25 Ways To Build a Strong Work Ethic and Growth Mindset to Deliver Exceptional Performance

Our work ethic is comprised of three key components: our Intelligence, Attitudes and Behaviors.  A strong work ethic indicates positive attitudes and positive behaviors.  A poor work ethic indicates negative attitudes and negative behaviors.  To transition from a poor work ethic to a strong work ethic means changing attitudes and behaviors.  We are going to share with you 25 methods for transitioning from a poor work ethic to a strong work ethic.

What is a Strong Work Ethic?

Our work ethic is built over time, sometimes it is embodied early in our development and other times it comes as we gain experience and passion for what we do.  When people talk about a “work ethic” they are often referring to a “hard worker” who achieves a volume of work.  And that is reinforced by the definition of work ethic…

noun

  1. the principle that hard work is intrinsically virtuous or worthy of reward.

And while people admire a strong work ethic, they have a difficult time qualifying what makes a strong work ethic and how to encourage people to build one other than “work harder.”

There are two primary components to any work ethic: our Attitudes on how we see the world including our work; and our Behaviors on how we approach the world and our work.  Attitudes often drive Behaviors.  But disciplined minds use Behaviors to drive Attitudes.  Our collection of Attitudes are referred to as a Mindset and our collection of Behaviors are referred to as our Actions.  So our Mindset and our Actions drive our work ethic.

The Growth Mindset and the Fixed Mindset

The Growth Mindset is a specific collection of Attitudes that are commonly found among individuals and organizations that have experienced or are experiencing exceptional performance: Grateful, Giving, Passionate, Inspiring, Connected, Accountable, and Opportunistic are the Attitudes of a Growth Mindset.  Entitled, Appropriating, Disinterested, Stationary, Isolated, Blameless and Static are the Attitudes of a Fixed Mindset.  

We are born with neither.  Both are learned.

They are polar opposites.  People often move between them depending on the Situation.  But the disciplined mind knows when they slip from Growth to Fixed. When they know it is happening they can see it impacting their work and their work ethic and use Behaviors to adjust their Attitudes.

Using Behaviors to Drive Attitudes and a Strong Work Ethic

People who are thoughtful often reflect on what they are doing or saying before acting.  This discipline is a key factor in people who live and work in a Growth Mindset vs. the people who live and work in the Fixed Mindset.  Growth is a CHOICE.  And so is Fixed.  But as Attitudes often drive our Behaviors, the disciplined mind uses Behaviors to drive their Attitudes.  We have identified 25 Behaviors that produce a strong Work Ethic and a Growth Mindset. 

Time Management & Punctuality

GROWTH MINDSET: GRATEFUL, GIVING

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MINOR

If you are going to be there, be there on time or early.  Managing your time includes being punctual to meetings, discussions, reviews and delivery of products or services.  A strong work ethic requires effective time management in order to manage work volume, accept and receive assignments and complete delivery on time and accurately.

8 Ways to Manage Your Time and Remain Punctual

  1. Pad your Calendar.  Yes, pad your calendar so that there is time in between meetings whether in person or digitally.  Having extra time enables you to prepare, arrive and perform accurately.
  2. Block your Calendar.  One of the best practices is to simply block off a section of your calendar that is your production time.  2-3 blocks a day where you have consistent, focused and reserved time for completing your work.
  3. Delegate, Delegate, Delegate.  Use Eisenhower’s Important/Urgent Matrix and delegate items :
    1. Urgent, Important – do it now
    2. Urgent, Not Important – delegate it to your team
    3. Not Urgent, Important – schedule it on your calendar
    4. Not Urgent, Not Important – delete it
  4. Defend Your Calendar.  Not everything that gets your attention deserves it.  Make sure that you are accepting the right things in the right medium.  Some things can be sent via email and others require a face to face meeting.  Make sure you manage your time by knowing which is which and Defend your Calendar.
  5. Be Courteous and Punctual.  When asked to attend a meeting of some level of importance, make sure you are punctual and early as a courtesy to the organizer.  A strong work ethic includes respecting the time of others.  
  6. Be Punctual and Succinct.  When a meeting is intended to be short, don’t make it longer than it needs to be.  Be succinct, pre-empt the meeting with an email to see if the meeting is even necessary.  A quick succinct note may save you time on your calendar.  Great Advice from John Rampton at Inc. Magazine
  7. Be Prepared.  The Boy Scouts of America got this one right – Be Prepared.  DO NOT go to a meeting on your calendar unprepared.  Be ready for the topic and be ready to provide the information required of you.
  8. Use an Agenda.  99% of meetings do not have one.  Do not go to one without it.  Require structure for meeting that require your time so that you know how to invest it.

Punctuality shows that you are interested and engaged.  Time Management shows that you have balance and priorities.  Build them together and you will quickly get to a stronger work ethic.

Just because your calendar is full doesn't mean that you're an effective time manager. It just means that you have a full diary. As a result you're probably stressed and running around like a maniac.

John Rampton - Entrepreneur and Investor, Inc. Magazine Tweet This

Honesty & Integrity

GROWTH MINDSET: PASSIONATE, CONNECTED

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MINOR

The solid core of a strong work ethic is your honesty and integrity.  There are many “successful” people who have neither honesty nor integrity.  And their organizations shed people who shun them and even clients abandon them when they feel like the character of an individual is lacking.  Honesty and Integrity are components of the Growth Mindset: Passionate and Connected.  If you are working to improve your work ethic, make sure you are honest and working with the highest level of integrity. 

5 Steps to Build Honesty & Integrity at Work

  1.  Own Your Work.  Win, lose or draw, own your work.  When you own your work and the effort and skill you put into it, even when you come up short, people will admire your integrity for owning your work.  They will be inspired by your integrity and honesty when you both win and fail because you own it.  It takes Courage to own your work, but the value is exceptionally high.
  2. Clarity in Communications.  When you are clear in your communications, you are working to be open and honest with others so that you can execute and deliver as agreed to.  Being clear on what you are going to do, what you did do, and how you do it helps others to build Trust in your ability through open, honest communications.
  3. Humility and Pride.  Express the pride in your work not as much on what “YOU” did but on what your team did together.  You are a member of the team, when they win, you win.  When you accept praise with humility and recognize the roles others play in your success, you develop a sense of Authenticity in your reputation and that engenders Trust.
  4. Shortcuts and Quality.  Inevitably, everyone is called to execute and deliver in a period that is absurdly short and demanding.  Avoid shortcuts that are going to allow you to deliver on time at the cost of quality.  Quality trumps quantity every time.  Maintain your strong work ethic and commit to doing the work accurately and efficiently to the best of your ability.  Missed deadlines are not always detrimental when your customer is elated by the quality of your work that delivers better results.
  5. Be Consistent, Consistently Good.  Being consistent establishes a level of Trust in your performance that people will come to rely on and expect.  Being consistently good in your performance makes you the go-to resource when things get tight and there is a need for rapid delivery.  The integrity of your work and the manner you deliver it consistently establish your work ethic as the goal for others to strive to achieve.

The strength of your work ethic is grounded in your integrity and honesty.  You can succeed without them but you will be working alone with few willing to work with you to achieve exceptional performance.  Manage your integrity and honesty and exceptional results will follow.

How to Measure the Cost of Poor Integrity

In 2002, Tony Simmons, a Professor of Business Management at Cornell University studied the cost of Poor Integrity by working with 6500 people at 76 Holiday Inn Hotels.  Here’s what he found out about the value of Strong Integrity: HBR The High Cost of Lost Trust

Hotels where employees strongly believed their managers followed through on promises and demonstrated the values they preached were substantially more profitable than those whose managers scored average or lower. So strong was the link, in fact, that a one-eighth point improvement in a hotel’s score on the five-point scale could be expected to increase the hotel’s profitability by 2.5% of revenues—in this study, that translates to a profit increase of more than $250,000 per year per hotel. No other single aspect of manager behavior that we measured had as large an impact on profits.

Tony Simmon, HBR 2020, The High Cost of Lost Trust Tweet

Learn, Cooperate & Collaborate

GROWTH MINDSET: GIVING

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MINOR

Maintaining a strong work ethic requires growth and that requires learning.  Over your career, many things will change.  Our technology changes significantly every 3-4 years.  Our business processes change with the technology.  New people enter the workforce and others exit the workforce creating a different dynamic in every organization.  Learning, Cooperation & Collaboration are essential skills to have a long term strong work ethic.  Here’s how to do it:

  1. Lead the Change. Change comes to every organization over time – sometimes rapidly and sometimes slowly.  Rather than be the subject of change, be the change by leading it.  Learn new tools and skills, processes and procedures that enhance the organization and lead the change.
  2. Know the Organization.  The Fixed Mindset is isolated and at times specialists are also isolated by focusing on their specific function in the organization.  Learn the organizations, how it works, how it profits, how it sells, markets, and serves.  The more you know of the organization the more you can lead change and embrace it as it comes.
  3. Lead Multi-Discipline Teams.  Creating groups in organizations that span multiple functions enable you to build a stronger work ethic through relationships that are interconnected and rely on each other for production.  Knowing the processes and procedures, inputs, and outputs of others that impact your work allows you to cooperate across the organization to improve productivity and deliver on goals and objectives.
  4. Look Outside to Work Inside.  Often the world outside our organizations will have valuable insights into doing things better or different that could enable you to learn new methods for your organization.  Don’t be hyper-focused on how your organization does everything, take the time to see what others do in and out of your vertical market to build better processes at home.
  5. Build Processes around Cooperation.  Organizations that are interconnected for production and delivery build processes that span across functions to improve quality and volume efficiency.  Work with other teams to build processes that impact and leverage your team to improve productivity in your organization.
  6. Improve Communications.  How you communicate among teams and individuals may include jargon that some are familiar with and others are not.  Clarity is a key to success and accuracy, improve communications among others to ensure efficiency in the organization.

You can lead the change or be lead by the change.  A strong work ethic is engaged in the organization and can see change and opportunities to make a change to better serve internal and external customers.  Leading the change is the most productive way to manage it.

A Strong Work ethic requires individuals to continuously learn but also to cooperate and collaborate with others.  Teamwork is a common structure in every organization and the ability to work together and solve problems or create new opportunities is a primary component of a strong work ethic.

Collaboration should not be confused with cooperation. Cooperation is when each person on a team develops his or her own plans and shares those plans with the team. There may be joint discussion, but the focus remains on individual actions and achievement rather than on a collective strategy.

Collaboration is when individual goals are subordinated for collective achievement. Joint discussions are focused on the give and take about strategies and ideas, and the outcome often leads to new ways of working

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Professionalism & Humor

GROWTH MINDSET: PASSIONATE

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

Professionalism is a component of your work ethic and it summarizes how you conduct yourself at work or in your organization.  Professionalism includes how you dress, how you speak to others, your punctuality, your knowledge, and experience.  Humor is a component of a work ethic that enables you to produce consistently and with a high level of quality and accuracy while engaging the organization to make it fun.  There is a place and time for both – here’s how you balance the two:

  1. Keep it Clean.  Locker room humor is not acceptable anywhere – leave it in the locker room.
  2. Know your Audience.  Some people will react negatively to humor and others will enjoy it.  Levity that makes light of a failure can diffuse the failure and transition to a learning experience.  Something you can “laugh about” and learn from.
  3. Never Make It Personal.  Using humor to make fun of an individual or person in an organization is a recipe for disaster.  Using humor to make fun of a behavior or an unintended incident can encourage learning and camaraderie that contribute to a strong work ethic.
  4. Making fun of Things.  One of the easiest ways to introduce humor is to make fun of things.  For example, a piece of software that does not have an “undo” function can be lovingly called the “unforgiven” or “the trap – mistakes go in but they never come out.”  Using levity to learn about things in the office creates a sense of “us against the machine” and can make work a fun place.
  5. Never Let Humor Ruin Your Professionalism.  Know the rules, know the boundaries and never let humor derail your career because it was “just a joke”
  6. Dress the Part You Want to Have.  If you envision a corner office, a shirt and tie might show you are interested in joining the club. Wearing a shirt and tie in an office to tie-dyed shirts and ripped jeans can you leave you standing out.
  7. Professionalism Lifts Organizations.   Your professionalism, attitudes, and behaviors, represent and should lift an organization.  Your humor should do the same.
  8. When In Doubt Leave it Out.  Words to live by.  If you have seen an individual who did not know the right side of humor or used it inappropriately, it takes a long time to recover from that branding professionally.  So when in doubt, just leave it out.
  9. Build your Brand.  Remember that your professionalism is a part of your work ethic and that is your personal brand that you are building.  Manage that persona to the best of your skill and build it to serve your career.

Laughter is not primarily about humor, but about social relationships, says Dr. Robert Provine, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland and author of Laughter: A Scientific Investigation.

In fact, the health benefits of laughter may result from the social support it stimulates.

National Business Research Institute Tweet

Discipline & Dedication

GROWTH MINDSET: PASSIONATE

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

Anyone with a positive work ethic is in a constant state of learning.  Pushing yourself forward professionally means learning new skills, new processes but also understanding how the business functions financially and operationally.  A strong work ethic understands the role you are in and the contributions you make to the bigger picture of success.  With that insight, you are able to push yourself to improve your 20 square feet of the business with a disciplined and methodical approach to improving your work.  Here is how to improve your Discipline and Dedication:

  1. Push Yourself Forward
    1. Build Skills – Personal, professional skills that improve your communications and the function that you own.  Invest in yourself with or without the organization investing in you.
    2. Align Your Future to the Organization – identify your future you and who and what you want to be.  Does it align to the and through the organization?  If not, you may need to go elsewhere.  If so, dig in and build your personal brand in the organization as one of competence, intelligence, skill, and leadership.
  2. Balance Work & Life
    1. Prioritize Yourself – your dedication to your organization and your craft increases when you dedicate and prioritize time for yourself and your future you.  We do not live to work, we work to live.  Act accordingly.
    2. Prioritize Connections – organizations have operational hierarchies but actually run through micro-networks of people who know, trust, and support each other.  Build strong connections and networks in the organization – be Reliable and Responsive, Competent, and Empathic.
  3. Take the Initiative
    1. Own Your Work.  The disciplined mind knows what needs to be done to effect everyday activities.  The dedicated mind knows what to do to effect uncommon activities.  You master your work and skills so that you can meet the short and future goals of the organization.
    2. Volunteer and Step Up.  Do not wait for initiatives to come to you, go to them, lead them, and own them.  Taking the initiative to improve processes, acquire, and serve customers will emphasize your dedication to building a strong and profitable organization.
  4. Improve Flexibility and Responsiveness
    1. Accept and embrace change – change occurs, most people fear change because it may require new skills and involves some unknown.  But if you embrace change as an opportunity to learn and improve, you can become more resilient and flexible to new ways of doing things.
    2. Lead the change.  One of the best ways to be flexible is to lead change by identifying new and better ways of doing your work, serving your customers, and hitting or beating your goals.  You can do that by tracking metrics on how you perform your work and also by understanding how your work impacts others and asking for feedback on what might help them perform better.
    3. Embrace Constructive Feedback.  Feedback should be your fuel for learning and building new skills and methods of getting work done.  Constructive feedback can be very directional and useful to enable. Unconstructive feedback should be reflected back to the provider of the feedback in the form of looking for positive outcomes that they might have preferred.
  5. Make Your Passion Visible
    1. Train Others.  When you show others how to do your work or how your work is performed, you can exhibit your passion for your work and your authority and expertise in your work.  That develops a sense of Trust in the organization that you know what you are doing.
    2. Deliver on Time and Effortlessly.  As you master your work, your delivery timetables and quality increases exponentially,  You develop methods and processes to improve the quality and speed of your work and you show that by updating the recipients of your work on your improvements.
    3. Keep Learning.  Perfection is a myth.  You can always learn new skills, new tools, and techniques and build your expertise.  When you learn new skills that benefit the organization, demonstrate them so that people can see your passion for your work, and leverage it to improve performance.
    4. Be Confident, Not Arrogant.  Your confidence comes from learning new things, mastering your skills, and delivering high quality and quantity.  Arrogance comes from thinking you are the master and have nothing left to learn.  Arrogance leads to mistakes.  Confidence leads to performance.

Focused & High Productive Output

GROWTH MINDSET: PASSIONATE, INSPIRING

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

When the rubber meets the road, a strong work ethic will enable you to focus and produce a high volume of output with a consistent degree of accuracy and quality.  Individuals often challenge themselves to beat their own records.  Elite athletes are often competing against themselves to improve their performance.  The strong work ethic critically assesses productivity looking for ways to improve.  Here are some tools to help you increase your focus and deliver high volumes of productive output:

  1. Process Focus.  Rather than focusing on the “work” focus on the process that you are using and break it into pieces.  Writing a blog post?  Idea, outline, notes, referencences, content, edits, formatting, tagging, posting, promoting.  When you focus on the process you can knock out pieces quickly.
  2. Improve Concentration.  Concentration is the enemy of “multitasking” that does not really exist.  Multitasking means doing multiple things at the same time.  You might work on multiple tasks simultaneously but unless you have an extra set of eyes or hands, you work linearly like everyone else.  Build concentration with a few quick brain hacks:
    1. Remove Distractions (phones, emails).  Goes without saying – get things away from you that distract you: email, Slack, phone, SMS, kids, pets, birds out the window, name it – set it aside.  Keep only the thing you are working on in front of you.
    2. Adjust Your Screen.  If you are working on a computer, enlarge the item you are working on to take the full monitor size.  Nothing else to look at but that.  If you are working on building a wall, just keep the studs and nail gun in front of you that you need.  Keep other materials and tools out of the way until needed.
    3. Highest Priority Task.  There is one task that is your highest priority for the day – identify it and tackle it and nothing else if necessary.  Typically with focus, you can knock out a difficult task faster and be more productive.
  3. Set Small Daily Goals.  Make a list of 20 goals.  Circle the top 5 goals for the day.  Everything else goes away and execute those 5 goals – put them to the calendar and allocate time and level of effort.  Do not look at the other 15 until the 5 are done.
    1. Hourly Tasks.  At the top of each other, outline the tasks you need to get completed.  Order them in priority and give them time for completion and add them to your calendar in 15-minute increments.  Get them done by focusing on them one at a time.
  4. Exercise.  Your physical health does impact your ability to focus and concentrate.  Exercising in the morning produces more concentration and focus throughout the day.  Your mind may be telling you that you are tired but your body has done little work.  Take a walk, elevate your heart rate a bit, and get the blood flowing.  Your focus will improve greatly.
  5. Short Breaks.  Concentration for a long period of time can create stress on your eyes, your mind, and make you actually less productive.  Take small breaks, walk around and get water, avoid tea and coffee that overstimulate.  Navy SEALS structure their breaks in time increments and achieve them as goals.  Carry a 700-pound log for 15 minutes and then get a 5-minute rest.  You can focus for 15 minutes and accomplish the task. Structure your breaks as if they are goals to achieve – 30 minutes of writing and a 5-minute break.
  6. Give Your Mind a Break.  Allow your mind to wander during a break.  Think about other tasks, think about eating, resting, or playing tennis this weekend.  Let your mind loosen up before your next task and you will find it easier to focus the machine.

High productivity aligns with your ability to focus and concentrate and produce a high volume of high-quality work in a set period of time.  Build skills to improve your focus and concentration and you can improve your work ethic.

Breaks can prevent “decision fatigue.” Author S.J. Scott points out that the need to make frequent decisions throughout your day can wear down your willpower and reasoning ability. Citing a famous study, Scott notes that Israeli judges were more likely to grant paroles to prisoners after their two daily breaks than after they had been working for a while. As decision fatigue set in, the rate of granting paroles gradually dropped to near 0% because judges resorted to the easiest and safest option—just say no. Decision fatigue can lead to simplistic decision-making and procrastination.

J.J. Scott, Psychology Today Tweet

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Positive & Energetic

GROWTH MINDSET: INSPIRING, CONNECTED

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

People who are passionate about their work are frequently positive and energetic.  They are inspiring to others because they execute effortlessly and accurately.  Passionate and inspiring are often intelligent and connected to their work and can lift an organization to match their level of enthusiasm and build a similar work ethic.  Here is how to maintain your Positive and Energetic work ethic:

  1. Reduce Stress. A strong work ethic requires you to reduce stress or it will eventually eat away at your performance.  Stress reduction ranges from getting consistent physical exercises to eating right.  Make sure you read often and interrupt your static time in a chair by getting up and moving about.  Schedules help you maintain personal time and spend time every day to clear your mind, meditate if that is your thing, and calm yourself.  We live in an information overload environment here is a key thing to take away; “Not everything that gets your attention deserves it.”
  2. Organize Your Work Space. Stacks of paper, unfiled bills, decaying plants, things that are not put away and stored properly become distractions and irritating which causes you to lose your mojo.  Get it back with a quick daily clean up of your work space.  A little discipline goes a long way to free your mind of unnecessary and unproductive distractions like a lack of organization.
  3. Make Small Goals. It’s easier to hit your goal of having breakfast at 7:30 AM every day than it is to hit the goal of breakfast, kids to school, shave, shower, dress, run, pack your bag and get to work.  Small goals are quick hits on the checklist that are satisfying and keep you on track. 
  4. Stay Upbeat. Your macroenvironment is somewhat chaotic with political discourse, civil upheaval, work stress, financial stress and keeping up with the Jones.  It’s easy to feel like you are behind and for no good reason because those things are not important in the long term.  Stay upbeat, the opportunities facing you are greater than the challenges in your head.  Put them down, focus a few minutes of your day on your envisioned future and get to work.
  5. Music as Energy. Few things are as powerful as music.  It can lift you to a high, give you a beat to set your pace and move rapidly through a workout, a run or calm you down to get you off to bed.  Make music a part of your life and choose the right sound to set the right energy level for your work, play and rest.  
  6. Listen and Learn. Never stop learning.  Never.  The compendium of human knowledge is at our fingertips; make it a healthy habit to learn something new every day.  Some things are “useless” knowledge and other things are interesting.  Some things are related to your work and some are related to your work on building you.  Listen to others, learn from others, perspective provides balance and positive energy.
  7. Manage Your Response.  S+R=O – Situation + Response = Outcome.  Manage your Response to any Situation with discipline in 4 easy steps: 
    1. Stop & Listen – listening is the beginning of understanding, ask clarifying questions of a situation to make sure you heard the Situation correctly and in context.  
    2. Assess the Situation – what you thought you heard, what you felt you heard, what you sensed you heard and what you actually heard – your beliefs and experiences can guide or derail you.  A Growth Mindset is a powerful ally to Assess a Situation from a position of positive outcomes.
    3. Identify the Best Outcome – what do you want to be the Outcome for the Situation.  The Growth Mindset seeks positive outcomes at all times regardless of the situation – find the outcome and prepare your response.
    4. Respond with Discipline – empathy, compassion, caring, energy, enthusiasm, confidence and inspiration can all come from your Response.  Pick the right tool, the right voice and step up and deliver a coherent Response to get to the best Outcome.  Be deliberate and intentional in your response.
  8. Surround Yourself with Positive Friends. A strong work ethic is reinforced by others with a strong work ethic and positive attitudes. Surround yourself with positive friends and colleagues and your work ethic will dramatically improve.
  9. Smile and Laugh. In the hardest moments, a smile and a laugh can literally change your attitude from negative to positive.  
    1. Smiling and laughing trigger chemical responses in your body that create energy and help you to manage and contain negativity.  
    2. Smile when you talk to people, they can feel the energy when you do it.  
    3. Laugh with people, humor creates levity and lightens the mood which allows more positive energy. 
  10. Be Grateful & Giving. Grateful is the foundation of a Growth Mindset.  
    1. Stop and reflect and look at the bounty of friends, family, things, and experiences that you have collected.
    2. Grateful people take stock and in their bounty they find a way to Give to others.
    3. Start a cycle of Grateful and Giving that creates goodwill and positive energy. 
    4. Make being Grateful and Giving a daily habit and your work ethic will increase from the energy that is reflected back to you.

Productivity & Teamwork

GROWTH MINDSET: INSPIRING, CONNECTED

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

Productivity is about the quality and quantity of your output.  Teamwork is often required to improve productivity, particularly in complex service environments or complex products.  Blending the two of them to build a strong work ethic takes a willingness to lead and be lead and to be a consistent and reliable contributor. Here are 10 things you can do to improve productivity and teamwork in your work ethic:

  1. Create team challenges.  Just as you set goals for yourself, you should also set goals for your team and work together to break them.  Understanding the goals of individuals and how they align with team performance is crucial.
  2. Clarify Roles.  Clarity becomes more important in teams because a lack of clarity in roles and purposes can leave team members in a position of low productivity or introduce error into the products coming from the team.  Poor role definition can lead to duplicative work efforts and unproductive efforts and slow down delivery.
  3. Clarify Expectations.  As you set goals for the team and individuals in the team, there are other expectations on working together, communicating, and producing high-quality outputs that are also set.  “Acceptable” work is a target, let them know what “Exceptional” work looks like as well.
  4. Lead the Team.  As you define roles in the team, volunteer to lead the team and to manage and coordinate roles and efforts.  Assuming the leadership role for the team includes mediating conflict, aligning to goals and purpose and leading to exceptional performance.
  5. Build Team Metrics.  Just like an individual, teams have goals and expectations for quality and productivity.  Map the work of the team and track the tasks and components the team produces for the final product or service.  Identify metrics that track task performance and set expectations to improve metrics over time.
  6. Team Stand Up.  Incorporate a weekly standup and have team members report tasks for the week, and tasks that are finished, and tasks needing help.  Use the stand up to help team members understand their role in the delivery and to gather support for tasks where needed.
  7. Build Strong Communications. Teams that are temporary need structures to communicate and keep project-specific information readily available.  Build structures and tools to drive performance and enhance clarity and frequency in communication.
  8. Avoid Meeting Meetings.  Avoid meetings for the sake of meetings, rely on instant communications and email communications to keep up to date, and wrap communications into project management tools for future reference.  Every meeting has a specific agenda and specific time allotment so you can Defend Your Calendar.
  9. Recognition and Feedback. Team and individual productivity is driven by celebrating successes and learning from failures.  Teams can develop a team member of the week award or even go to the point of having their own icon for their team to build unity and belonging.  Feedback should be constructive with a focus on positive outcomes.
  10. Display Your Team.  Make the team visible by sharing success across the organization and how the team performs and delivers consistently and accurately.  Modeling the team to the organization inspires others to want to join a similar team and helps the organization to see and understand progress toward goals.

If you consider that an estimated 11 million meetings occur in the USA each day, and that $37 billion is lost annually thanks to unproductive meetings it is essential for a strong work ethic to avoid Meeting Meetings that are meetings about meetings. According to Business Insider, here are the issues to manage and Stay Productive.

  • You have too many meetings.
  • You don’t have a facilitator.
  • You don’t establish and follow ground rules.
  • You listen to the loudmouth, rather than the expert.
  • You drink too much (or not enough) coffee.
  • You count the time, not the tasks.
  • You show up late.
  • You invite too many people.
  • You eat during the meeting.
  • You don’t have a strong agenda.
  • You use your phone.

A strong work ethic includes staying out of the weeds, managing your calendar and optimizing meetings for productivity.

Reliable & Responsive

GROWTH MINDSET: CONNECTED, ACCOUNTABLE

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MINOR

The foundation of a Strong Work ethic is to be Reliable and Responsive which makes you by definition, Dependable.  If you are Reliable and Unresponsive you get work completed when it gets to you but you are too difficult to reach.  If you are Response and not Reliable you are available but do not deliver on time and accurately.  If you are Unresponsive and Unreliable, you are most likely fired.  And when you are Responsive and Reliable, you are the go to resource that is available, gets work done accurately and on time to the satisfaction of your customer and your team. 

How to Be More Reliable & More Responsive in 6 Easy Steps

  1. Start with a calendar.  You have to remain organized in order to be Responsive to others.  Managing your time and optimizing it during work hours is a key component to Responsiveness.
  2. Know Your Processes.  Your ability to be Responsive is predicated on your understanding of how much time and effort, materials and labor it takes to complete everything you do.  To design an email, 30 minutes, to write a blog post, 45 minutes, to format a blog post, 20 minutes. When you understand your processes and their requirements, it’s easier to be Responsive on short notice.
  3. Build a Quality Process.  Reliable performers are reliable because they understand what to do, how to do it, when to do it, and how to do it right the first time.  Minimize and eliminate mistakes and errors by building your own quality processes for your work.  Make a checklist and knock it out before sending anything out for review.
  4. Build Your Knowledge.  Your expertise in what you do creates a factor of Reliability because your expertise often exceeds that of people needing your help.  Your expertise changes you from an order taker to a solution maker by asking probing questions to verify what is being asked for so it is done right the first time every time.
  5. Get Passionate About Your Work.  Passionate people throw themselves into their work and become subject matter experts and own their processes.  They are continuously looking for improvements in processes and systems to drive performance.  Being passionate at your work is infectious – people see it, know it, embrace it and expect it.
  6. Drop the Dead Weight.  One of the components for guarding your time is dropping the dead weight.  If there are habits that you have picked up that are not productive, work toward dropping them.  If there are processes that need to be updated, do it.  If you can assign them to someone else, do it.  What is not important to you may be important to someone else.  Know how to drop dead weight.

Being Responsive and Reliable is becoming Accountable which is a critical component of the Growth Mindset.  Accountable people deliver consistently and accurately and inevitably will be permitted to take risks and grow the organization.

Inc. Magazine delved into the topic of becoming more reliable and they covered the role of a Trust Advisor in improving our performance.  Here’s what they had to say:

Use Your BEST Team. Your BEST (buddies who encourage success and truth) team is a personal and powerful way to ensure your being reliable. Rome was not built in a day; neither is the reliable person. Choose wisely those you want on your team. Ensure they offer the energy, truth, and positive perspective you need to orchestrate your actions. There is no better test than the time when it comes to relationships, so start small and build your BEST team slowly. The key is to connect with your BEST team, individually or as a group, on a consistent basis. Depending on the relationship, you can play the role of teacher or student. In either role, you need people who will support your success. Your BEST team can help you:

  • Hone your self-awareness. Depend on your team to give you truthful, constructive feedback to keep your beliefs based in reality.
  • Affirm that your actions are aligned with your values.
  • By giving you a chance to help them. As the proverb says, "In teaching others, we teach ourselves."
  • Rehearse challenging situations before you go live.

Lee Colan, Contributor, Inc. Magazine Tweet

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Accountable & Respectful

GROWTH MINDSET: CONNECTED, ACCOUNTABLE

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MINOR

The fastest way to destroy a strong work ethic is to allow negativity and the constant blaming, complaining, and defending (BCD)  that can occur in an organization.  The answer to BCD is to be Accountable and own your work and the work of your team.  Accountability is about demanding performance but not by demeaning others.  Accountable and Respectful is the winning combination for a strong work ethic.  Here is how to build it…

  1. Find the Root of Excuses.  When you or others are blaming each other for issues in the organization, you need to find the root of your excuses in order to get the unproductive behavior to stop.  Most blaming comes from Fear of reprisal over mistakes or errors.  Know the root and deal with it.
  2. Stop Making Excuses.  Now that you have identified the root cause of your excuses, you will need to act with the discipline to form a habit of stop making excuses.  Habits are built by persistent behaviors and you can undo bad habits with positive behaviors.
  3. Own Everything You Touch.  You own what you do, your team does, and what you do together.  By owning everything, your team can take risks to grow and your accountability will be related to you communicating on-going work with superiors to manage risk.
  4. Set Expectations.  This is true in teams, individuals, and across organizations. Expectations that are not set are never met.  Set them together, they are more powerful when set with each other than handed down from on high.  When they are set together – you can hold individuals and teams accountable.
  5. Be Demanding.  When you set goals for productivity and quality those goals are not “suggestions” they are requirements for delivery of all goods and services.  Demand performance from your team but make sure you empower them to deliver what you demand.
  6. Do Not Be Demeaning.  Negativity in the workplace is the bane of productivity.  Negativity from a leader is reflected from their team and it can spread like a wildfire.  Do Not be Demeaning when goals are not met, but Demand that the team improve performance and identify the source of shortcomings.  Learn from the miss and make sure it is not repeated.
  7. Knowing & Naming.  It is easier to hold others accountable and for them to hold you accountable if you know each other.  Make personal and professional connections among the organization.  That network of connections will embody trust and develop a strong network that is accountable to each other and drive a strong work ethic together.

Some of our thoughts on the causes of excuses and how to stop making them (or let others make them)

Quality & Consistency

GROWTH MINDSET: PASSIONATE, CONNECTED, ACCOUNTABLE

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

Improving the Quality and Consistency of your work on an ongoing basis improves your work ethic by building Trust in the organization of your ability to perform and the creation of systems that enable the performance.  Let’s take a look:

What are the Factors that Impact Work Quality?

  1. Distractions.  The best way to improve the quality of your work is not learning new skills, but using the discipline to block out distractions.  When you focus on your work you deliver better quality results every time.
  2. Check Your Work.  When you build a habit of checking your work, the quality often improves.  Checking your work builds both quality and consistency in the short and long run which improves your work ethic.
  3. Build Quality Metrics.  Everything you can measure, you can improve.  Build metrics that indicate the quality of your output and track those metrics over time.  The metrics align to stages of the processes you use to produce work and you can use them to improve the processes and quality at once.
  4. Use Systems to Produce Work.  Whether you build your own systems or use the systems that are available to you, the optimization of systems are there to help you consistently perform at a high level of quality.  Service providers check documents, emails, ads, blog posts etc. to ensure consistency in messaging that produces higher quality results.
  5. Collect Feedback.  Whether your customers are internal or external, collecting feedback on the quality of your work can help you improve performance and drive innovations in your systems to deliver more at a high quality rate.
  6. Set Expectations.  When you set expectations and they are agreed to, you have a framework for the quantity, quality and consistency of delivery that is required of your performance.  If expectations are given to you, seek clarity in the expectations at a detailed level to ensure you can deliver expectations that are realistic.
QMS International Sets ISO Standards for Business Operations

5 Ways to Improve the Consistency of your Organisation’s Operations

It is recognised that the most successful type of goal is a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) one.

  • Specific: It's difficult to make progress towards a goal if it is not carefully defined. Ensure all business goals are precise and unambiguous to avoid misunderstandings and wasted effort.
  • Measurable: Without some way to measure the success of a goal, it can be difficult to determine if it has been achieved. When setting a goal, more efficient businesses think about how they will know that it has been realised - or not.
  • Achievable: Larger goals should be split into smaller, more achievable ones, allowing multiple areas and improvements to contribute towards their achievement, as well as encouraging employees to contribute towards them as the goal doesn't seem out of reach.
  • Relevant: Efficiency can be lost if a business is working towards goals that are not relevant. A hiring target for example is of no use if staff are performing well and there is no delay in services - overheads would increase with no noticeable benefit.
  • Time-bound: An efficient business is one that delivers what a customer wants, when they want it. It is the same with goals - they must have a definitive time-scale to be effective.

Michelle-Louise Janion, QMS International Tweet

Task & Goal Orientation

GROWTH MINDSET: ACCOUNTABLE, OPPORTUNISTIC

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: MODERATE

A Strong Work Ethic is able to break down projects and assignments into tasks and goals.  Deadlines and deliverables.  Being able to break down projects and assignments into components enables you to have flexibility in your calendar and to knock off tasks throughout the day and still deliver on time while managing your calendar.

Here is how you build a Task and Goal Orientation

  1. Make Lists.  If your work is repetitive in nature you can easily break down projects into a series of tasks and then add them to your calendar.  When building the tasks, ensure you allot sufficient time to complete that task.  Organize them in sequential order where necessary.
  2. Set Personal Goals to Organizational Goals.  If your organization has set short term goals and metrics, incorporate them into your work so that you understand how your work impacts others in the organization.  Set personal goals that exceed the expectations and goals of the organization.  
  3. Measure your Output.  Everything you measure you can improve.  Measure your output in terms of time to complete the tasks of every project.  When the time varies, find out the cause of the variance.  Through the lens of time, you can optimize your tasks and automate some so that you can improve your productivity.
  4. Delegate Tasks.  Once you have tasks established, run them through the Eisenhower Matrix, and if they are Urgent, Unimportant – delegate them.  Keep the tasks that require your time and skill and delegate the other tasks with due dates and expected deliverables.
  5. Celebrate Achieving Goals.  One of the best tools for building a strong work ethic is to have competitions to hit goals and invite humor into the competition.  Ensure all participants have the skills and tools to hit their goals and have them compete for awards, recognition, and fun.  Making your work fun while hitting tasks and goals encourages teamwork and a focus on delivery.
  6. Automate Tasks.  The pinnacle of building a work ethic is when you can automate routine tasks to drive productivity and retain performance.  Redundant tasks like tracking your time, or responding to emails with a standard template or snippet can increase your productivity and responsiveness while still hitting your goals.

Goatsports on Task vs Ego Orientation

Task-oriented athletes are almost the complete opposite of ego-oriented athletes. They can be identified by:

  • Comparing their skill-set against themselves (i.e., are they getting better)
  • Focus on mastery of skill over comparisons to others
  • Want to see self-improvement even if they are not winning
  • Gain confidence when improvement is a direct reflection of the effort

-Dr. Tim Baghurst, PHD, MS, Msc, PGCE, BSc(HONS), Dip(SN), RFSA, GoatSports, Category vs Task Orientation

Self Fulfillment

GROWTH MINDSET: COMPLETE

LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: HIGH

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a theory model of human motivations that drive performance. The pinnacle of the hierarchy is Self Actualization – achieving one’s full potential.  Self fulfillment is similar to actualization and that the owners of a strong work ethic earn a great deal of fulfillment from the work the perform.  While full potential may never be reached, people with a strong work ethic are proud of and heavily invested in their efforts, are deemed experts in their field and work with a Growth Mindset that enables them to share their ethic.

Self-fulfillment gives the individual a sense of purpose to their labors beyond making money and earning creature comforts, self-fulfillment is the recognition of being a strong contributor to an organization.  Here are some of the habits of self fulfillment that drive a strong work ethic:

  1. Envisioned Future.  We have mentioned this before, but the Envisioned Future you is a place you are working to get to and provides purpose along the way.  Your envisioned future often aligns with the envisioned future of the organizations where you labor and bring you the satisfaction that you are “building” something.  Without an envisioned future, you likely drift from one job to the next without finding the kind of fulfillment that enables you to pour your energy into your work.
  2. Take Care of You.  Your health and well-being, financially, mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually are linked to your Envisioned Future.  Taking care of yourself and others is an essential component of your self-fulfillment.
  3. Take the Reins.  The actualization of your future is where you are in control of your performance and your life, you are a strong contributor, confident, passionate, and engaged with your work and organization.  This passion is seen across the organization and inspires others to match your performance.
  4. Growth Mindset.  At self-fulfillment, you have attained the pinnacle of attitudes, a mindset called the Growth Mindset.  Giving, Grateful, Passionate, Inspiring, Connected, Accountable, and Opportunistic.  It is larger than life feeling of controlling your destiny and bringing others along for the journey.  You surround yourself with positivity and see opportunities everywhere you go.  You are trusted, accountable, connected, and visionary and able to take risks to drive performance.
  5. Driving Organization Culture.  At self-fulfillment, you are driving culture in your organization, whether it be your team and area of operation or the entire organization, you do not permit negativity, you promote positivity and opportunism, you give victories to your team and reserve setbacks for yourself because you are accountable and your position is firm.  Others follow your lead and your strong work ethic becomes the culture of the organization and standard of performance.
  6. Take Calculated Risks.  Because you have a history of consistent, quality execution and meeting results and your Reliable, Responsive, and Accountable, you are enabled to take calculated risks.  The risks you take require you to have the discipline to structure, quantify, and qualify them.  Opportunism goes to the Strong Work Ethic with a Growth Mindset.

Self-fulfillment is what happens when you “finally arrive” at the pinnacle of your career, exceptional performance and attitude and ability to move organizations with influence through behavior.  Your work ethic is as strong as it can get because you are learning through failure, growing the strength and productivity of your organization and empowering people along the way.  As the Mandalorian would say, “This is the way.”

Strong Work Ethic + Growth Mindset

Armed with a strong work ethic, individuals tend to develop a Growth Mindset.  Outward-looking and opportunistic, you are professionally competent, intellectually stimulated, and engaged in the organization.  You become a leader of leaders with an envisioned future for you that aligns to the envisioned future for your organization.  Your confidence and performance show your passion and inspire others to match it.  Your focus is on your self-fulfillment through the organization by elevating it rather than controlling it.  The organization’s success is your success and your inspiration drives Opportunism and exceptional performance.  A strong work ethic delivers a growth mindset.  

If you want to produce exceptional results, you have to have a strong work ethic.  The strongest work ethic is powered by a Growth Mindset.  The Growth Mindset attitudes are fed and built by the behaviors of a strong work ethic.  

Individuals with a Growth Mindset are Influential Leaders.  Organizations with a growth mindset produce exceptional results consistently year over year.

If you want to build a stronger, more profitable, exceptionally performing business, you need a culture of growth powered by a Growth Mindset.  The work ethic produces exceptional results every time and are behaviors the you promise, promote and permit to drive your organization forward.

BUILD A STRONG WORK ETHIC

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