Look at yourself first and improve

Jackie Wilson Asheeke

Far too many people refuse to check themselves as the main reason their employment expectations are not being met. In the new normal with many qualified people competing for the same jobs, employees will keep jobs on the basis of performance. The poor work ethic in this country will be challenged. Employees will be forced to look inside for solutions instead of whining about the external barriers.

Those who feel aggrieved on their jobs often blame tribalism, nepotism, corruption or personality clashes for their situation. They blame the government, a particular business or their supervisors. They even point fingers at colleagues as the source of their professional unhappiness. To be fair, some of this may well be the case. That issue is for another column. But, it is equally true that in most cases (pandemic and recession issues notwithstanding), the lack of career advancement is because the employee is not performing to the criteria required.

Earning a pay increase or promotion is based on what you can do to add value to the employer; performance is everything. That is the work ethic needed in the new normal. I recognize that friends/family and connected people can be given opportunities regardless of competence. That is a different fight. For the majority, however, far too many choose incompetence on the job and don’t give a damn. When pay increases don’t come, they cannot blame others for their lack of performance. They must own their choices.

There are employees who always come in late. Some stay on their cell phone and gossip with colleagues instead of serving the clients. Still others do not engage in internal skills development opportunities. They miss (or are mentally asleep at) meetings; and regularly submit poor quality work. These people shoot themselves in the foot professionally, but are the first to blame someone else.

Employees need to constantly ask themselves how they can improve. They must plan out how to show the boss that they have exceeded work requirements. Why not come in a bit early to get a head start? Why do workers run out of the door exactly at 5 pm? Why not offer a new way of doing a task that may be more efficient? Why not pay for workshop or training class to master a new skill? If you don’t do more, how can you expect to receive more?

There must be a drug in Namibia’s water supply that makes people think that time on a job = performance on a job. This is wrong thinking.

A person can be on a job for ten years adding insufficient value to the company. Someone else may be there two years and have more outputs of a higher quality. Tenure on the job is important but it is not the most critical job security factor – performance is.

Of course, you have to be smart about demanding promotions or more salary. Those working in tourism companies (for example) who demand a pay increase right now need to have their heads examined. Instead, successful employees show awareness about the markets, clients, and industry. Let your employer know that you care not only a monthly pay cheque but the business itself. When retrenchment decisions are being made, your initiative, diligence and interest could mean you stay when someone who has been employed longer, is dismissed.

People think that once they get a job, the hard part is over. They are wrong. The difficult thing is to work to your capacity every day. Raising your game regularly and increasing outputs is very hard work.

We have hungry graduates and talented retrenched workers out there who feel the bite of unemployment due to recession and the pandemic. They will value a steady job if they get it. They would love to have YOUR job. The entitled, bored workers out there must know that it is a buyer’s market for labour right now. Guard your job with high performance. Look at yourself first to see how you can improve on the job.

The new normal and the glut of experience and skills on the labour market may finally teach Namibian workers to improve their work ethic. We must look inside for solutions and stop blaming others when things on the job don’t meet our expectations. Stop complaining and decide to do better.

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