense of “doing your best to be productive) and dependability.

How to sustain it is an entirely different ball game, and it very much depends on how you’re wired.
For me, it’s 90% dependent on how motivated I am, and motivation depends mostly on the answers to these questions:
- am I aligned with the direction of the company?
If I have a disconnect with it, I usually start looking for a new job quickly.

- is my company working for me at least similarly as hard as I am working for it?
If I see that I’m not getting the support I think I need to sustain my efforts, I just lower my effort level to match the company’s.
If I feel my efforts are not tangibly rewarded (monetarily or else), I am out ASAP.

I’ve been lucky that i rarely (and usually only temporarily) had these types of issues.
I mostly swapped jobs because the new opportunity was “better”

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

Post by GandK »

My perception at 45 is that this, like "the real world," is unique to the speaker. Your employer wants the most effort he can get for his money before you start to show mental wear and tear. The sooner that wear and tear happens, the lower he will claim your work ethic is.

The problem is that people's "determination and desire to work" (Wikipedia's definition of work ethic) is dependent upon their dopamine level. See study after study... type "work ethic and dopamine" into Google for an exhaustive list. And because you're dealing with a neurotransmitter, it's not simply a matter of choosing to do work and then doing it to your best possible skill level. You need a certain level of dopamine present to succeed. People who say all you need is gumption are really saying that they have a neurochemical management strategy in place that works for them... exercise, meditation, drugs, an OCD desire to check tasks off a list, a job they find enthralling, whatever. And people will almost uniformly judge you harshly for not having an effective strategy, by the way. You certainly need a pro-dopamine plan in place for your work.

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

Post by Loner »

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?).

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

Post by OTCW »

In whatever task is in front of you, pretend you are the person that is paying for it to get done. Act accordingly. That will result in a 'good' work ethic.

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

Post by George the original one »

Good work ethic is whatever the boss decides.

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

Post by tonyedgecombe »

It seems there is a fine line between work ethic and subservience.

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

Post by horsewoman »

IMO a good work ethic is doing tasks you have agreed to do in a timely fashion and to the best of your abilities.

How to sustain it depends on how you are motivated, which in turn depends on how your brain works - so I'm inclined to agree with GandK.
GandK wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 7:57 pm
The problem is that people's "determination and desire to work" (Wikipedia's definition of work ethic) is dependent upon their dopamine level. See study after study... type "work ethic and dopamine" into Google for an exhaustive list. And because you're dealing with a neurotransmitter, it's not simply a matter of choosing to do work and then doing it to your best possible skill level. You need a certain level of dopamine present to succeed. People who say all you need is gumption are really saying that they have a neurochemical management strategy in place that works for them... exercise, meditation, drugs, an OCD desire to check tasks off a list, a job they find enthralling, whatever. And people will almost uniformly judge you harshly for not having an effective strategy, by the way. You certainly need a pro-dopamine plan in place for your work.
I'm motivated by having new and interesting things to work on and I want to be appreciated. This is very easy to see, as I have two bosses with very different management styles. I work harder and better for the one who throws her problems at me and is genuinely appreciative when I find solutions. She uses some of the time my solutions free up for her doing her own busy work.
The other one tries to offload all of her busywork on me, which I do because she is my boss and it is in my job description to do some of it. She also complains if things are not done quickly enough for her liking, and if she commends my work at all it feels somehow rehearsed or forced. I resent this a little and have not so much motivation for her tasks. I would not be surprised if my 2 bosses' opinions of how good my work ethic is differed considerably!

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

Post by Campitor »

I do my best at whatever I'm doing because I believe having a bad attitude at work or poor work ethic can easily spill into other avenues of life that affect only oneself. There are ways to make boring jobs more interesting via gamification or optimizations however if the work is uninteresting or stagnant, I will find another job that's more engaging.

2Birds1Stone
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Re: What is a "good" work ethic, and how do you sustain one?

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I always put in 20%.

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

Post by Sclass »

Sounds like something an old boss of mine used to say. He liked his team putting in long hours. Quantity was an acceptable substitute for quality. Of course he wanted both but generally he got quantity. He himself put in crazy hours. Produced a lot of garbage work and strategy.

His exact line among senior management was “Sclass has a poor work ethic.” “Tom, Dick and Harry have a good work ethic.” It was meaningless because most of his guys produced garbage - a lot of it because they spent so many hours toiling. We are talking 9am -9pm statues in front of blank monitors. Idiots.

There was even a design philosophy where the guys would make products that were really difficult to manufacture to show we had a front to back work ethic. Our stuff was better than the competition because it took longer to make the same thing. :lol:

So whenever I hear those words I think of idiots trying to get me to work mindlessly. Grade school teachers to idiot (yet hardworking) bosses. I vote for efficiency which is the child of laziness.

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

Post by tonyedgecombe »

horsewoman wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 4:41 am
I would not be surprised if my 2 bosses' opinions of how good my work ethic is differed considerably!
I'm sure they do, productivity in a creative work environment is very subjective. If I ask a builder to build a wall I can see how many bricks he lays an hour and a quick glance tells me whether it's straight. On the other hand how on earth can you measure the productivity of a programmer or a writer, certainly not by the volume of output. This is at the root of many of the problems with modern workplaces, people know it's hard to measure so they start engaging in politics instead. Mediocrity can flourish and before you know it your company feels like the set for Office Space.

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

Post by ZAFCorrection »

My idea of a good work ethic:

Officially I am working on the second chapter of my dissertation. In reality, I am dicking around on the internet at home. Later on, I am going to strongly imply to my boss that I have been burning through a ton of papers so I can have a complete understanding of the literature. Later this week I will finish reading a couple of review papers, check the data/conclusions on a couple of dozen more so I can fill in details for the lit review, and later I will probably get feedback from my committee that I gave a very thorough presentation of the topic. Also, over the weekend I am going to shoot a draft to an old labmate so I can say I got feedback before my boss looks at it. Maybe 10 hours of actual work and all the boxes are checked.

Doing creative/professional work makes it pretty easy to pretend like you are working hard, iff you wise up to the fact that no one puts in the effort to actually understand the process or even look very closely at the results. Look busy, have some "insights" which you can direct conversations toward, and submit something by each deadline.

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

Post by Jin+Guice »

Work sets you free

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

Post by horsewoman »

Jin+Guice wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 10:02 pm
Work sets you free
Uh, this is written over the gate of the nazi concentration camp in Dachau, Bavaria. This sentences gives me the Heebie-jeebies!

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