Jobsworth or Stickler?

Aug 26, 2021

"To achieve major success in life, you must accept 100% responsibility." Jack Canfield 

Encountering a Jobsworth

This week I had the dubious pleasure of seeing a "jobsworth" in action - or did I? Certainly my reaction was to feel frustrated and disappointed, but my reflection led me to consider it could have been something else.

We're in the middle of a major extension project on our house and it's at the stage where every action by one professional tradesman impacts the work of the next. The painter cannot do his work until the plasterer has done his, the plumber can't do her work until the electrician has done get the picture.

Consequently, when one of the team turned up and did precisely 1 (ONE) of their tasks this week and promptly left, everyone was stunned. The assumptions were made and the individual was the focus of much annoyance.

Among the assumptions was the individual was lazy. They didn't care about the work. They were only interested in doing the bare minimum, regardless of the impact on others.

Were We Right?

As my wife and I considered the actions of this individual later in the day we asked ourselves, were our assumptions correct? Naturally, without talking tot he person in question, we could not be certain.

This led us to consider what else could have been behind the seemingly unprofessional behaviour? Here were some first thoughts:

  • Maybe they had something more urgent to do?
  • Maybe they were assuming that was all that was required for the day and they felt everyone else on the team would be satisfied that it had been completed so efficiently?
  • Maybe the task they had completed was a real priority and they had a specific schedule for the rest of the list?

The last possibility got us thinking about some other people we know who are real Sticklers when it comes to process. It's not that they are lazy or only interested in  doing the minimum, it's more that they have made an agreement and are sticking to it.

The Value Of A Stickler

In my last blog I outlined some key elements you need to focus on if you are to lead a team effectively (Team Leadership - the AEIOU of success), and the broad theme was getting the most out of everyone involved. If one of your team is a stickler, here's what you can do to get the best from them:

  • Clarify what needs to be done - they'll do it
  • Explain flexibility may be required as things change - they will accept it better when it happens
  • Share the ethic of the team is to do more than is expected to please the clients/feel pride in their work/make life easier for each other - they will give you that and more.

The theme is CLARITY. The stickler wants to be clear on what is expected not just on the physical outcomes but the behavioural aspects too.

What If I Am A Stickler?

If you recognise yourself in the paragraphs above be aware that you may be associated with the Jobsworths around you. Unless you communicate well and engage in conversations to create clarity between you and your teammates, you may be misunderstood.

For example, our team member who disappeared after completing just one task this week may well have been acting from a position of being a stickler, but without communicating their thought process or their intentions to anyone, it was easily perceived as being a jobsworth mentality.

All they needed to do was talk to someone, anyone, in the team before they packed up.

What If I Am A Jobsworth?

I genuinely believe that everyone has something they are happy to put their unquestionable energy into. If your current job or daily activities are not filling you with joy, see your attitude as a red flag. Keep searching for opportunities that interest you more. You may be surprised to find it in an area you know nothing about right now. That doesn't matter, if you're really interested, your enthusiasm will provide you with the energy and curiosity you need to find out more.

In the short-term though, try to avoid jobs where customer satisfaction is critical for the team. A jobsworth mentality will win you no friends, could harm your future prospects and undermine your reputation with people who have invested time and effort into helping you get this far on your journey.

Do you have a Jobsworth in your team? How have you inspired them to consider the impact they are making? Connect with me on social media and let me know:

Instagram - @simonphillipstcm

Facebook - Simon Phillips - The Change Man

Meanwhile, for those of you who want to hear the full perspective on the Jobsworth and the Stickler, here's the latest video. Make sure you Subscribe to the channel to tune in to the weekly episodes.


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