The Art of People Business – The Misguided Worker Mentality (Part One)

In this installment of “The Art of People Business”, I’m not discussing how people may have misunderstandings on work mantras such as “work smarter, not harder”; “if you don’t work, you don’t eat”, “work first, play later”, “there is no substitute for hard work”, and “hard work always pays off”. No, not at all. As a matter of fact, four out of the five quotes are pretty self-explanatory in my opinion. It’s that “work smarter, not harder” saying that can be somewhat debatable on its true meaning, depending on who you talk to, and might make for an interesting future article in this series. But I digress.

No Work Zone

What I really want to draw your attention to is the problematic worker (and the mindset that goes along with that worker) who you may find in the workplace, home, classrooms of all levels of academia, volunteer and charity organizations, individual and team sports, social organizations and memberships, in politics, in education, in the entertainment industry, in the food industry, in the medical field, in the legal field, in religion, in . . . The list (and I do love lists) could go on and on. So, I’ll stop here. What I’m trying to convey is that the Misguided Worker Mentality is absolutely EVERYWHERE.

I want to focus in on some of these repeat offenders in the area of work-related activity, or GETTING THINGS DONE. These folks are easy to distinguish from the crowd and you can find them in your personal as well as professional space. I’m guessing that, in the course of your lifetime, you’ve probably come across one or two of these characters or perhaps YOU are one of these characters. I’ve personally interacted with or observed all five categories of worker that I’ll do my best to describe. They’re a complicated bunch, to say the least, and I can’t claim that my experiences with them have been pleasant by any means. For informal educational purposes, let me take this opportunity to introduce you to the Misguided Worker . . .

The Entitled Worker

This worker has a mentality that says “the world (or maybe I should narrow this down to my family, friends, the community, my neighborhood, Jim next door, or my boss Francine) owes me. Therefore, I should be rewarded for the work that I do. But, hold up. I should also be rewarded for the work I don’t do.” Wait! What?

You read this correctly. How could you possibly have a serious conversation about work ethic with this type of worker? These individuals take an attitude that, no matter what, they should be rewarded for work they expended no effort or energy in accomplishing just because of who they are in relation to other individuals. The most expedient way to describe these folks, in my personal opinion, is “SPOILED”. Or, maybe I’m being too harsh. What do you think? Have you met this person? How did he or she come off to you? I haven’t taken an actual survey or anything, but don’t most people believe in working for what they want and earning what they get by working hard? I know I’m posing a lot of questions here, but I want you to dig deep and consider how you would honestly answer. I would venture to guess that the world, in most cases, isn’t going to give you much for free.

Oh, and let me clarify my position on “entitlement”. I do believe that there are some groups of people in this world who have been historically, continuously, and systemically disenfranchised and are “entitled” to certain reparations because of horrific, unfair, and unjustified treatment that led and continues to lead to their disadvantaged state in the world. I’m most certainly NOT talking about these folks. (However, there have been many individuals in these groups that have risen up in the face of blatant adversity and been successful in accomplishing their goals and aspirations without encouragement, help, and support.)

While I do believe that people at a disadvantaged state need assistance at times, I’m also a non-supporter of individuals using their disadvantaged state as an excuse for not taking charge of their lives and working toward goals that will lead toward life improvements. In other words, no matter what state we’re in, we should take the support and opportunities we’re given and use those things in positive ways to propel ourselves forward in life and be willing to help others along the way.

For this article, my reference to the entitled worker simply describes any individual (no matter what state he or she is in) that has all the access to the tools and resources needed to be a successful and productive worker, but chooses to work beneath his or her ability, while expecting all the perks that come with performing work-related activities at a high level. If the disenfranchised can manage to get things done and appreciate being rewarded for their efforts without having the right of passage to everything that can make life easier for them, then what rightful excuse does the entitled worker have for expecting something for nothing? In an honest exchange, I do believe both parties usually expect to get something of value out of the agreement. So, what value are you offering, entitled worker?

The Credit-Stealing Worker

Are you kidding me? Do we actually have people that go around taking credit for other peoples’ work? Sure, we do. Unfortunately, it happens all too frequently. And, how do these offenders think that they can constantly get away with high-jacking someone else’s efforts? Well, nobody stops them, so they keep doing it. That’s my guess, anyway. (To be continued . . .)

For Next Time

As I was typing up the first paragraph for “The Credit-Stealing Worker”, I quickly identified a part two (and more than likely a part three) to come for this discussion of “The Misguided Worker Mentality”. I plan on continuing today’s topic into the next week, starting with the continuation of “The Credit-Stealing Worker”. I didn’t want to wear out my welcome in this one blog post; hence, my reasoning for concluding the discussion for today. And by the end of this three-part series, I will have covered five types of problematic workers.  So, hang in there with me as my reveal of “The Misguided Worker Mentality” continues.

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