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Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it

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Mike Cohen
Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:51:53 am

Some call it the "owner mentality." If you are not the owner, act like the owner. In other words, own your work. Check your work. And stand by your work. Sometimes this means making it your own, other times it means following instructions to the letter. In any case, you demonstrate attention to detail and ownership of your work, so when it gets to the next person down the line, you have done everything possible to ensure quality and accuracy.

The problem comes in getting others up or down the line from you to act in the same way. One loose screw and things can fall apart.

Without naming names, I'm sure we can all recount some experiences where one rusty wheel kept turning, squeaking, getting oiled and then going back to squeaking again.

Have I used enough metaphors?

Maybe ten years ago, a multimedia project was finished, more or less approved and making everyone happy. Then one of the freelance programmers, as a joke, put some jokey credits on the credits page. It did not go over well, and was a surprise to everyone. You should by all means have fun at work, but not at the expense of a paying customer or to the detriment of anyone. And such an incident may very well make a customer look elsewhere.

One does not think to tell employees "what not to do." It seems like common sense that your directs will follow your directions. But by the same token, one must be aware of the way directs interpret directions, trying to be independent or whatever. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. Finding the balance takes years, and it takes effort as a manager to find that balance for employees.

I would be interested in the views of others on this. How to instill your own work ethic in others.

Mike


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Steve Wargo
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:13:55 am

I have this problem all of the time and it usually has to do with, of all things, spelling. My last editor declared "It's not misspelled! It's just a typo". But that was his attitude - he could do nothing wrong.

Doesn't anyone care enough to simply check their work? I'll even pay them to do it. It seems like this is something that has really come up in the last 5 years. Before that, I saw a lot higher level of professionalism. We have a policy that nothing goes out without hitting a second set of eyes and it still happens. Jeez.

And the really tough part is this: the client will call me on the phone and I get the riot act, but, when they come in and talk to the editor, it's as if nothing ever happened. Then, the editors think that I am exaggerating, lying or I'm just wimping out.

Like I said earlier, JEEZ!

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut (not quite PRO) systems
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Jeremy Doyle
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 7, 2009 at 2:48:11 pm

[Steve Wargo] "Doesn't anyone care enough to simply check their work? I'll even pay them to do it. It seems like this is something that has really come up in the last 5 years. Before that, I saw a lot higher level of professionalism. We have a policy that nothing goes out without hitting a second set of eyes and it still happens. Jeez. "

I will admit that I am a terrible speller. Putting spell check into photoshop was one of the greatest things that ever happened for me. Wish my edit software would incorporate it. I can see something a hundred times and not notice a misspelling.

Unfortunately stuff leaves our office with misspellings on a frequent basis. And who do you blame because there's usually 5 sets of eyes that see everything before it goes out the door and usually 2 sets of those eyes are magazine editors.





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Zane Barker
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 7, 2009 at 6:34:27 am

Your post seems more like a rant then anything else.

From my experience the, now its not always true some times you will find a bad employee that manages to sneak his/her way through the hiring process, but 99% of the time there is an issue with how employees act it is because of one of two reasons.

1. The employer did a lousy job screening potential employees, checking references, having proper interviews, letting others in the company meet the potential new hire first and asking their opinion etc etc.

2. And this one is sadly the case in a lot of places. The attitude of the employees directly reflects the attitude and respect shown by the boss.

I once had an employer that was oblivious to how all his employees felt about working there. I was making hardly anything there and wanted to do some freelancing on the side. I informed my supervisor that I wanted to cut my hours from 40 to 30 a week so that I could have some extra time to do freelancing but still work enough to get health benefits etc. My supervisor said that would be fine. Well a couple of weeks later the owner calls me up while I'm at home trying to get the freelance thing going asking where I was. I explained that my supervisor approved me cutting back my hours (apparently he had never communicated this to the owner). Well the owner blew up yelled and me, told me I was treating him rudely, and insisted I start working 40 hrs a week again. After he explosion at me I will admit I was quite blunt with him about how I and everyone else in the office felt about working there. He then asked me how I could possibly think of treating my employer in that fashion by being so blunt and yes I was a bit rude myself. and my simple response was well my attitude and that of the employees reflects that of management and ownership, and that the leadership of the company was never open to feedback form those below them. He didn't really have much to say back at that point.

Needless to say I was actually thankful when I was laid off several months later because the place was loosing clients and could no longer afford to make payroll.

I then found a much better job where my employer would empower his employees and, make them feel needed and appreciated.

And you know what everyone at the new place busted their butts 10 times harder then anyone had at my previous job. They all took ownership of their projects and responsibilities, and there was never talk behind the bosses back from people about how boss should do this or not do that, or we don't get payed enough. And why is that because the management/ownership was open to feedback.

In fact one of the things I loved about that place was they had a thing called "fearless feedback" where any one there could give feedback to anyone else, and that other person was required to listen. And by anyone there, I mean anyone.I would regularly receive feedback from coworkers and management was, and at the same time I was encouraged to give them feedback. How amazing is it when your boss comes up to you after being there a short while and asks "so now that you have been here a while what do you really think of the place, is there anything that you think I could do to make the place better. I about wet my pants when he asked what I thought he could do better, I had never had an employer ask me that in person (generic survey do not count).

So bottom line do a careful job choosing your employees and once there are their treat them well. Make then feel important. Listen to them. Empower them. You do those things and they will bend over backwards to get the job done when you ask them to.



There are no "technical solutions" to your "artistic problems".
Don't let technology get in the way of your creativity!



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Mick Haensler
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 7, 2009 at 12:14:01 pm

[Mike Cohen] "I would be interested in the views of others on this. How to instill your own work ethic in others."

Just like beauty, work ethic is in the eye of the beholder. As a business owner that operates by himself 75% of the time, I don't have to worry about this a whole lot. When I hire a new freelancer I sit down with him/her and explain a few things:

1. You are expected to be able to do things you say can do and do them well
2. If you lied on your resume and can't do what you say you can do, than I will not do what I said I would do which is pay you the full amount of what we agreed on.
3. You are here to do one thing and one thing only....MAKE ME MONEY!!

There is no reason for me to hire you if I can't make money off of you. There is no reason for me to deal with the hassles of you potentially screwing up, slacking off, pissing off the client, dropping my expensive camera, etc. if I don't have an upside which is profit. On the other hand:

I DON'T KNOW THEIR STORY. What I mean by that is, this is a human being with problems, fears, core pain, bad and good relationships etc. On any given day, or given week for that matter, a great worker can be a crappy worker. Or perhaps you see potential in someone that's worth cultivating, this isn't an employee but an investment and there is a difference.

I have a young man who works for me frequently who by all rights should have never been asked back on a job. But something told me to keep working with him so I did. Turns out he has a very troubled home life and struggles with clinical depression and suicidal thoughts. Most other jobs he would get were union stage hand and PA jobs where he was treated like a head of cattle which furthered his mental state. I pride myself in making a job fun for everyone and letting everyone on crew know that they are an equal part of the equation and the machine won't run without them. I tell them I expect them to work hard when required but to take a breather when not. If they do a good job and it's a good show I always give them something extra. Because I treated this kid with respect and dignity and took an interest in him as a person, he started confiding in me. I was able to give him some tools that I learned from my wife who is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Counselor and one of the finest people I know. Because of this in part, the young man is turning his life around. He's using the tools, empowering himself, and gaining more and more confidence and skills on every job. I pay him more now because he's worth it and I tell him that.

90% of all employee issues can be overcome with good management skills. So in answer to your query Mike, I think it is highly unrealistic to "instill your work ethic on others". The question I saw between the lines here is "why can't they be like me???" They are not and never will be you. May I suggest you encourage them instead to find their own work ethic, their own pace, and above all else, empower them to be healthy balanced individuals who value work as PART of their life. To expect anything else is what my wife likes to call an "unrealistic expectation". What I mean by that is, what is realistic and perfectly reasonable to you might not be to them. The only way to find out is to get to know them and empower them by what you find out.



Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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Mike Cohen
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 7, 2009 at 1:00:24 pm

Mick,
I think you hit the nail on the head.
There is more to a person than just what they do 9-5 at their jobs.
I have been guilty of having a bad day, and that translates into everything.
But it can certainly be more subtle.

My original post is not meant to be a rant, just a means to stir up some of the great insights that we get on this forum. And to admit that there is always room for improvement.

Zane, you also make the great point that people will react to how you manage them. Perhaps under tight deadlines one could make an extra effort to be thoughtful of the extra time people might be taking to make things happen for you.

Mike

Well, maybe a little ranting never hurt anyone!


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Mick Haensler
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 7, 2009 at 1:18:50 pm

[Mike Cohen] "Well, maybe a little ranting never hurt anyone!"

I wholeheartedly agree!!! That's one thing I love about this forum.



Mick Haensler
Higher Ground Media


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grinner hester
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 7, 2009 at 1:42:44 pm

You will never instill your work ethic in others. Some have it (on their own) and some do not. You will seldom be surprised who is who here. Suspect someone will drop the ball and usually, they are the one to do it. The old saying if ya want something done right ya gotta do it yourself does indeed ring true. The question becomes can I always do it all myself. If that is a yes, man I say do it. If it's a no, like a hopeful coach in a big game, you'll put your best players in and hope for the best. Don't yell from the dugout... let em play. You have to QC everything and this is when you can offer constructive critisisms so ithat it's closer to perfect the first time next time. It's also where you should do your weeding, should you have to.




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Bob Cole
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 8, 2009 at 1:32:49 am

[grinner hester] "You will never instill your work ethic in others. "

True for most bosses. But there are RARE exceptions. I shot a corporate video for the founder of a company who wanted to tape a "good-bye" as he was turning his baby over to new management. He is a very ordinary -- okay, HOMELY guy. But when he looked into the camera and spoke, his sincerity and enthusiasm were mesmerizing. I am sure that he made his employees work harder.

But grinner -- this is a case of "exceptions prove the rule," because it is indeed a rare skill. A few teachers of mine have had that ability as well.

As for work ethic in our business: with freelancers, I like people who love and take pride in their craft, and who like people. The rest takes care of itself.

The only speech I ever give a new worker is: "Safety first."

Bob C


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Mike Cohen
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 8, 2009 at 9:25:31 pm

Upon further reflection, I'd like to add that a manager needs two things:

1. An expectation that employees work differently from one another and from the manager, just as long as they have the same end goal/eye on the ball etc - a finished product.

2. A manager, while needing to be cognizant of one's own communication style (verbal, non-verbal) also needs his or her directs to know that they should keep them on their toes. It is a two-way street.

For example:

Manager: Bob, I need you to get this package design out the door today.
Bob: I'll try, but not sure I can do it by 5.
Manager: Well FedEx closes at 7, so that gives you two hours right there.
Bob: #$%^&

If a sound manager-employee relationship/rapport exists, the conversation should continue:

Bob: Hey Mike, you said you wanted me to tell you when you are stepping on my toes. You're stepping on my toes.
Manager: You're right Bob. I was feeling the pressure of Dr McGyver, our client. Maybe I can help you out so we can make this deadline more manageable and we can both get home at a reasonable time.
Bob: Great.

or

Manager: Oops. Sorry, I didn't mean to be so blunt. I know you have a life as do I. How much time do you think you need?
Bob: I'd say 45 minutes.
Manager: Ok, it's 4:30 now. Let's see if we can work together either get it done by 5, or let the client know we need another day. I think they will understand. How about if I do the CD label?
Bob: That would save me about 15 minutes.
Manager: Perfect
Bob: I'll put the file on your laptop. Thanks for your help.
Manager: No thank you.

Gumdrops and Rainbows all around!

____

An emergency to one person can be a bother to someone else. You have to consider all perspectives and act accordingly. Sometimes the best action is to pause and consider the options and how the selected option will affect everyone involved. In the above example, certainly there are times when we need to work beyond reasonable hours, but how you get from 4:30 to 6:30, for example, need not be through exacerbation.

Mike Cohen


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Gunnar Refardt
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 9, 2009 at 9:20:37 am

Real life experience:

Friday 6pm, I'm already 2 hours over regular working hours.
Manager: Could you copy this tape? The courier will be here in an hour.
Me: Sure! Oh well, this is a 2 hour programme, is it?
Manager: Yes? And?
Me: …

It happened more than once.

I allways felt that, considering good work ethics, also the management should at least have a slight idea of how things are done. This also is true for customer relationship by telling them if THEIR deadline can be met respectively give the customers strict deadlines when to deliver the assets needed for the project.

>>> Avid +++ Final Cut +++ After Effects <<<


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grinner hester
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 9, 2009 at 11:51:27 pm

Owners are far different. They'd simply pop that tape in and start the dub more often than not. Sure, they may have you stay back and lable it but they also throw a bone your way, unlike managers who have no reason to.
Management seldom knows squat. It's why they manage instead of makin' stuff. Hell, my last boss didn't know the difference between a CD and a DVD and he was the one selling them.
I've been at this for a quarter of a century and never has a manager above me known what it takes to get the job done. Their job was to always pretend like they knew what was going on then split early, making the artists feel like they had something to work toward.





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Mark Alexander
Re: Work Ethic - Having it, Expecting Others to Have it
on Jul 10, 2009 at 4:43:19 pm

While working at a staff gig at a large post house a manager from another area said he liked my work and that he'd like to see me working for him. I asked how that could happen and he told me flat out to screw something up on the current job assignment in order to get my current manager to want to get rid of me. He would pick me up after the dust settled. "Hmm, no thanks but interesting management style you have there".

I thought that "advice" was way out of wack with anything resembling fair and honest work (and moral) ethics but on another occasion an assistant editor taqgged some porn onto the end of a reel of "family oriented programming" as a joke and of course it ended up being seen by the client. He was fired. Next day he was hired at another post house as a staff editor. Jeez.

I'm self employed now and my screw ups are mine, the successes are ours and the glory is the clients. So far so good.

Mark


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