I have a friend at work, let’s call her Heather, who, like me, works hard but struggles with mental health issues. She’s quite a bit younger than me and sometimes I see her as a younger version of myself. One thing she does that I used to do, and that I try hard not to do anymore, is compare herself to other coworkers… especailly slacker coworkers. Yeah, I know, we all do it to a certain extent but it can go way too far.
The problem? Heather gets very upset with the slackers at work… actually at times I’ve seen her get quite livid. I understand this and used to do the same thing… and admittedly still do on occasion. It feels completely unfair to work hard and do a good job when there are people around you who are slacking off. The unfairness of it can be understandably upsetting.
Personal work ethic matters – When it comes to someone’s personal work ethic, in the most general sense, there seems to be two kinds of people.
- Some people take pride in doing a job well done. They strive to be the best they can be because they are personally motivated to do so. It makes them feel good about themselves. Doing a poor job just wouldn’t do.
- People like this tend to hail from families who instilled these values into them. My own parents always worked hard and by their actions always made it clear that if you were going to do something then you should give it your best effort. Doing a half-assed job didn’t even cross their mind as an option. I also know for certain that these traits were handed down to them from my grandparents.
- Then there are people who seem to do the bare minimum. Without a manager looking over their shoulder they would most likely do absolutely nothing. They feel no responsibility to their company, customers and, worst of all, their fellow coworkers who usually end up having to work harder to make up for their shortfalls.
So which one are you? I know I fall into the personally motivated category and so does my friend Heather.
Pay makes a big difference. Equality in the work place is a great thing, however, there have been some detrimental side effects. Many companies now have an equal pay structure. This means that everyone who works the same job at the same level will make the same rate of pay. This seems like a great idea until you get to the part where job performance then has zero impact. I used to pride myself in getting performance raises in every job I’ve ever held. Not so these days and this can be frustrating for anyone who strives to do their best at work.
As a friend of mine once said: “People who work hard are treated the same and paid the same as people who do the bare minimum so what’s the motivation to work any harder?”
For Heather, the unfairness of this often affects her mood and how she interacts with other coworkers in drastic ways. She can come across as rude, unfriendly and sometimes downright mean. I can’t fault her because I used to be the exact same way. What I didn’t realize is how much of a negative effect this had on my own outward behavior.
It usually has no impact on the slackers because they just don’t care enough.
What I, and Heather, must do!
Comparing ourselves to other people on the job isn’t always a bad thing. For competitive people it can motivate us to do better. However, letting it have a negative effect on our mood and behavior is a big mistake.
Here’s what I try to do intead:
- Take pride in doing my job to the best of my ability.
- Work hard for myself and my own self-worth and no one else’s. It’s not selfishness, it’s self-esteem.
- Try to dwell on my slacker coworkers as little as possible. Instead, I focus on the non-slackers. Amazingly, the slackers are really few and far between but they can take up so much precious energy!
- Get along with everyone I possibly can, even the slackers. I don’t hold animosity. In most cases they aren’t bad people–they merely have a different work ethic. Plus, being hostile toward them usually doesn’t hurt them one bit. It’s only me who feels the hurt.
- It’s not my job to judge the performance of other people and it’s certainly not my job to shepherd the slackers. I offer my help to other coworkers if need be. If I see people doing something flat out wrong I try to talk with them about it although I’ve noticed that slackers tend to get pretty defensive and sometimes downright irate if anyone says a word to them about their job performance.
- Do not succumb to pressure to work beyond my ability. Most companies these days will try to get more work out of less people. I don’t let this pressure me. I’m not going to kill myself. I get what I can done and don’t worry about what didn’t get done. That’s the company’s responsibility, not mine.
- Most slackers eventually get weeded out in one way or another. It may seem to take longer these days because of ethics and equality laws, which unfortunately can protect both the good workers and the bad workers. These days such people will usually quit before getting fired when the animosity of their coworkers becomes too much to bare.
If you are of the personally motivated kind be proud of your own personal ethic. Be proud of who you are and what you can achieve. Have confidence in your ability. Stand up for yourself and do not let anyone walk all over you…. especially the slackers.
All the best and have a great Moody Monday, JoAnn.