I learned that, “Mike, you get your first job on your ability and every job after that
on your dependability.”
If your actions don’t live up to your words, you have nothing to say.
~Da Shanne Stokes
“You can count on me.” Hearing these words is every supervisor’s dream! Just as every parent loathes having to give reminders to their kids to do their chores or homework, bosses are in the same boat with their employees when they fail to deliver. And, in my conversations with employers who hire young people, unreliability is easily one of their most common complaints. To wit…
A teen working as a server for an area restaurant was to show up for her 5:00 p.m. shift. Rightfully, the owner could count on that. However, imagine his surprise when he received a call at 4:55 that she was sick and unable to come to work. Apparently unaware of the inconvenience this would cause, she obviously felt that five minutes notice would suffice. As if that wasn’t enough, at 5:10 she would be posting pictures on Facebook of the beach party she was attending a mere ten miles away. To add insult to injury, she was surprised when she showed up the next day and was promptly fired. Sadly, variations of this story are more common than you’d think.
She made the mistake of thinking that the employer existed to serve her rather than the other way around. For her sake, I hope it was a lesson learned.
In the workplace, and in life, dependability is one of our most valued character qualities. It means that we do what we say. That we can be trusted. That we are confidently willing to be held accountable for our actions and actions. And, that we will be easy to manage!
Here’s what dependability looks like in the workplace:
- You deliver excellent work on time, every time. No reminders necessary. A good practice is to complete your work one to two days ahead of the deadline. That way, if something comes up, you have some cushion.
- You comply with company policies, ethics, laws, and regulations without failing.
- You represent the company and its values both internally and externally with customers, prospects, suppliers, and the community.
- You not only do your work well, but you also seek opportunities to advance the overall organization.
- You don’t make promises you can’t keep. If anything, you “underpromise and overdeliver!”
- You are punctual and bring a positive attitude to work every day.
- If something comes up that threatens your ability to meet a deadline, you inform your supervisor as soon as possible. No last minute warnings and excuses! Remember, bosses hate negative surprises!
Dependability serves us well beyond the workplace, too. Whether it’s in marriages, friendships, community service, etc., we all admire this quality in people.
Parents: sometimes it seems like dependability is a quality you’re either born with or need to learn! Our more compliant children do their chores or homework without our reminders, while it’s a struggle with others. Why not make dependability a family value and help our children understand why it’s so important. In this day and age, many young people seem to view it as optional, only to experience a rude awakening when they enter the workforce. One day they’ll thank you for it.
Next week’s topic: work ethic/motivation. Stay tuned for more in this series, and please share with your friends–especially if they have teens are students who will soon be entering the workforce!
In case you missed last week’s post in this series, you can find it here.