Work ethics is a driver behind how you go about doing your work. Companies are continuing to increase the value of those that lead themselves with a strong work ethic, not only because of how productive they are but also because the world is changing. Customers and clients are holding organizations accountable to do the right thing, now more than ever.
Having a strong work ethic can give your income a boost, lower stress, and make for a better working environment.
Work Ethics Examples
As you think about your work ethics, it’s good to start with an understanding of areas that work ethics encompass.
Cooperation with others
Ways to showcase your work ethic
Here are just a few of the ways that your work ethic can shine on others.
Everything is in on time including yourself: I have found that this is one of the quickest and easiest ways to let your work ethics shine. It doesn’t take long for others to notice when you consistently turn in work on time and even early. The same action should apply to yourself. Be on time for work (or a few minutes early) and arrive on time for meetings.
Plus the experience or product: Another way to showcase your ethics is by going above and beyond expectations. I call it plussing the experience or product because you are delivering the final product expected plus ________. The plus can be any number of things. It may be timing, an extra layer of polish, an expansion, or anything else that adds extra value and purpose to what you are working on.
Raise your hand when others don’t: Stepping up and tackling the less pleasant aspects of your job or taking on extra duties or projects outside of your job description is another way to shine. I personally have found both thoughts to be helpful. In prior roles, I was able to stand out by taking on things that no one wanted to do and breathing new life and quality of excellence into it. Other times, I’ve filled in the gaps of work needs that weren’t in my job description, but I had the talents and skills to contribute in a positive way.
Weather the storm: Not every day is a perfect and beautiful workday. Some days, or even weeks and months, can be challenging for a number of reasons. Your ability to weather those proverbial storms successfully while keeping positive working relationships speaks volumes about your work ethic.
Tips to increase your work ethic
Think of yourself as an ambassador. Put your organization up in a positive light with those that you work with and those you interact within your personal life. Be on the lookout for ways to connect your business with others, even when it’s outside your normal scope of work.
Beware of distracting co-workers. You probably know, or maybe you are, a person that enjoys talking a lot. While the social interaction is good, you can quickly lose precious productive time that could have been better spent elsewhere. Check your self-awareness to know when it’s time to break away and get back to work and avoid the temptation to jump into every conversation that you going on in the office.
Don’t avoid tasks and communication. We all have unique times of the day that we are more productive and efficient. Use those times to know out big thought-provoking, creative, and even physical projects. During the other times, knock out the tasks and communications that don’t take a lot of effort. Putting off menial tasks and communications shows a lack of care for your role and for others.
Seek professional growth: A great way to showcase your work ethics and overall professionalism is to seek out professional growth. Think of an athlete that is in peak condition. They don’t stop training and pushing their capabilities once they become known as the best of the best. In the business world, many leaders do plateau at some point after reaching their career aspiration, or they give up and settle before ever reaching their goal.
Be intentional about weaving in continuing education in some form throughout the year. What are a couple of books that you could pick up? What is an area of expertise that you want to grow in? Who can you learn from that’s in your network? Are there any conferences, workshops, or courses that are interesting? Whatever your path, showcase your work ethics by pushing your own development.
There are several benefits for you, your team, and the company as you highlight and live out your strong work ethic with others.
Your personal branding increases significantly with others.
Your ability to build good working relationships becomes easier.
Establishing trust and buy-in happens more quickly.
Decision-making is easier when you tie the decision to your ethics and the purpose of the team and company.
You are more productive in your personal and professional life.
Influence your team, peers, and influencers through a strong work ethic. Your earning potential and your level of satisfaction in what you do will only get stronger.
The value of your word is much like the stock market. Its value fluctuates on a continual basis. Any company out there would love the ability to be fully in control of their rating on the market. There are many outside factors that go into the evaluation of a company with many of the factors being outside of the organization’s control. The good news is that while you have outside influences on the value of your word, you have full control over its value.
Underpromise and overdeliver
One way to quickly lose value in your word is to consistently make promises that you can’t deliver on. Avoid trying to impress people with short turnarounds and unrealistic quality standards. Instead, be up front and realistic and impress them by delivering something quicker or higher quality than you promised. If you know that you can’t deliver on a solution, don’t offer it.
Phrases like “always” and “never” work well when talking about the principles that we lead on. “We always treat each other with respect.” They also work well when talking about moral and ethical issues. There are not many other things that are absolutes. When you communicate with someone in an absolute and then it doesn’t play out that way, you’ve severely hurt your value. Find ways to be both clear and not as absolute in your communication.
Be clear and avoid adding confusion/rumors
People will try to fill in the blanks when you aren’t clear in communication. Some leaders enjoy playing a cat and mouse game in their communication. They don’t want to tell you what fully going on, but they want you to figure it out. This only frustrates the ones that are sharp enough to catch on and others will miss the point entirely. Also avoid adding in subjective, rumors or what-ifs when you have to deliver tough news. It’s weak leadership to try to hide behind a rumor to make yourself feel better about delivering a message. Say what you mean and mean what you say.
Trust me. I said trust me!
If you find yourself saying the phrase “Trust me.” all the time, then you don’t have that person’s trust and you can’t command them to give you that trust. In cases where the trust has severely deteriorated, telling someone to trust you actually increases the damage. People can find it offensive for you to ask them to trust you when you’re the one that has destroyed the trust. Use the trust me phrase as a good check on your self-awareness.
Why it matters
The value of your word is closely associated with trust, integrity, leadership ability, and relationship management. Your worth in your career increases as the value of your word increases. Your relationships grow deeper and are more meaningful as well. The value of your word is truly like currency.
If the value of your word were on the stock market how would it look? Would it be ever-increasing? Would it have peaks and valleys? Would it be in a full sell-off, having lost all its value? Work to strengthen the value of your word so that people know they can take what you say to the bank.
The choices you made in the past do not define you. What you choose to do today and going forward does.
What value do you put on your morals, values, and ethics? Are your morals something that you highly value and would never give away, or something that perhaps you’d trade for? Would a new car do it? A new house? Everyone has a point where an ethical choice will cause them to pause.
Your morals will require courage
Regardless of if you are on the playground or the boardroom, you are going to face choices where you’ll have to decide on compromising your morals or not. Sometimes there is little consequence and sometimes you’ll risk everything in order to stand for what is right. It’s important to have the courage to take a stand in those moments. Build a good sense of what your values are and then have the managerial courage to step up and stand for what you believe in. Who is more at fault, the leader who makes poor decisions, or the follower who knows better but stands aside and lets it happen?
Check-in with yourself from time to time
I doubt that many people out in the world wake up one day and just decide to throw away their moral and ethical compass. It usually happens in baby steps and you find yourself in a situation that you never imagined yourself in.
I learned this lesson in a leadership course in the military. We were dropped off in the swamp with nothing but a compass and a heading. The course was so long and winding that even walking off by one degree would mean that you had a good chance of missing your final destination. Three degrees? Guaranteed that you weren’t going to end up where you wanted to be. To stay on course, you needed to stop, check your surroundings and verify that you were still on the right course. The same applies in life with your moral compass. You need to check in with yourself from time to time to make sure that you are on the correct heading. Failing to do those self-assessments may lead you to drift off of your desired path.
It’s rarely too late to turn the ship around
It’s rarely too late to walk back from compromising, unethical and immoral decisions. You may be called accountable for the decisions that you make, but you have the power to choose to step back on the correct path. The choices you made in the past do not define you. What you choose to do today and going forward does. Accept responsibility, ask for forgiveness and reset yourself and your decision-making process.
No one’s perfect and it’s unreasonable to expect yourself and others to lead themselves flawlessly every day. As a strong leader in your home, school, or business you are called to lead yourself and your team in an honorable way. Hold onto your values and moral compass like a prized possession.