What is a “Hard Worker”?

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Hard Work no substituteI was talking with my 15 year old recently and the topic of being a “hard worker” came up.  I asked him to do some work around the house and while he did what was asked it was done late and not without complaint.  When I talked to him about what it meant to be a hard worker he felt that the term “hard work” related to him because he completed the task AND the work he did was difficult.  For any employer or manager the term “hard worker” has a much different meaning than many employees understand.  For teens, becoming a hard worker and understanding what a hard worker is can make a huge difference in your success.  Here are the 5 steps we use to identify hard workers at CollegeHelpers.com and the expectations we set for any new entry-level employee.  As we like to say – “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” – Kevin Durant.  Needless to say, my son has also now learned the difference.

How to be a hard worker

Step 1 – Do the work

My son had the first part right – you’ve got to do the work you’ve been assigned – even if it’s hard.

Step 2 – Do the work when it’s supposed to be done

Hard workers know that if they have a job to do that they should do it ASAP in relationship to the other jobs assigned, not when it’s convenient.  If you’re not working on something else at the moment – do it immediately.  Don’t wait for the “right moment” or until you feel motivated to get the job done and most of all don’t wait to be told a second time.

Step 3 – Be happy you have work to do

We had an intern working with us recently who sighed every time she was assigned a new task.  There is no bigger turn-off for an employer than an employee who doesn’t want to do a job.  When asked why she was sighing her response was that the task didn’t interest her.  She is now doing uninteresting tasks somewhere else. Being a hard worker means getting the job done with a good attitude even when it’s not fun.  We all have to do work we don’t like that’s why it’s called work and it’s how we make opportunities for career progress.

Step 4 – Don’t wait to be asked to do something

Hard workers know the path to success is about getting things done.  If you don’t currently have a task to do find something productive that is useful – be proactive.  It’s great if you can do steps 1 through 3 but what really proves you’re a hard worker is finding your own work to do without being told.  A hard worker doesn’t just wait for the job, they go out and get it done on their own.

Step 5 – Do the work without expectation of praise

We all like to hear that we’ve done a good job, but hard workers learn to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment more than the praise of others.  Not surprisingly, those who don’t need to be praised are the ones who receive praise the most.

How employers can create hard workers

As employers, we should help educate the next generation of workers.  Set clear expectations when hiring a student to work for you and be clear that you only hire hard workers AND tell them what makes someone a hard worker.  Last step – recognize their efforts when they get it right even when they don’t expect it!