Since childhood, I’ve been fascinated by people’s attitudes toward their work and employers. I grew up in a blue collar household with a father who worked for a company where the management versus labor divide was huge. I remember hearing him as he proudly stated just what he was and was not going to do at work.
I clearly remember him and his coworker buddies sharing a few beers and talking about how they had outsmarted the boss and gotten out of doing their work. This went on for several years but eventually ended when the company moved the jobs to another state. At the age of fifty-five, my Dad and his friends were unemployed and in a world of emotional and financial devastation. Even then, the (former) employees seemed to bear none of the responsibility. They blamed the situation entirely on the company and its inept management.
Today, many years later, I see the same attitude at many companies. At a time when even some of the best run companies are struggling, many employees act as if they are owed a job. “If they want me to work harder, they’re going to have to pay me more,” is the mantra. A friend recently told me that some of their employees have staged a 10% work slowdown to match the 10% pay cut that was instituted company-wide a few months ago. My Dad would be proud.
You’d better perform
I recently spoke with a mid-level manager at a small manufacturing company. In the past year, her employer has cut 15 people from the payroll and has reduced pay by 10%. These were agonizing moves for the company owner. My friend told me of the tears he shed as he made this very difficult decision. Even though attitudes at this company have soured a bit, this woman has rallied her department in an impressive way. She brought the team together and outlined her strategy to help the company survive and protect the people in her department.
Here is her 5-step plan:
Work your tail off
Show up every day with an attitude to give 110%+.
Show up early and stay late
Be at your desk before the company owner arrives. There is work to be done with fewer people. Pick up the slack by working a few extra minutes each day.
Be a positive force
Never, ever, ever complain. You have nothing to gain and much to lose by being a negative influence in your workplace.
Be a team player
If you are ever “caught up” and find yourself with nothing to do, offer to assist one of your coworkers. You’ll feel much more fulfilled and word will spread of your contribution.
Be sure the company owner and other department heads see and hear of your contribution toward the company’s survival. But, don’t forget to credit the team. It’s not all about you.
The ultimate goal, of course, is for the company to survive and thrive as the economy begins to improve. Short term, however, she wants to make sure her people are seen as extremely valuable and indispensable in the event the company has to cut more jobs.
The economy still has a few months before it will stop shedding jobs. In the meantime, this is no time to play games such as work slowdowns, showing up late, leaving early or being the person who poisons the workplace with negative talk.
Right now is the time to step up, work hard, keep a positive attitude and give everything you have. Your employer will fare better and so will you.