I don’t know about you but being called lazy is one of the biggest insults I think there is. I was fortunate to be raised where productivity, hard work and accountability were encouraged, which is why I’m sure that I find the term lazy so insulting. But, I do know it is an issue. Talk with any business owner or leader and I bet they’ll tell you that one of their biggest challenges is finding good employees that will show up and do the work.
Are you one of those? Are you lazy at work? While we could blame it on generations or upbringings, the reason really isn’t the important piece. What is important is how you step up and change your approach from lazy to productive. There is so much to gain for those that are on the productive and accountable side, particularly in a market that is screaming for good talent.
We talk a lot about the ‘Above the Line; Below the Line’ principle in our office and in some of the training we offer. There are a lot of great ways to apply this philosophy, but I think it is most helpful from a personal accountability standpoint.
Generalizing, the principle refers to drawing a line in the sand. If you are above the line you look for ways to do more, better, etc. You take responsibility and work to solve or act on the situation. If your mindset is below the line, you wait to see what happens. You make excuses for why you can’t do it. You say things like it isn’t my job or I didn’t do it. Or, you flat out ignore the situation all together. As you can see, the below the line mindset can be synonymous with laziness.
Here are three common scenarios that I see or hear the Below the Line concept play out and what to do instead.
I’ve already completed my list of things to do, I can go home or play on my phone. Nope! Ask for more to do. Better yet, go to your supervisor with some suggestions of things you might work on. Review the work you’ve already done for accuracy or further development. Ask colleagues if you can be of assistance on a project they are working on.
I can’t figure out the how to do this. Can you tell me how? Nope! Come with ideas and ways to get to your end goal. Seek advice on your own thought process, but don’t rely on someone else to tell you how something should be done.
John Doe was responsible for that. If it is not correct, I wasn’t part of it. Nope! Be part of the solution, not the one who blames. Create a culture where failure isn’t despised, but rather part of growing. Step up and offer suggestions to resolve the issues or offer to assist. Success isn’t specific to one person, it is about the business.
Now, I will say, that even the best employees can get into a funk or get distracted by things that take their focus from being productive. The key is not to stay in that lazy state for long.
Being accountable is a choice. No one can make that choice for you. But ask yourself, would you rather be recognized as someone who is generally Above the Line or Below the Line? I know my answer. There is much reward for those Above the Line, both in the workplace and personally!
Read more about what it means to be an accountable employee.