The sheer amount of opinions flying around about how times have changed, funding is harder, jobs are fewer, millennials wanting a whole new world at the workplace, Gen X just not getting it, and more made me wonder the other day about what happened to the traditional advice of just “putting your head down and working hard”. With evolution and exposure, priorities have changed. But surely, things are not so different or complicated now that the ease and simplicity of just “getting things done” is passé?
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So I thought of bringing it back to our workplace discourse, before we forget. Because much like most things, I truly believe in the simplicity of employment or even entrepreneurship. Challenging, yes. Brave, absolutely. But this complicated? I don’t know.
Here’s some old-fashioned advice that has held several generations in good stead. It might be a good idea to give them a try again –
As they say, strategy without execution is hallucination. So much time now is spent on ensuring that we sound smart that we appear to forget that the biggest sign of work is just plain work. We can have all the discussion we need over best practices, plan of action, ROI, and such, but if it doesn’t come with a deadline, it isn’t hard to see that nothing is moving. It’s all just plans in the air and a bunch of ineffective people who sound very, very smart. Rather pointless and a colossal waste of intelligence, if you ask me.
In my experience, most accountable and committed people are those that value what they bring to the table and have a high sense of self-worth. They can see why the people who depend on them to get it right do so, and they view it not as an unnecessary expectation or obligation, but a place on the table that they have earned. Something has to be said about the quiet, dependable workers who rarely suffer flights of fancy. According to an HBR deep dive into the personality traits of reliable people, conscientiousness topped the list. Conscientious people are valuable to organisations because they are organised, thorough, disciplined, and careful – all the traits that go into the making of a good team player. But they are willing to appear disagreeable too because finishing the job at hand and doing it well tops their list of priorities at work. They feel the need to point out inefficiencies if they get in the way of getting things done – and that is admirable.
Whether it is the barrage of new work, a week of being short-staffed, or the repercussions of an unstable economy, the most valuable people learn to manage change and adapt quickly. They don’t feel the need to endlessly discuss how they are not getting the help they need, and instead prioritise and use resources wisely when there are no other options left in the immediate future. No matter what the circumstances, they truly believe that ‘the show must go on’.
Every team needs such people, and if you have them on your team, consider yourself blessed. As an organisation, leader, or manager, it becomes your responsibility to recognise and reward their hard work and help them manage their load and not exploit their willingness to go the extra mile. Because in our new workplaces with their cutting edge technologies, buzzwords, innovation, and ideas, those who believe in the power of old fashioned hard work and reliability are the ones who keep the wheels turning.