Having a Good Job vs. Doing a Good Job

January, 2018

A colleague asked me the other day, “What’s the difference between a having a good job and doing a good job?”

I think my answer surprised her, “You know, they are definitely related,” I replied.

Most of the time we think that when someone is doing a good job they are driven by their work ethic. They show up on time, they are ready to work when they arrive, they have the talent and they perform their job with a sense of pride in what they do. They exceed their job’s minimum requirements and continue to produce solid results. They “do a good job.” We love these people on our teams, right?

When we look a little deeper into how employees perform at a high level, we start to realize that their efforts are supported by many elements in the workplace that create “a good job” including:

  • They were hired to do work at which they can excel.
  • They feel safe both physically and emotionally at work.
  • They have the resources required to do their work.
  • There is a culture of appreciation for the work they do, and a sense of being part of a team.
  • They are given a chance to contribute and receive recognition for their efforts.
  • Job performance is communicated in ways that highlight strengths and encourage and support improvements.
  • Employees are paid fairly and receive other benefits in exchange for their efforts.

While these qualities are not all that make a good job, they are part of a list that shows that a small business owner understands what it takes to help their employees perform well and has intentionally created a work place to help employees succeed.

Ask yourself: Are there areas in your small business you can see where improvements will help employees succeed in their work?

Remember, these are the people you have hired to help you achieve the business results you want. Creating a good job improves employees’ chances of doing a good job for you.


I know a Good Job when I see one!

December, 2017

Several years back my wife and I were sitting in the base lodge of one of Maine’s amazing ski areas, buckling up our boots and getting ready for a day on the slopes.

As we were heading out, a woman approached us and introduced herself. She told us she worked for the ski area and wondered if we’d be willing to help with an employee focused program that the company was running. We said “Sure.”

She explained that she wanted us to observe the Sunday River employees we saw or met during our day of skiing. “If someone is doing an exceptionally good job,” she explained, “I’d like you to give them this envelope. It awards them $100, a paid day off, and a lunch with the President of the company.” We could choose anyone we thought deserving.

What a great program!  Ask customers to pay attention to the quality of the work that is getting done all around them, and award one employee a valuable acknowledgement of their efforts.

Of course, this was not as random an exercise as it might appear. Good job performance does not just happen. To have the confidence to run this sort of program, where a company intentionally brings attention to their employees, a company must:

  • Have a vision of what it wants to accomplish
  • Know how employees will help make the vision happen
  • Organize and create polices for the work that must be done
  • Recruit, screen and hire to get the right people into the right job.
  • Provide initial and on-going training to employees and regular feedback about their performance
  • Pay a fair wage or salary, and offer on-the-job support and leadership that motivates and encourages strong performance
  • Offer perks or benefits befitting the company’s focus good jobs and employee retention

In my posts I’ll offer insights, observations, short interviews, points from guest bloggers and more on the art and management of good jobs for your employees – the people who help to make you successful.

CEI is a mission-driven investor, a private non-profit community development corporation that helps its client companies and communities to grow good jobs. We know that it is challenging to start, grow and run a small business and lead and manage employees. We also know the benefits of doing so – and are strategically focused to assist.

(By the way – my wife and I awarded the recognition to a energetic ski instructor who in a fun but firm manner managed to organize and maintain the energies and actions of nine very excited 11-13-year-old girls who had just burst into the crowded lodge to warm up and have lunch. Great job!)

Bradshaw Swanson is a Maine Certified Master Business Advisor with the Maine Small Business Development Centers at CEI in Brunswick and Augusta.