Observations of Poor Work Habits

I once observed a group of workers that have the worst work behavior that I have ever seen. My initial thought was I would fire that bunch in a minute if they worked for me.

They appear slow, work short hours, take long breaks, and seem very unproductive. They do not seem to plan their work and results are agonizingly slow.  Other workers noted their work ethics. One would only surmise they do not take much pride in their work.

But why? I believe people want to take pride in their work, even have a need to take pride in their work so why do they act in this way. If we were their supervisor, we would need to investigate why they are working in this manner.

Is it because they do not care? I don’t think that is the case because I believe that people inherently want to do a good job at whatever they are doing. It is human nature to want to excel. It could be that they really are bad workers that don’t care, but that would be very, very unusual. So what is causing them to behave this way?

Have they been trained properly in the best methods of doing their work? Training pays dividends to any employer but most often gets overlooked or short-changed because of cost or expediency. Learning on the job or worker training worker is dangerous. Remember the game you played when young by whispering something to a friend sitting in a circle and then have them in turn whisper it to the person next to them? By the time it gets around the circle the message is quite different from what was started. Worker training worker gets the same distortion.

Do the workers have clear understanding of what is expected of them? As the old saying goes, if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there. Objectives, timetables, quality, appearance, and other parameters must be explained in clear, simple terms so the employees have a clear understanding.

Are the employees provided with good processes as to how their work is to be performed? Processes are the responsibility of management; processes that produce the best results in the shortest time. The employees responsibility is to do the best they can with the processes provided.

Is the material they are provided with of good quality, delivered to them timely, and correctly? Do they have the proper tools and of good quality?

Do they have good supervision? I do not like the term management because it means the act or art of handling, controlling, and directing. A better term is leadership because it means setting the example by behaving in ways consistent with stated values, being the role model, out in front, in fact leading. Leaders lead!

So after reflection on the scene I observed, I must conclude it is not the workers fault. Leadership seems to be missing. Once again, we must ask why. Much of the above could also apply to the leader, do they understand their job, have they been properly trained, do they have too much on their plate to lead properly, etc.?

There are many processes in any organization, not the least of which is leadership. We need to constantly remind ourselves to not fix the blame but to fix the process.

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