Login | Contact

When Good and Poor Work Ethics Collide- Addressing the Ethic’s Dilemma

Lazy-Coworker-BlogI have a memory from about ten years ago of a snowstorm that hit Maryland. The snow touched most of the state and especially the northern part of Maryland where it hit hardest. I lived in this part of the state with my family. At the end of our long, gravel driveway where snow accumulated it would take my Dad and neighbor several hours to dig us out. During this particular snow, my Dad, who leaves for work at 4:00 in the morning, was unable to drive his truck up the driveway. So what did my Dad do? He called and asked a co-worker to come pick him up and take him to work. I watched from my bedroom window in the early hours of the morning as my Dad walked through the snow, up to the main road to catch a ride. I can recall thinking, why doesn’t he just call out? But, that’s not my Dad. I have always been impressed by his work ethic, a trait he has subtly instilled in me over the course of my life.

Since the start of the workplace series, I have been reflecting on my work experience over the past ten years, beginning with when I filled out my first W-2 at the age of fifteen. I determined that one of my biggest pet peeves in every experience I have had was when a co-worker lacked a strong work ethic.

What is a strong work ethic?

Amelia Jenkins a contributor on Chron.com identifies five factors that exhibit a strong work ethic, “Integrity”, “Sense of Responsibility”, “Emphasis on Quality”, “Discipline”, and “Sense of Teamwork”. Our work ethic is about personal values and what we believe to be most important. Most of these factors are self-explanatory, but “emphasis on quality” Amelia Jenkins mentions is a worker’s ability to provide quality work rather than just delivering the bare minimum.

When a colleague demonstrates a poor work ethic such as consistently showing up late, not meeting deadlines, or slacking off on work, other employees may become annoyed, angry, and resentful. Why is this? Because our definition and values are different. When our work ethic values clash, then these feelings arise. For me, the thing that bothers me the most is when a co-worker consistently makes excuses for why they have been unable to complete their work, rather than admitting they do not know how to do it or that they were procrastinating.

So how can one co-worker address another who is exhibiting a poor work ethic?

When co-workers show a poor work ethic, I have approached them and asked what they are finding most difficult. If they say they are struggling with a problem I have dealt with before, I show him or her how to work through it; however, if it is a problem I have never had before, I find someone else who can assist them.

Ashley Miller from globalpost.com suggests, “No one wants to come across as a goody two-shoes, but there’s usually no harm in addressing your concerns directly with your co-worker in a polite, professional manner. “ A fellow employee may be more willing to change their behavior and less likely to hold a grudge if you, for example, say, “Hey Nancy, I noticed you have been getting to work late recently, I wanted to check in with you to make sure everything is okay?” When you acknowledge the poor behavior in a non-confrontational way, your co-worker will be aware that s/he’s conduct is being noted and may be more likely to get to work on time. If something is occurring to prevent the employee from getting to work on time, then the issue can be brought up and addressed. However, it is imperative that the discussion be done in private that way your co-worker is more likely to be receptive.

Frances Burks from Chron.com advises, “Find out if your coworker understands how to complete his assigned tasks when you discuss work-ethic problems with him.” If a co-worker is struggling to meet deadlines, it may be wrong to assume that s/he are lazy or do not care. Instead, verify that they understand what is being asked of them. If the problem is they do not have the skill level to complete their assigned tasks, suggest they talk with a manager to obtain the necessary training needed. Do not take on the tasks yourself, by doing that you, as the employee will only grow more resentful.

Finally, Ashley Miller recommends, “Talking to your supervisor in a [concerned and kind] manner provides him with the opportunity to address your concerns and shows that you are dedicated to the success of your workplace.” A discussion with your supervisor should be a last resort after you have spoken with your co-worker regarding her/his behavior and nothing has changed. If the issue requires you to approach your boss, you might start the conversation with ‘I have a concern I need to address with you regarding my co-worker’.

For me, when I feel riled about my work ethic clashing with someone’s lack of work ethic, I now make a point of speaking with my co-workers rather than jumping to conclusions about what is causing their work ethic to lack. I have found that by talking with my coworkers directly in a calm and collected fashion, that most issues get resolved. Now anytime I receive praise for my strong work ethic, I always think of my Dad and how he showed me what it means to be a hard worker.

Abigail Clark,

M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Intern

Leave a Reply


Parenting Discipline for Toddlers to Teens: How to Avoid the ‘Countdown to Meltdown’


Barbara GrochalStephenKotev2Parenting discipline decisions are sometimes among the toughest but also some of the most critical that parents make.  Focusing on respect, empathy, communication, and collaborative problem-solving helps parents  model  effective conflict resolution skills for their children.  Listen in to learn how to use these skills to build stronger lifelong relationships with your children.

Play

Read, Listen, Share »

Leave a Reply




  • Podcast Library

  • Subscribe by Email

    Join our mailing list to receive our newsletter and blogs!

  • Recent Posts