As Mother’s Day approaches, it is the perfect time to reflect on those lessons that your mother taught you that are still relevant today, even in the work world. As you will see, some lessons are timeless, and they are applicable in a variety of circumstances.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
Mom was right. It’s not just that making unkind statements about your boss and/or co-workers is not a nice thing to do. It can also cause a world of trouble. You may think that the person that you are talking to is trustworthy, but you can never be absolutely certain that that person will not repeat what you said. If it gets back to your co-worker, it will certainly cause friction. If it gets back to your boss, it could cost you your job. As Mom told you in childhood, sometimes it’s best to stay quiet.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
This is especially true in today’s economy. If you put all of your trust in one employer, expecting that that employer will look out for you because you have bent over backwards to do your job, you may be in for an unpleasant surprise. The wisest thing to do is to give your best to your current employer but at the same time keep an eye to the future. Stay abreast of trends in your profession so that you can remain employable whether your current employer decides to retain your services or not. Keep your resume and your skills up to date.
If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you do that too?
Your mom asked you this rhetorical question to make you think before blindly following the crowd. This lesson applies not just in childhood, but throughout your life. It may seem easier to go with the flow and not buck the system, but in some cases you should not do what others are doing on the job. There are numerous examples of employees who have engaged in unethical behavior in the workplace because everyone else was doing it. But when you get caught, that excuse won’t do. Think of Betty Vinson, a senior accounting manager at WorldCom who was asked by upper management to falsify accounting entries to make it appear as though WorldCom was doing better financially than it actually was. She initially was shocked at the request, but after much persuasion she decided to do it after she was told that this would be a one-time situation. Of course it wasn’t, and eventually she was indicted for accounting fraud. She actually went to jail for going along with the unethical culture at her company.
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
It is very tempting for people as they move up the corporate ladder to be contemptuous of people at lower levels, but Mom’s advice is still valid. As the saying goes, Be nice to people on your way up because you may have to meet them on the way back down. A side benefit to treating people as you want to be treated is that it will make for a better work environment. People want to give their best when they are treated well.
Put your best foot forward.
It can be easy to get lax after your first few months on the job. The newness of the position wears off, and you feel comfortable with your co-workers and the tasks that you’ve been given. This is when it’s easy to slack off. But you should keep in mind that your co-workers and your boss may be asked to evaluate your performance when you are applying for other positions, especially if you get laid off. So you should continue to put your best foot forward no matter how long you are at a job. You always want people to have a positive impression of you and your work.
Believe in yourself.
This is particularly important when you are not recognized at work. You may be passed over for a promotion through no fault of your own, your boss may take the credit for your work, or you may even find that your position has been eliminated due to budget cuts. No matter what has happened in the workplace, you need to believe in yourself and your abilities. You can bounce back if you believe in you.
Get back up and start again.
Sometimes life will knock you down, but the key is to get back up again. You may make mistakes, and sometimes you suffer because of poor decisions that come from the top. But whatever the situation, you can start again. Get encouragement from friends and family members and try, try again.
Happy Mother’s Day!