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How do you help co-workers improve their work ethic?

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Question: “How do you open the door to a conversation on work ethic with a co-worker? How do you help co-workers improve their work ethic?  Is there training?” —An administrative secretary

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lycurgus May 15, 2012 at 6:50 pm

I am an administrator and have had the problem of my co workers having poor work ethic and I have figured out that there are two main parts to helping others improve their work ethic and bring about higher quality results. The first part is getting to know your co workers and providing positive reinforcement. Let them know that they are doing well when they accomplish a task or let them know that they can do better if they fail a task and that if they need help you will be there to give them advice if you can. By giving them positive reinforcement you have enabled them to be confident in their work at the same time you have given this person praise for their work which helps empower them. The second part is to invent competition within your work area. Make a way to tally up the work that has been completed by each person and make sure that the point system is accurate for the different types of work being done. At the end of each week or month find a way to congratulate the top or top three or however many you think is porportionate to the amount of people you work with. You may also want to invent a point system that incorporates more points or less points depending on the quality and speed at which the work is being completed. Of course this may take up some time but the end result i have found out is amazing. All people i have worked with enjoy very much being recognized for their great work and some others that may not think they have what it takes will be transformed into more than they thought they could ever be. Of course training and oversight are very important along with positive reinforcement and competition within the work place.

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Franklin L May 9, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I like the old technique of telling a worker how grateful someone would be if they’d just accomplish a little more. For example, if deadlines keep getting missed, I’d say to the offender something like “I have a feeling it would make Jerry so happy if he could get this stuff on time so he could dig out from under his workload.” Or even “I told Sarah you were on top of this and she was excited not to have to worry about it.“ It’s a little backhanded but effective!

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Calvin May 9, 2012 at 3:09 pm

I try to show to my co-workers that the thing that makes work satisfying—and we absolutely have to make it so, since it defines who we are and how our entire lives are structured–is a sense of accomplishment, optimism, and generosity toward other co-workers. We have to be here eight hours a day (often more) fifty-two weeks a year, so as long as we’re stuck, the pragmatic solution is to work hard, not for money or glory, but because in the end, it’s not a company we’re really working for; we’re here for each other, to try to make our days as positive and fulfilling as we can. A strong work ethic makes every single person’s day easier.

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g May 8, 2012 at 1:44 pm

I’m an Admin. And kind of have the same problem. The new girl in the office does her job, always makes sure the boss knows what she has done but when it comes to things that seem less important to her she doesn’t give them as much attention. For example our boss told her to start a program to help employees who might be dealing with a certain health issue. So she hung up some posters addressing this issue. They’ve been up for about 10 months now and she hasn’t changed them out (she got various versions addressing the same topic). She also doesn’t tell us when she changes something or moves something. She waits to tell me until there is one of something left that there is only one left. I don’t know if it’s work ethic or attitude or what. I’ve kept my mouth shut just waiting for the boss to realize some of this stuff and hopefully take care of it.

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Lisa May 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm

This is a tricky area. Unless you supervise the person, I think it might be difficult to address this with someone who is a peer.

The exception might be if you have a general conversation involving other folks, too, where you can discuss the concept of work ethic. Surprisingly, this type of conversation can actually happen “organically!” As a matter of fact, I was just talking with a co-worker about work ethic this morning. She had hired a neighborhood teenager to do some yard work (weeding) for her over the weekend, and mentioned how slowly the girl was working. She thought the girl had probably never been taught how to work hard (or quickly) at home, and thought that with some coaching, she might be able to help turn her into a better worker. So you never know how this type of conversation might come up, which might lead to a discussion of work ethic within your own workplace.

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conversation starter May 3, 2012 at 10:02 pm

Well, if you need a “conversation starter” here’s one.

I just heard on NPR about an interesting phenomenon … which helps explain why/how good people can do bad things — depending upon how the ethics of any given business situation is framed. Psychologists and economists say financial incentives don’t fully explain ethical lapses: “Human beings commit fraud because human beings like each other. We like to help each other, especially people we identify with. And when we are helping people, we really don’t see what we are doing as unethical.”

The broadcast (repeated in NPR article at the link) talks about emissions testers who let people pass if they’re in cheap cars, but not if they’re in a fancy BMW… essentially, the nicest of emissions testers lie! “Somewhere between 20 percent and 50 percent of cars that should fail are passed” simply to help out nice car owners…strangers even, who they just want to give a break too…. really interesting, esp. for those of us who think we have “good” ethics, I admit, I’d accept a “pass” of an emissions test when I should take a fail, even though I’m a tree hugger! … Here’s the link ….http://www.npr.org/2012/05/01/151764534/psychology-of-fraud-why-good-people-do-bad-things

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Joan Leeson May 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm

A well thought out training program and site can be found at Office Dynamics. Joan Burge and her crew have been inspiring Admins across the country with her books, videos and yearly training sessions at their home-base in Las Vegas. With the motto,
“Inspiring Excellence in Administrative Professionals” and with her personal 20-year background as an Executive Assistant, Joan Burge is able to inspire both newbies and long-timers to new heights of performance and personal satisfaction. I highly recommend you investigate the site: http://www.officedynamics.com

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Bonnie Low-Kramen May 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Training is indeed available. After 25 years as a celebrity personal assistant, I have designed and am teaching a class called “Be the Ultimate Assistant.” In the 14 hr weekend workshop, we most definitely deal with work ethic because it is vital to succeed as an admin. Learning a work ethic has to do with attitude adjustment. There is little room in today’s workplace for a “that’s not my job” mentality. Rather, the attitude needs to be to do whatever it takes to get the job done. The workshop will be in Dallas on May 5-6 and Ft. Lauderdale May 19-20. Upcoming cities include DC, LA, and SF. Here is a link for the full tour. http://conta.cc/FtLauderdaleUltimatePA Please contact me for more information. Thank you.

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