5 Elements of a Good Work Ethic (From the Boss)

people with a good work ethic sitting around a table

You might feel you’re the best employee at work. After all, you do everything asked of you, you’re friendly to people, and you’ve never been written up; overall you have all the elements of a good work ethic. But your boss doesn’t seem to notice, and you’ve definitely never gotten a raise or been promoted. What’s the deal?

Bosses Don’t Always Communicate

Feeling like you do all the right things but none of it matters is not an uncommon perspective on work life, and I think this feeling stems from a lack of communication from bosses. What your boss thinks is important and what you think is important are probably two different things, and that’s why you’re on two different pages. Bosses don’t always realize this is something they need to communicate, hence the misunderstanding. Here are five elements to a good work ethic, the way your boss sees it.

Elements of a Good Work Ethic, According to Your Boss

  1. Timeliness—There’s nothing worse than an employee who is continually late and doesn’t see anything wrong with it. Being on time is one of the easiest, most consistent ways to make an impression on your boss. If you have trouble being on time, figure out why, then fix it.
  2. Dependability—Being on time is part of being dependable, but there’s a lot more that goes into it than that. Being dependable means that your boss can hand you something and know that it will get done. He or she doesn’t have to check in on you or motivate you to work faster; your boss just knows it will get done in a timely manner.
  3. Do More—Doing your job is not enough. I’m not saying you need to go take someone else’s work and do it too, but find a way to set your work apart. This can be an organized system you’ve developed for getting your work done faster, it can be a level of quality control that other workers don’t have (i.e., spotting an error before it leaves your desk) or an ability to handle hairy situations.
  4. Consistency—Your work stays the same, even when everyone else is slacking off. This is a hard one. After all, there’s no justice when someone can slack off and get paid the same thing as you. It’s not easy to keep working hard when everyone else has their feet up, and it doesn’t always yield short-term results. Often, your boss sees your hard work, and can’t immediately reward it. Stay patient, and eventually your hard work will pay off.
  5. Ask Questions—Asking questions shows your boss you want to do a good job. You want to understand your work so you can do it well. This is a sure sign of someone with good work ethic. The way your boss sees it, if you care enough to try to understand what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, you probably really care about the quality of what you produce.

Try to understand it from your boss’s perspective. It’s hard, because it doesn’t always work out. Not all bosses are good, but the truth is, some of them just don’t understand the way you see the workplace. If you can implement these elements of a good work ethic, you and your boss might start to see things the same way, and all your hard work will start to pay off.

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Honestly Mag's staff is made up of all sorts of people; from Millennials to Gen Xers to Baby Boomers, we have all different kinds of perspective of life at work.