An excellent worker is aware that her ability is best judged by her actions and the results she produces.

CONFUCIUS said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

I obviously want to be in a career that I love and believe in, and I am lucky enough to be doing exactly that. But not everyone has that privilege. The millennial generation is regarded as entitled and the members (including me) think they deserve it but do not want to put in the effort that our forefathers did.

And to a certain extent, I agree. My parents’ generation did not have the luxury of picking and choosing the careers they wanted; they got a stable job that paid them enough to make ends meet and bring up a family. It did not matter whether they liked the job or not, they just did it because it was expected of them — it was their duty.

Back then, I doubt people took personality tests and went for career counselling to find the perfect job. All they wanted was to be gainfully employed and put food on the table. It was a much simpler and harsher time.

Many young people in the world still face the reality of trying to find whatever job possible to survive. They do not have the luxury that I and many of my friends had of cherry-picking our degree course, then sifting through company profiles and job-hopping to find the right fit.

I understand why the older generation calls us “spoiled brats”. We do not know how good we’ve got it. We constantly complain that our job is not our calling, and our colleagues and bosses just don’t get how we work. We want to chase our dreams and the job is just a stopgap to tide us over. A friend in another company is earning so much more and we can’t wait to quit and move on.

The reality is that at the age of 17 or 18, you may not know your career path. You probably don’t even know yourself very well yet, so how can you be expected to choose a career to dedicate your life to? In your twenties, you may find your calling, but you may not. Even if you know exactly what you want to do, chances are you will have to slog along doing things you do not really want to do, and slowly climb to the top. You may stumble around with no idea of the perfect job for you, and you are just going with the flow till you (hopefully) find it.

A survey in 2016 in Asia found that 60 per cent of millennials, especially those aged 25-34, are constantly seeking another job even if they are employed. Job hoppers also tend to have the lowest job satisfaction. We are constantly dissatisfied with our working life. To make matters worse, we make it a point to let everyone — from our colleagues and our superiors to the random stranger who has the misfortune of conducting business with us — know about our dissatisfaction

Since we hate our jobs, we put in minimal effort and we do not care how well we do, as long as we do not get scolded by the boss and we get our pay at the end of the month. In a lot of workplaces, the 10am or 11am migration to the coffee shop for teh tarik is a common sight. Chatting and gossiping during office hours to the point of decreasing productivity is also part of the norm. “Who cares, we still get paid, right?”

Our predecessors had something we have lost as a generation: pride in their work, regardless of whether they loved their job or not. The two key characteristics that make a good employee are professionalism and pride in work. From the humblest of jobs to the most high powered ones, these two traits distinguish an ineffective worker from a valuable employee.

Let’s say you’re a waiter/waitress at a fast food restaurant. You do not want this job, nor is it a long term career for you. You hate the hours, your colleagues are all right but not that great, and the customers get on your nerves. So you take it out on them. You don’t make eye contact, you can’t even be bothered to say “thank you” or smile at anyone. You are rude and moody because you are miserable, so you make everyone else miserable too!

At the end of the day, you still get your pay, whether you were nice or not. All of us have experienced substandard service and we hate it, yet we probably do the same thing. Contrast that with someone who is professional and has pride in his work. He smiles and welcomes each customer, says “have a nice day” at the end of each encounter, and even the rudest customer does not rattle his professional demeanour because it is the job that he is paid to do. So he does it to the best of his ability, even if he does not like the work. By signing up as an employee, this is what he agreed to do. This is what he should be doing, as part of his job description.

If you do substandard work, the client does not know the issues that are supposedly contributing to your poor work performance. All he sees is a person who is terrible at his job, and at the end of the day it is the worker’s reputation going down the drain. An excellent worker is aware that his ability is best judged by his actions and the results he produces. So do it not for the praise or the money, but for the pride and satisfaction of a job well done.

The writer is a doctor at Hospital Enche Besar Hajjah Khalsom, Kluang in Johor. The secondary school national champion of the inaugural Spell-it-Right competition in 2008 is passionate about education and sharing her journey in medicine. Email her at education@nst.com.my

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