Road Signs for Success – June 18, 2008

By Gerald Daniels

Charlie’s determination at work is evident to all who know him. His ability to complete most any work- related task in a professional and timely manner is a given. You can count on him to do what he agrees to do, and he is pleasant to be around. More often than not in the business world today you hear the constant grumblings of employers about employees’ lack of enthusiasm, inability to complete assigned tasks, and of chronic bad attitudes. For some reason this is just not the case with Charlie. I set out one day to find out what makes Charlie work the way he does and found three characteristics that anyone can learn from.

The first and most notable characteristic is that Charlie pays attention to what is going on around him. He is actively involved in the day before him, and he engages all necessary resources to ensure that the project at hand will meet his standards. Charlie doesn’t have a college degree or vocational training. What he does have is an over abundance of common sense and an innate ability to see the end of a project from the beginning. As the project unfolds you can see his attention to detail, his need to improve any flaws, and at the end of the day all tools will be put back in their place — clean! All tools that is, except the most important tool of all, his mind. He doesn’t take work home with him — that is family time. Yet he is constantly thinking of ways to improve the quality of life for those around him.

The second characteristic is the high standard with which he does everything. Charlie’s standard is admirable and obtainable. His philosophy is not complex, “If you do what is right, then you won’t be wrong.” The standard he sets will meet and more than likely exceed any employer’s or customer’s expectations. That standard may have been established inadvertently by Charlie’s third grade teacher who, in an outburst that should make any educator ashamed, told him, “You will never amount to anything!” As you can imagine, his third grade teacher’s words are forever imprinted in Charlie’s mind — but not as they were intended. Rather than allowing the teacher’s words to be a debilitating excuse for failure, Charlie has turned them into the catalyst to be the best he can be for himself as well as for those around him.

The third characteristic involves a pleasant way of interacting with the people he encounters each day. He emphasizes the value of his coworkers in a way that promotes teamwork by recognizing each individual’s contributions to the team. There are always going to be the gruff and abrasive people to deal with each day. There is no doubt they’re with us for a reason. Maybe it is to teach us to appreciate the pleasant people in our lives a bit more. Bonnie Jean Wasmund tells us, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Charlie helps each individual feel good about themselves by being pleasant and promoting harmony in the work place.

Which of these characteristics do you possess? Is there one, or two, or maybe all three that you could improve on? Charlie is determined to pay attention, to maintain a high standard, and to be a pleasant person each day. The day I set out to find out what makes Charlie work the way he does, was a day not unlike any other day in the week. I glanced out the office window and Charlie was going across the parking lot like a whirling dervish to get everything ready for the arriving workers. It occurred to me, this is the type of employee every employer wants on their team.

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