What Makes for a Good Work Ethic?

WorkEthic3

I’ve several times made the claim that I have an old-fashioned work ethic. Lately, I’ve begun to question what that actually means. I’ve met other people who don’t seem to have a good work ethic, but when asked, they say they do. Hmmm. Is “work ethic” totally subjective? That doesn’t seem likely. So, what does make for a good work ethic?

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Further below, are ideas gathered from various sources and friends, but here’s one thing I’ve noticed over and over. If somebody comes in with a sour attitude, no matter how good they are at what they do, the attitude tarnishes everything. On the other hand, if somebody comes in with enthusiasm and a smile, and again, it may not matter how good they are at the job, they seem to have a good work ethic. So, I don’t want to go so far as to say that enthusiasm and a smile are a measurement, but maybe they are a strong hint!

I’m going to choose to be enthusiastic and smile.

Two other especially strong thoughts for me:
1. Always go beyond the minimum requirement
2. Taken from The Outward Mindset, when there’s a problem, take the attitude of “As far as I am concerned, the problem is me.” At first that one is scary. Then it becomes liberating!

Talking with some retail managers, it’s fun to hear some of the challenges.
1. Get people to just show up!
2. On time
3. Dressed right

More thoughts, “borrowed” from many others:

From QBQ newsletter:
1. HUMBLE: Self-deprecating humor, takes no credit for wins, downplays their strengths. Acknowledges it’s a “team effort.”
2. ACCOUNTABLE: Quick to own mistakes and failures with little to no blame and finger-pointing. And definitely not a whiner! (See the QBQ! book)
3. COLLABORATIVE: Don’t have all the answers, know they can’t do it alone, and open to ideas they did not generate. Shares AND listens.
4. DECISIVE: No “paralysis by analysis” here. Flexible, but not wishy-washy. Possesses opinions that are thought through.
5. ENCOURAGING: Praises people, provides positive feedback, and slow to criticize. Lifts others up with their words.

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  • Showing up to work, on time (preferably before your appointed office hours), appropriately dressed, and ready to take on the day.
  • Being present at work – different than being “on time” being present is the sense that you are doing what you can do for the company first, and for yourself second. You are thinking constantly about how to make the company better – in turn, you will be better at your job.
  • When you are at work, you are giving it your all, 110%, thinking of your colleagues and about advancing the company. Your company and colleagues are part of your extended family and you will do whatever is legal, moral and ethical to advance their careers and the cause of the company.
  • You don’t whine or gripe about tasks that have been assigned to you or ones that you have been volunteered for. You do the work with a sunny, optimistic attitude.
  • You defer to your manager’s decisions, even if in your opinion they are wrong.
  • You understand that you are an employee of the company, 24/7 – you are never really “off” the clock.
  • You are always selling your company’s product or service and you are always looking for a chance to advance your company’s product or service even if it is at a dinner party, a wedding, gas station, etc.

What other thoughts would you add for a good work ethic? Or is smile and be enthusiastic enough? And yes, I’m smiling as I ask that question!

 

What Are Your Abilities?

Abilities

Abilities

What a simple question. What a great question, especially if you’re a job seeker. I was recently asked the question and I was caught off guard. I didn’t have an answer! How can that be?

Do You have a fast answer?

 

Last updated: 4/25/2016

You can find all my Job-Search related articles here. Please remember, a job search is normally an ordered set of steps. If you try to skip steps, it usually doesn’t work out well.

FORTRAN

FORTRAN

80 Column CardThis will really show my age. And my history!

It’s been a long time since I remember reading a book or article by Edsger Dijkstra, and unfortunately I can’t remember the reference and I can’t find the exact quote. But this is close.

In hiring, I ask the prospect if he knows FORTRAN? If he says ‘yes’ then I don’t hire him!
— Edsger Dijkstra

(Perhaps the reference was to BASIC, or COBOL, instead of FORTRAN, but same idea)

Sadly, despite my own history, I have to think Dijkstra was right. But, fortunately, he has another quote that I was able to find that makes me feel a little better.

Perfecting oneself is as much unlearning as it is learning.”
— Edsger Dijkstra

Checklists and Scorecards

The Power and Simplicity of Checklists

ChecklistAre you a list person? Simple checklists, and maybe scorecards, can do wonders for an organization. A checklist might even save your life! This is a slightly long article, but you’ll get the idea in the first few paragraphs. Do More of What Already Works.

“Three months after it began, the procedure had cut the infection rate of I.C.U. patients by sixty-six percent. Within 18 months, this one method had saved 75 million dollars in healthcare expenses. Best of all, this single intervention saved the lives of more than 1,500 people in just a year and a half. The strategy was immediately published in a blockbuster paper for the New England Journal of Medicine.”

Millions of dollars! 1,500 lives! Wow! But for the same reason a checklist works, it can also fail. The key is to have somebody else check your checklist. Maintaining a scorecard, that someone else views, can make this work. Simple accountability. Really, it can be that simple. A shared Google spreadsheet can be a key accountability document between two people. It’s worth a try.

As a related item, I was recently with a friend at a wound care clinic. I noticed an item on their bulletin board that surprised me a little. So similar to the article above, the simple idea of hand washing:
Hand Hygene
Two things shock me here. First, the goal is only 90%. Really, if doctors wash their hands 90% of the time before treating a patient, then that’s success. Hmmm, sure hope if I’m ever there I’m in that 90%. But what about the other 10%? This seems like a no-brainer to achieve 90%. but wait, they are falling short of the goal. Oh my!

Maybe they need some assistance with accountability. Hmmm, who do I know who does accountability coaching?

 

Harold A. Dye, 1917-2015

At the beginning of November, my dad, Harold A. Dye, celebrated his 98th birthday. Early this morning, he slipped into eternity. Below is a summary biography, which doesn’t even include the time he was president of the United States (it’s a fun and credible story — ask me about it some time).

HaroldDyeBirthday

Several of the care-givers at the assisted living facility where he’s lived the last fifteen years made heart-warming statements along the lines of “It’s been an honor to know your dad.” Thank you for your legacy, dad.

 

(updated 12/10/2015)
12/12/2015 update: Memorial Service will be JANUARY 16, 2pm, at King’s Bridge Retirement Center

BRIGADIER GENERAL HAROLD A. DYE

Harold Dye was born in Dothan Alabama in 1917.  He moved to Atlanta, GA when he was three months old. He attended Boys High School and later Georgia Tech, graduating as a Ceramic Engineer.  He died December 9, 2015. He was 98 years old.

Most of his life was spent serving his country. He served as an Artillery Battery Commander in the in Europe during World War II. During the Korean War he served as an Advanced Artillery instructor in the Artillery School at Fort Sill, Oklahoma before being assigned as a Lt. Col. to the United Nations Military Armistice Commission, in Korea. This was followed by a three year tour as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Iowa State College in Ames, Iowa.  He then served with the Department of Army and Secretary of Defense Staffs during the Vietnam War.

He served a three year tour on the Army General Staff in the Pentagon as the Strategic Army Corp Liaison Officer before becoming a Battalion Commander in Aschaffenburg, Germany.  He was Commander of an Artillery Group of five Battalions of Tube and Missile Artillery.  As a Colonel, Dye stated that he had more kilotons of fire-power under his command than the total of all fire-power used by the Allies in World War II. That fire-power was never used but the deployment of the Persian Missile to his Artillery Group in Bavaria brought an end to the “Cold” war.

He was awarded numerous medals including the Legion of Merit but states that his most cherished award was being named by the Chief of Chaplains as “Layman of the Year” for the U.S. Army in Europe.  Even with a very heavy command load as an artillery Group Commander of over 3500 men he still managed to teach Sunday School in the Army Chapels in Aschaffenburg, Kitzengen, and Bamberg, Germany–just as he had done in Korea during and after the Korean war.

General Dye retired from the army in 1967 after 32 years of service.  After two weeks of retirement he was appointed Deputy Commissioner of Industry and Trade for the State of Georgia by Governor Lester Maddox.

As Deputy Commissioner he helped with the great expansion of Georgia Business and Industry. He was instrumental in bring the sluggish per capita income of Georgia to the average per capita income of the United States. He helped change the state from predominantly agricultural to manufacturing and related businesses. He said, “Instead of one man farming 100 acres, 100 men could now be employed in a factory covering only one acre. And, each of the 100 people would have a greater income than the farmer.”

General Dye was instrumental in the development of the World Congress Center which put Atlanta and Georgia on the World map.

General Dye resigned from Industry and Trade in 1973 to run for Mayor of Atlanta, and a year later for Governor of Georgia.  He didn’t win either election, but made a strong showing against some other well-known candidates.

General Dye was instrumental in re-forming the Gate City Guard in 1946 and was its first Commander after WW II. The Gate City Guard was first established in Georgia in 1856 with the express purpose of Defending Georgia against a possible invasion from outside the State or uprising within the State. He joined the Old Guard of the Gate City Guard in 1948 and was its Commander in 1952. He was the senior member.  The Old Guard was established in 1868 by War Between the States veterans who had served in the Gate City Guard, but were too old to bear arms.

He was an Elder at Highlands Presbyterian church where he taught Sunday School since he was 19 years old.

Harold was pre-deceased by his wife of 70 years, Emma Jean Townley Dye.  They were the proud parents of four children, grandparents of eleven, great grandparents of sixteen (and counting) and great, great grandparents of two.  He often said, “Most of the time, the parents have to be around to help me know who’s who“.

 

Six Second Hugs

As mentioned in The Happiness Project, and elsewhere, the idea that hugs of more than six seconds cause a chemical release that creates some bonding. I happened to have co-read this book with a female, (who by the way is married, and I know her husband, and they live a long way away, just so there’s no confusion), and we each commented on that six-second concept.

Later, unexpectedly, she asked me if she and I had ever hugged for 6 seconds (we had some business/social occasions through the years). I was pretty certain that answer was ‘no.’

A while back, I got a package in the mail. Would you agree this represents “more than six seconds” of hugs?
Hersheys Hugs

Thanks Lisa!

Important vs. Urgent

How do you determine what’s important?

ImportantSo much has been written about how we need to be sure we select what’s important over what’s urgent. What seems to be missing is a way to determine what’s important. Urgent tends to shout at us, while important can be much quieter. That doesn’t seem like a good criteria though.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.
-Dwight Eisenhower

Related article, How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time Wasting Activities by Using the “Eisenhower Box”

Some of us get caught up in the evaluations: important, urgent, efficient, effective. This silly diagram, that I hate, because it so identifies me, summarizes the time was well! Thanks (a little) to my friend Keith Lowe for sending this to me.
Time Cost of Indecision

 

 

 

 

 

Two major thoughts on choosing what’s important:

  1. My loose paraphrase of a Roy Disney quote: “Decisions are easy when your values are clear.” My belief, which is yet to be proven, is that when you are extremely clear on values, all else will become easier. With a clear Moral Compass, and absolute adherence to it, all else will fall into place
  2. Rory Vaden’s book, Procrastinate on Purpose, adds the concept of time and Significance to how we determine what’s important. A highly recommended read.

Choosing what’s important, over the urgent, is still a challenge for me. I’m still looking for the book on “the easy way to know what’s important.” Anybody ready to write it? A short book would be preferred!

 

What Makes Training “Good?”

GoodTraining

What is good training? That’s almost a trick question. Which of these are true?

  1. Good training is when somebody actually learns something
  2. Good training is when somebody learns something new
  3. Good training means learning how to do something faster
  4. Good training is when the student can pass a test or certification
  5. Good training provides the student with experience

Those are all probably “true” statements, but are they right? How about this instead:

“Good training is something that makes an employee more productive to the organization”

We might even need to add in that the new productivity has a higher value than the cost of the training. If a training program costs $10,000 and the net result is that one employee saves 5 minutes a day on one task, was that a gain?

Miscellaneous thoughts on training:

  • Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
    –Benjamin Franklin
  • Typical training: If you push this button, X will happen. Better training: if you’re trying to accomplish X, here’s what you need to do
  • The best training is self training (at least for most people)
  • Two typical attitudes about training:
    1. I don’t know how to do that, I need training
    -vs.-
    2. I bet there’s a way to do that, let me figure it out
    When a person transitions from #1 to #2, think of the possibilities! (HT to Jim LaBarr)
  • Lengthy (all day, all week) training appears to have great results, but they usually don’t last. Short, even repetitive, topic-focused training has much longer results. Consider TED talks and their 18 minute rule
  • A lot of short, single-topic, “do it yourself” training bits may work better than typical classroom
  • Classroom is still good for the dialog, and to force training to happen for those who wouldn’t otherwise have the discipline
  • Lunch-n-Learn is almost always a good thing. Most people like food
  • Good training is specific to the organization’s culture. And processes. It may focus on those processes!
  • Spend more time on the every day stuff than the once-a-year stuff. [but define the once-a-year stuff in an easy to reference KB]
  • If doing classroom training set the expectation that each person will be called on. After the question is asked, not before!
  • Good training focuses more on why than on how

Where does training end and support start? Or vice versa? Or are they deeply intertwined? What would happen if design, development, implementation, configuration, training, and support where all tightly connected with each other. Would the end-users have a better experience?

Better training reduces friction. Or …

Better training helps things go right which in turn creates better user experiences.”

Is that the same as improved productivity? Probably