As discussed in part 1, I discovered very early that recognition of my contributions, participation in the fun parts of the business, and pay that recognizes the work conditions/contributions are critical. But putting it into practice and integrating it into the workplace often presents the biggest difficulty.
Several years ago, I authored my first book Beyond Green Jobs (add hyperlink). My work was supported by a cadre of graduate students at UCLA who contributed many nights of research, editing, and redrafting. To recognize their contribution, I gave them co-authorship credit for the body of work that they helped create. In response, I received harsh criticism from academics, including tenured professors and administrative leaders, who felt that I was “inappropriately eroding the standard” and creating “unmanageable expectations” from people who “are not normally recognized in the same way as thought leaders.”
Because it went against the norms (and, let’s be honest, because it made them look bad), these academics felt that my co-authors did not deserve to be recognized for their hard work.
I had been in their position before, in my past work life. I had done all the hard work, only to watch my superior(s) receive all the praise and recognition, and I refused to do it to someone else. And it is this attitude and outlook on my work life that has made me a sought-after employee and boss.
So, what was the outcome?
Those “unworthy” students are now leading efforts in their own right, inspiring their peers to author their own works, they have launched leading non-profits, and built businesses of their own.
Do I want credit for that? No.
They had a valuable work experience that has inspired many of them to take action. I call it a work experience, rather than an academic experience, because they legitimately put in work.
It is not dissimilar to student athletes who generate income for their multi-million dollar universities without compensation, beyond the ability to “earn a degree” from that institution – but that’s a discussion for another day.
I wanted those students to know how much I valued their hard work and input, and I felt the best way to honor their contributions was to give them formal recognition as co-authors.
Your work attitude has been shaped by your work experience; it is important to understand that how you contribute to the bottom line is a direct result of how you are treated in your work environment, and it touches everyone who works with you or for you. A positive work attitude grows from an employee feeling valued, believing their engagement is recognized as contributing to the successful outcome that is being pursued, and being able to participate in the win.
Let’s keep talking about the World of Work.
Share the experience that shaped your work attitude in the comments.
Find a couple of articles or research on the subject here.
If you need help, let’s chat here.