Apr 242016 3 Responses

Work Your T.A.I.L. Off

One of the great privileges of my life is to work beside some of the best people in the world. I recognize my work life is radically different than many others. Every person I work with is compassionate, of strong character, and desires what is best for me and our organization.

I know that isn’t the case in many workplaces. Laziness, petty in-fighting, sabotage, and apathy are common for the average worker. While they are the exception in my world, they are the rule for many organizations.

While I have a different work atmosphere than many, it is easy to forget that the non-profit world deals with the normal struggles of any other workplace.

Team player. Few things make a work place more unbearable than someone who is incapable of working well with others. In a healthy work place, each employee (and employer) has a team approach. They root for one another, help one another, and do everything in their power to assure the success of one another. It influences how they communicate, how they look at company policy, how much effort they give, and how they deal with credit/blame. (See: What Your Boss Wants–More Pac-Man, Less Pong)

In an unhealthy work place, each employee looks out for himself. Every element is viewed through a selfish lens. Consider an expense report. A team player understands a properly handled expense report makes for less work for co-workers. Accountants and financial secretaries have all the information they need to do their job. The employee doesn’t fill it out because they love expense reports. They do so to help their co-workers. Selfish employees, however, see the expense report as an unnecessary encumbrance on themselves. They don’t take it seriously and never see how their actions hurt their co-workers.

Ability. Employees are paid to do a job. They are expected to leverage their abilities and skill set in order to get an outcome. While it’s an employer’s job to provide all the resources needed for an employee to do a job, it is the employee’s responsibilities to have skills and abilities. There was a time when a company was charged with fully training employees, but those days are mostly gone. Now, it is the employee’s job to develop their own abilities.

Never has there been a day in which skills could be so easily developed. Major universities have given free access to the best classes. Books, podcasts, and videos make nearly every field open to any person who desires to learn. It’s not enough to learn a few skills in order to get a job; an employee must continue to learn and develop new skills every day if they desire to keep that job.

Initiative. One of the most common misconceptions of bad employees is they assume their boss is supposed to give them work to do. While an employer must decide who does what, a good employee takes initiative. They aren’t waiting for assignments. They aren’t passively hoping nothing comes their way. They understand it is their job to find work, do work, and then find more work. (See: Do the Work)

Showing initiative is often the difference between trust and distrust among an employee and employer. When a boss knows an employee will take initiative, the boss can relax because they know work will get done. One of the most stressful aspects of overseeing other people is wondering whether or not they will actually do anything. Initiative removes the question. When a lack of initiative is present, it accentuates the question. If a boss doesn’t trust an employee, chances are the employee doesn’t show proper initiative.

Low maintenance. Good employees make the lives of their co-workers and boss easier. They do their work. Help others. Solve problems. Communicate clearly. They aren’t unpredictable in how they act. They don’t take things personally. Bad employees cause more problems than the solve. They create emotional turmoil, cause people to walk on egg-shells, and have an uncanny ability to work a lot while producing very little.

A low maintenance employee or co-worker is patient, kind, stable, mature, not easily ruffled, and generally the same no matter the situation. They have a true sense of self which allows them to do good work without feeling threatened by others. (See: Three Things Every Employee Should Do)

These aren’t the only four qualities which define a good employee, but they are the most important four. What I want to do for those that pay my salary is to work my T.A.I.L. off. I want to leverage a team approach with the abilities I am developing using a strong initiative while being low maintenance to those around me. Whenever I do this, I’m worth every dollar I’m paid. When others do this, they are invaluable to an organization and employer. If someone fails in any of these areas, they must improve or move on.

3 Responses to Work Your T.A.I.L. Off
  1. Lori Reply

    Like this article. (Edit: “When others do this…” should be “When others don’t do this?”)

  2. […] When I was in graduate school, I worked at a church. I couldn’t have asked for a better experi... kevinathompson.com/work-mistake-still-regret

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