Work Ethic

You do the job that’s in front of you. This phrase has been at the forefront of my mind for the last several weeks, ever since I was promoted to Lab Support Administrator. There is a tremendous amount to do, and it’s a bit overwhelming sometimes,* but I’ve been making a list and just working my way down it. Start a task, finish a task.

It’s no secret that there has been tension at work about me being promoted—it’s no surprise, since the other three candidates were my co-workers, and now they report to me.** I’ll say that the talk behind my back has been less than pleasant and that my ego took a beating earlier this week, and I’ll leave it at that. It sucks, and I wish I felt more supported.

But you do the job that’s in front of you. What’s more, you do it well. You do work well enough that you can take pride in it. Because if you’re not doing work you can be proud of, you’re less than fully human.

It is cowardice to remain in a job where you can’t be proud of your work. I’m not talking of the self-serving pride that is sinful, and that diverts our worship from God to ourselves. I just mean doing good work that benefits others. When I was scrubbing dishes at the hospital, I found a way to be proud of my work, to do it the best I could, and to always be respectful to and supportive of my boss. Subsequently, I did my job well and management liked me. And now I am management (though obviously in a completely different context), and I’m determined to do the same; I will work hard, do my job well, and feel good about it.

Here, doing my job well means taking care of my people; making sure they have the resources they need; making sure they know how important their work is, and how important they are. It means accomplishing tasks with little to no intervention from my superiors, quickly and efficiently and to the highest standards of quality. And as I continually strive for that, I achieve it.

Do the job that’s in front of you, and be proud of the work you do. If you’re not, start doing work you’re proud of. Without these two components, you’ve got no sort of work ethic. You’re just a coward dragging down your team.

Despite everything else, I can hold onto the quality of my work. I know I do well, and I’ll stand on that. Let people say what they will; I’ll do the job that’s in front of me.

* A bit of a postscript on the overwhelmingness: it’s not as bad as when I was moved to the Labs side in July 2009. At that time, I went from having 5 student workers to having 20+, there was no training plan for them, no orientation, no manuals, the only list of rules/guidelines was 10+ years out of date, and for the most part none of the employees were held to rigorous standards. I had to build everything from scratch in regards to training and discipline for student workers, and it took around six months before we really had any sort of framework for them as employees. Moving to Administrator, that framework is pretty much already there by way of University guidelines for full-time staff members, and I only have 4 employees (5 in January). I’m far less overwhelmed, and in many ways the job is much easier.

I keep being told, “Managing full-timers isn’t like managing student workers!” but that’s just not entirely true. Both are people, both have motivators and ambitions, and both are here to do a job. Full-timers are in some ways easier because they’re older, more responsible, and more committed. But you treat them both well, you hold them both to standards, and you expect good things out of both groups. As you expect good things, people rise to the occasion. So don’t get me wrong, I’m busy, but so far this transition has been much easier than the transition to managing all the student workers.

** Actually, only one reports to me, but I’m still quasi-supervisor of the other two; I share that duty with the other Administrator.

One thought on “Work Ethic

  1. Good thoughts. I can relate. The hardest group to work with: volunteers. Most are good but, motivation is different (can’t really fire and they aren’t getting paid). It is not a bit unusual for you to show up expecting them to show up and…. they don’t. Sometimes you get a call with an excuse, after the event or moments before. Leadership is the key. It is a committed few who carry the load. As the saying goes, “Find a busy person and that is the person to give the job if you want it done.” That too must be used cautiously in that some people say “yes” to the detriment of themselves and the group.

    Keep up the good work!

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