Having a Good Job vs. Doing a Good Job – Is there a connection?

I was talking with a colleague the other day about jobs here in Maine. I really enjoy talking with Henry because he’s a thinker, and we both like to explore ideas. As the labor market in state is quite tight right now, we were discussing ideas about job retention strategies for small businesses. Our conversation turned to issues related to job performance and ways that employers can manage to hang on to their high performing employees. In the middle of our talk Henry paused, was quiet for a moment, and then asked me “Do you think there is a connection between a having a good job and doing a good job?”

My turn to pause.

After a couple of seconds, I replied, “You know, I think the two ideas are definitely related.”

Most of the time people think that when someone is doing a good job they are driven by their work ethic, their talent and their passion. And I am sure that is true. A solid employee shows up to work on time. They are ready to work when they arrive. They have the drive and desire to perform their job with a sense of pride in what they do. They exceed their job’s minimum requirements and week in and week out continue to produce strong results. That they “do a good job” is definitely related to who they are. We love these people on our teams, right?

But you know, when we look a little deeper into how all employees can perform at a high level, we start to see that their efforts can be supported by many things in the workplace that owners and managers do, intentionally, to create “that good job” including:

  • People are hired to do work at which they can be successful and perhaps even, excel.
  • They feel safe both physically and emotionally at work.
  • They’ve been provided the resources – enough time, perhaps equipment, technology, materials, tools, and certainly the training required to do their work.
  • There is a work environment of appreciation for the work that all employees do, and very possibly there is an atmosphere of team work.
  • People are given a chance to contribute to their company in meaningful ways and receive recognition for their efforts.
  • Job performance is communicated in ways that highlight strengths and encourage and support improvements.
  • Everyone knows their work schedule with a fair amount of lead time, so they can coordinate work with the other important parts of their lives.
  • Employees are paid fairly and receive other benefits in exchange for their efforts.

Certainly, these conditions are not all that it takes to create a good job for employees, yet this list does show some of what it takes to help employees feel an important and appreciated part of a business, and to encourages them to perform well. It points out that it is entirely possible to intentionally create a work place which not only allows employees to succeed but creates a business where they want to stay and contribute.

It is to everyone’s benefit when a small business creates “good jobs” where employees can do a good job and succeed in their work.

Bradshaw Swanson is the Center Director and a Maine Certified Master Business Advisor with the Maine Small Business Development Centers at CEI.