Thursday, February 12, 2009

Don’t Be Deadwood!

In How to be safe when layoffs take place , Kobus van Wyk states,
Dead wood is defined as ‘people in a group or organization who are not useful any more and who need to be removed’. During an economic squeeze, organizations can no longer afford to carry dead wood, even if it was tolerated during more prosperous times. If staff members have to go, it makes sense to let go of the useless ones and retain the useful ones.”

Learning how not to be deadwood is such an important skill that we need to teach it to our students, especially now while we are in an economic crisis. When I was in China, I noticed that the people there were constantly working and had very little leisure time. I was saddened to think that many Americans didn’t seem to have the same work ethic. Then I wondered how much of this is taught in the schools and what is actually done when it is taught. If you teach students to have a work ethic, please share with me some of the activities you do that are successful.

It drives me crazy when I go into a restaurant and I see dirty tables while workers are standing in a corner gossiping about a coworker or friends they know. I also can’t stand to go into a store and need help but when I ask a worker who is just standing there for help, I’m told that it isn’t their department and walk away. Once I was in Kentucky Fried Chicken and on the wall was a big sign, “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean!” I also saw another sign the other day that said something like (I can’t remember the exact words): If you have time to make mistakes, then you have time to fix it. I love both of these sayings!

I have tried to explain to my students and my paraprofessionals that if they do not have something to do, then find something useful to do. You want to always look busy. If an employer sees that you have too much idle time, they will either cut your hours or think they don’t need you. You want to make yourself indispensible to the company you work for. Try to find ways to ease the workload for others if possible. Ask your supervisor if you can do some other things to help out others. If you see something that needs to be done, just do it. Offer to help your colleagues if they need it. Don’t always look for a pat on the back when you do something extra but believe me, your supervisor is noticing. When it comes time to let someone go, who do you think will be picked; the one who is idle a lot of the time or the one who is always working in order to help the company?

I want my students to be successful in the workforce and I believe this is an important skill that employers will look for. Yes, they want someone who can do the job but they also want someone who will pull their own weight and even the weight of others if necessary.


samccoy said...

Dead Wood post is so timely. I agree that people's work ethic is strongly affected by their upbringing.
I could relate to the "dirty tables" story:
"It drives me crazy when I go into a restaurant and I see dirty tables while workers are standing in a corner gossiping about a coworker or friends they know."

Not only does work ethic mean you can find work and complete it, it also means that the quality of your work is the best you can give. This is why dirty tables upset me, so much....this is the best these people can do. I always wonder how clean is the rest of the restaurant? How safe is the food I am eating?

Thanks! Sometimes there can be quite a bit of dead wood in a school system. I hope others take this message to heart.

loonyhiker said...

I agree with you. If they can't take time to clean the tables, what does the cooking surfaces look like! Thanks for reading.