I am an advocate for workers and I am proud to represent good workers who have lost their jobs as a result of discrimination and other unlawful reasons. However in my 25 plus years as a lawyer and an employer, I have seen my share of bad workers as well.
As American workers face mass layoffs during this COVID-19 pandemic, I am reminded by the advice I have received over the years from my Dad and many others on how to be a good worker and a good person. Perhaps it is a good time to refresh our own recollections (and teach a new generation of workers) about the “old school” ways of our parents and grandparents.
RULE 1. Everyone will get their chances to succeed in life. There are only two questions: Will you accept the challenge when presented, and are you prepared? Most will not take a chance when presented with an opportunity because they are afraid of failure. Of those who do, many are unprepared and will fail. It’s call paying your dues and being patient. A difficult concept for many to understand in our era of instant gratification.
RULE 2. Show up on time, and put in a full, honest day of work. As my Dad use to say, “If your shift starts at 8 am and you show up at 8 am, you’re late.” Showing up late and/or wasting time at work (e.g. spending time on social media for you Gen Z and Millennials) are not qualities most employers are looking for.
RULE 3. Do your best every day. Your “best” will differ from day to day, but you will always be proud of your effort.
RULE 4. Don’t be jealous of others’ successes. It is a distraction from your goals and makes you look petty. As they say, stay in your lane. Everyone will get their chance. See Rule #1.
RULE 5. Don’t bring your personal problems to work. Your co-workers and your bosses have their own problems, and do not care about yours.
RULE 6. Don’t burn bridges. As the saying goes, the path you take up in life is the same path you take down. You will see the same people again that you disrespected.
RULE 7. Employers don’t like lazy or dishonest workers. If you are both, you don’t deserve respect . . . or a job.
RULE 8. If your employer doesn’t miss you when you are out sick or on vacation, you are probably dispensable and will be the first to go during a layoff. Make yourself valuable to your employer.
Rule 9. A good leader has to first learn how to follow. You may think you are smarter or better qualified than your boss, but respect authority. Arrogance is not an admirable quality. Plus you may learn something along the way. One day you will want the same respect from your subordinates.
RULE 10. Be a person of principle. Workplace discrimination, sexual harassment and other unlawful conduct are cancers that only grow if left untreated. Speak out and stand up for others. If the company does not change, you don’t want to be a part of their culture.
Our prayers for American workers and American businesses as we get through this difficult time. Remember, great workers make great companies.