The Work Ethic and Getting Ahead

Not too long ago, I wrote about someone I used to know who complained that he wasn’t getting ahead and I gave my general suggestions why he wasn’t getting anywhere.  However, I’ve had a couple of conversations since then with people about getting ahead at work and I’m always shocked at the attitudes of the people who stagnate in their jobs so I wanted to give a few more thoughts on the subject.

There are a lot of people out there with absolutely no work ethic whatsoever.  They don’t want a job.  They don’t want a career. They want a paycheck.  They want to punch a clock and go home.  They work because they have to, not because they want to. They don’t enjoy what they do.  They spend all of their time watching the clock, screwing around and doing as little as possible so they can get a check, but not work too hard to get it.  These people are pathetic.  But I find a lot of people who are unwilling to sacrifice their personal comfort and enjoyment for their careers and that’s really why these people are getting nowhere.

Just a case in point, someone I am acquainted with ended up having to work longer than they expected last week because someone called in sick at their work.  It was maybe an extra 2 hours.  They certainly got paid for it, including overtime. They whined about it.  Give me a break.  I remember a very long time ago, probably close to 30 years ago now, when I was working as an assistant manager for a fast food restaurant, there was a national manager’s conference so all the store managers, district managers and regional managers were gone and the assistants were in charge of the restaurants.  My other assistant apparently decided he no longer wanted a job so he never called and just never showed up again.  I ended up working for more than 75 hours straight (24 hour restaurant) because there was no other way to cover it and, of course, no other local stores had anyone to send.  Sure, I slept in the back room a couple of times and I had some decent people I could trust, but I was on site from 6am Friday morning until 9am Monday when someone could come in and relieve me.  And I didn’t complain about it.  Sure, I wasn’t happy, but it was necessary and I did what was necessary because I actually cared about the  company and took responsibility for my store.  And yes, I got a hell of a bonus for doing it but that’s beside the point, I didn’t expect anything extraordinary for doing my job.  Getting anywhere requires going above and beyond the call of duty and I am willing to do that.  Kids these days apparently are not.

But I guess this is nothing new.  I once knew someone many years ago who worked for Pitney Bowes, it was his job to drive around and change out postal meters for companies.  He’d go out first thing in the morning with a list of companies he was supposed to service, with the expectation that when he was done, he’d go back and get more.  Instead, he finished up his first round and went to the local game store and hung out for the rest of the day.  Eventually, they fired him because he wasn’t doing the job they had hired him to do and I don’t think he ever realized why.  It’s just sad.

People need to realize that they aren’t doing a favor to companies who give them jobs, they have to earn their pay and they have to go beyond the basics to get ahead.  If all you’re there to do is punch a clock and go home, don’t expect to ever better yourself. Being successful requires hard work and long hours.  It requires sacrifice.  It requires putting your company’s needs before your own and being willing to do whatever it takes to make your company successful, even if you don’t get directly rewarded for it at the time.  When the time comes to promote people, it’s the ones who have proven their worth who will be chosen, the ones who just sit around staring at the clock, waiting to go home, they’ll never get anywhere in life.

Nor should they.

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