Habits at Work and in Life That Can Pave Your Way to Success

What do we mean by work ethics? Or good work ethics, at that?

A good work ethic is more than logging long hours on the job. It is also about a kind of attitude and behaviour that reflect integrity.

In HR, there has been this popular hypothetical question managers often ask their associates. Here’s the question:

“If you won $10 million in the lottery, would you continue to work or would you quit?”

You might think the answer is a no-brainer. But mind you, the responses will surprise you.

According to a recent Gallup survey, two-thirds of American workers say they would continue working even if they won $10 million in the lottery.

  • 44 percent would keep their current job
  • 23 percent would seek new employment
  • 31 percent would quit working

In fact, the number of people who said they would continue working is higher than it was the last three times Gallup asked this question between 1997 and 2005.

So, what does this have to do about strong work ethics?

Given the competitive job market and rising inflation, more and more people consider working even after winning $10 million in the lottery.

You need a strong work ethics in today’s job market.

Given our present circumstance, developing a good work ethic is more important to career success than ever before.

“The job market is so competitive now that if you don’t have a good work ethic, employers don’t think twice about looking for someone who meets the bill,” says career planner Tiffany Nelson.

Nelson winces when she recalls a painful lesson she learned during college about being on time for work, but she is grateful for the opportunity the experience gave her to learn and grow.

“In the ‘real world’ outside of college, however, you don’t get second chance,” she said. “One mistake could cost you your job.”

Even if repercussions are not immediate, people notice. People know who has a strong work ethic and who doesn’t. “Your professional reputation precedes you. If your reputation is positive, people want to have you around, and that can lead to more opportunities and career advancement.”

So what can you do to help strengthen your work ethic?

Here are some ideas that you can use whether you are currently in the work world or preparing to enter the job market.

1. Maintain integrity in everything you do.

Most people define integrity as being “honest, just, and consistent in word and deed.” To develop integrity, you should:

  • Act the same when people are not watching you, as when they are.
  • Perform consistently at the same level of quality. Be conscientious.
  • Be honest in all things. A philosopher said that honesty is not a policy; it is a state of mind.
  • Take responsibility for your actions, which includes being punctual.

2. Develop positive communication skills.

The key to almost every successful relationship, professional or personal, is being nice to everyone. Communicating in a positive and constructive way is an indispensable skill. In the workplace, a constructive approach to everything can go a long way.

To help develop positive communication skills, you can:

  • Avoid negative talk and gossip.
  • Provide feedback that improves situations and builds people up.
  • Be an active listener and keep an open mind.
  • Be considerate of others and respectful of their roles in the organization.

3. Be a go-getter.

A can-do attitude is a desirable trait in the workplace. A strong work ethic, after all, involves both actions and attitude: what you do and how you do it.

To cultivate a can-do attitude:

  • Take initiative. Procrastination can lead to missed opportunities.
  • Be willing to assist in efforts outside your realm of responsibility.
  • Cultivate flexibility.
  • Take calculated risks – share new ideas.
  • Be helpful and enthusiastic.

4. Find a mentor. Look up to someone. 

One way to develop a good work ethic is to identify someone you believe personifies a good work ethic, observe their behavior, and then emulate it.

My personal hero is Elon Musk. Musk is a visionary and embodies a go-get and can-do attitude.

Elon Musk is dubbed as the “real life Iron Man” because of his achievements in tech innovation. This expert-generalist is known for his work habits and approach to learning.

You could also look to Helen Keller.

She probably was not referring to how to develop a strong work ethic when she said it, but the social activist, public speaker, and author sums it up succinctly:

“I long to accomplish some great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

Some More Work Ethics Reminders

Be trustworthy.

Trustworthiness is about proving your integrity and worth over time. It is very important to stand tall and be accounted for the tasks and assignments undertaken.

Trust is one of the major issues at work. Employers are always on the lookout for employees who exhibit this quality.

Be honest.

Honesty is the best policy. It always has been. This timeless adage still hold true in a professional environment.

The most crucial work ethic is to complete your tasks with utmost honesty and transparency; without getting into any kind of double-dealing or illegitimacy.

Be positive.

Inculcate positive habits and attitude at work that not only impress your bosses, but also leave positive impact on your colleagues and co-workers.

Remember that coming late to work, dressing inappropriately and frequently switching jobs are not considered as good ethics.

Be respectful.

As my boss once said, “Political differences do not end friendships, being an asshole does.” The main point is that trying circumstances are simply trying, how you deal with such difficult circumstances can either make or break relationships and could also reflect on you.

It is very important to maintain your grace, modesty and integrity under trying circumstances. Office politics is always present, wherever you go.

So, being respectful to your co-workers, subordinates and clients during arguments or unpleasant situations will show that you value people’s individual worth more than an unfavourable situation. This will also create and ensure good work culture and healthy relations at the job.

Dress professionally.

Offices usually have dress codes. As such, you are expected to abide by these dress codes.

What if your workplace does not have any dress policy? Well, career experts recommend that you always come into work looking neat and professional. Too tight, too lousy, too small or too large – none of them are meant for office.

Also, dress like how you would for your dream job. It’s a social signal of how you want to be treated.

Don’t use office funds or equipment for personal gains.

Using office funds and resources for personal gains is downright and plain corruption, right? To maintain your integrity, don’t do this.

This can land you in prison, too. Such acts can even result in the business failing, which could, in turn, result in your downfall, too.

Be a team player.

An organisation is not a one-man army. And every manager loves to work with great team players. Of course, teamwork is necessary for any business to grow.

How do you become a team player? One, keep your communication and work transparent. Don’t make it a habit to turn your Skype status to “Do not disturb” or “Away”. Two, ensure every team member has easy access to all necessary line of documents. And three, do what’s not only good for you, but also beneficial for the team as a whole. Take the initiative and always add value to what you do!

Be accountable.

Take personal responsibility for your actions and outcomes. You must be willing to admit your mistakes and learn from your failures.

Making excuses when things don’t go as planned serves no purpose at all, and should be avoided. Again, simply, NO EXCUSES.

Be objective.

It is easy said than done, but being objective at work ensures you don’t take any hasty decisions. Do not get carried away. Understand what’s at stake. Always play by the rules.

Work hard and smart: When it comes to work, give it your best. Always be on your toes and never say negative things about your work or tasks assigned. Don’t give excuses, as it is said, “excuses are the tools of the incompetent”.

Final Thoughts

Professionalism is all about conduct, core values and ethics at workplace. In order to be a successful professional, one needs to have strong work ethics because it is a quality favoured at the workplace.

Such employees are valued in every organisation and it is very common for companies to run a few extra miles to make their professional force stay in the organisation. Hence, apply careful thought into your own work philosophies that can help you advance in your career.


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