My partner recently mentioned to me that I have a strong work ethic. His words got me thinking about what this really means. I didn’t doubt his sentiment as I feel I’ve always been a dedicated and hard worker but I wondered if he meant to say I was self-motivated. So what’s the difference?
One definition of self-motivation is, “(The) ability to do what needs to be done, without influence from other people or situations.” Whilst Chron Small Business describes, “People who possess a strong work ethic embody certain principles that guide their work behaviour leading them to produce high quality work consistently and without the prodding that some individuals require to stay on task”.
I see self-motivation as a characteristic that attributes to having a strong work ethic. It’s the driver that gets you out of bed, on time, planning, doing, completing and achieving; whether its work (paid or unpaid) or a creative hobby such as gardening or drawing.
Having a strong work ethic is the demonstrated behaviour that leads to providing results which are of a high standard and delivered in a timely manner. These behaviours include reliability, productivity, dedication and cooperation.
My question is, Does everyone have a strong work ethic? Let’s look at this from a professional perspective. When I’m coaching job seekers, I advise them to consider these three things when reviewing a new job opportunity.
- Can I do the job (do I have the skills)?
- Is the work culture/environment one that aligns with my values?
- Is the remuneration right for me?
If these boxes are ticked and you feel happy in the work you do, then I believe you will be motivated to do the job well. From my experience, proving that you’re a productive worker will go in your favour. Benefits can include:
- Being recognised for promotion or other opportunities within the organisation
- Giving evidence for performance review discussions, leading to possible salary increase and professional development opportunities
- Providing achievement related stories to include on your resume and for use at interview or networking discussions
- Building your professional profile in your industry or field
- Standing out to managers, colleagues and clients who would willingly recommend you on LinkedIn or as your referee for a new role.
Something to be mindful of when you’re recognised as the person who goes above and beyond, is the risk of being taken for granted by your peers or managers. Making sure you set realistic time frames in your work and communicating when you can help, is more effective than saying ‘yes’ to everything sent your way.
Everyone can demonstrate a strong work ethic when they enjoy their work. If you’re not motivated by the job or feel stressed in your work environment, then negativity creeps in and enthusiasm drops. If the fit is right then you’re more inclined to take a proactive and positive approach to your work.
I think that my partner’s statement was him admiring my productivity on my projects, whilst he was holidaying in Bali! I acknowledge that he does have a strong work ethic, especially on home building projects; a big tick in my books!