How to Foster a Strong Work Ethic with Your Team

How important is a work ethic? According to Jennifer Bridges, PMP, the lack of a strong one can derail a project or an organization, so learn how to foster a strong work ethic with your team.

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ways to get your team to have a strong work ethic

In Review – How to Foster a Strong Work Ethic with Your Team

A strong work ethic is crucial, Jennifer said. But defining a work ethic is not so easy. There are disconnects between cultures and generations, especially from company to company. You’ve read about Boomers and Millennials. The differences between the two generations are generally stereotypical, yet there is still a strong current of thought and behavior that separates the two.

Then there are companies in different industries that hold differing ethical viewpoints. Think about how a tech company works compared to say a traditional manufacturer, and you’ll start to get an idea of what Jennifer means.

Why Do Ethics Matter?

If there’s no constant, and ethics are a moving target that land on fundamentally different spots for different groups, why should we even worry about a work ethic? Because, while all that might be true, research has shown that one’s work ethic has a bearing on the bottom line.

Teams thrive when they have a strong work ethic. It drives projects to success. A strong work ethic, especially when channeled through a powerful project management software, can propel your team to achieve more and become more productive. If the work ethic is different depending on the context and the people involved, well so be it.

What Does a Strong Work Ethic Look Like?

Regardless of the differences, Jennifer notes that there are still constants that can act as a lodestar to help you foster a strong work ethic with your team.

  1. Have a Positive Mindset: Yes, it’s true; the power of positive thinking is effective. That can-do attitude goes a long way to raising the morale of the team and, in so doing, creates a more productive work environment.
  2. Be Reliable: No matter what happens, a team’s first responsibility is to follow-through with the tasks that they’ve been assigned. If people start slacking off, even by saying they don’t have to attend a company meeting, they’re setting a bad precedent, which will be reflected in overall performance.
  3. Be Professional: That can mean anything from being well-organized and keeping your work space clean and orderly to staying well-groomed. It might seem superficial, but for most people, putting that effort to look good ups the game for everyone on the team.
  4. Be Ambitious: Impress upon the team that good enough is not good enough. You want to have a work force that is always striving to better themselves and the organization. That keeps them innovative.
  5. Be Trustworthy: This might be the most important attribute of the all, for without trust everything comes tumbling down. Each team member should show respect for themselves, their coworkers and their managers.
  6. Have Integrity: The word integrity means a couple of things. It’s being honest and doing what you say you’ll do. But also think of integrity as the state of being whole and undivided; as in, a building without structural integrity cannot stand.
  7. Seek Customer and Co-worker Satisfaction: Finally, remember the work you’re doing is for a customer. They are the ones who have final word on whether the job is successful or not. Also, the people you work with need to be satisfied with your job.

How Can You Foster a Strong Work Ethic with Your Team?

Now that you know how to identify a strong work ethic in a way that translates across cultures, generations and organizations, Jennifer offered these eight steps to facilitate it with your team.

  1. Develop Work Ethics Collaboratively: Start by getting input from everyone, discuss what a strong work ethic looks like to them. Once everyone agrees, they can then self-govern their behavior.
  2. Communicate Goals & Roles Clearly: Self-governing behavior doesn’t mean that there are no overriding goals or roles that have been defined for the team. Therefore, it’s crucial that they know what these are and that they’re communicated in a way that puts everyone on the same page.
  3. Provide Realistic Deadlines: Change doesn’t occur overnight. Set a realistic timeline for implementing the agreed upon work ethic, and show some flexibility at first if it takes longer than expected.
  4. Encourage a Positive Mindset: A positive mindset can sound like pie-in-the-sky dreaming, so set an example. Show the team what a positive mindset looks like and how they can get there themselves.
  5. Dress and Conduct Business Professionally: Again, set the tone by how you dress and perform, and encourage others to do the same. It might not help to set a dress code, but you can certainly create a code of ethics of what proper business attire looks like. When enough people fall in line, others will follow.
  6. Instill Trust Among the Team: This is a hard one and will take time, so when you see that your team is not collaborating well, help them negotiate among themselves and reach a common goal, while making sure they have a safe space to do so.
  7. Reward Behaviors You Want to See: When people walk the walk, not just talk the talk of the ethical standard agreed on, let them know of your approval and reward them as an incentive for others to follow.
  8. Use Collaborative Tools: By using online software that allow team members to share and dialogue in real-time, you give them the tools to employ a strong work ethic.

Pro-Tip: One thing to keep in mind is that this is a process, and there is going to be bumps along that path. It’s important to monitor your team’s health as they make this journey, and help them when they need help, which is part of how trust develops.


Today, we’re talking about “How to Foster a Strong Work Ethic with Your Team.” In my experience with projects, large and small, work ethic can derail a project or bring down an organization.

But when we talk about work ethic, there’s so many different beliefs among different companies, different projects, different generations, and cultures.

Think about it, companies. A tech company is gonna have a different work ethic, typically, than say like a manufacturing company. An agile project will probably have different work ethics than something with a traditional workflow.

In different generations, there’s a lot of talk about Millennials and boomers and all different kinds of generations, and they, typically, work differently. Then the different cultures. Different cultures and different countries maybe experience and celebrate different holidays, they work different times of the day, some work weekends, some don’t.

There are many other aspects about this. But why does all of this matter? So research shows that teams thrive when they have a strong work ethic. But there’s so many different beliefs about what work ethic is, then what does one look like?

Well, here are some characteristics that are common. Number one, a positive mindset. So the members have a can do attitude.

Number two, they’re reliable no matter what, they’re going to do what they say they’re going to do.

Number three, they’re professional, well-organized, and well-groomed.

Number four, they’re ambitious. They’re not satisfied with just good enough.

They’re very trustworthy, so they’re uncompromising respect and they hold true what someone tells them.

Number six, they have integrity, so they do what they say they’re going to do.

And number seven, they have a customer and co-worker satisfaction. They really care about what their co-workers about delivering work products to them so they can get their work done.

So how do we foster this with our team?

Number one, develop the set of work ethics collaboratively and agree on what they are and self-govern, which means if they need to change then change them because they’re there to support the efforts of the team.

Number two, communicate the goals and the roles clearly so everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing.

And number three, provide realistic deadlines. Set people up for success so that they can get the work done.

Number four, encourage a positive mindset. Help people believe that something really can happen and help them see how they can get there.

Number five, dress and conduct business professionally.

Number six, instill trust among the team. There will be times that the team members, maybe they don’t agree on something, maybe they need to collaborate and come up with a different solution, negotiate among themselves for something different, and there needs to be a safe space for them to do that.

Number seven, reward the behaviors that you wanna see. So if you set up the work ethics, then reward when the team members actually conduct themselves that way.

And number eight, use collaboration tools. Set up tools so that the people on the team can communicate and share information and insights real-time.

So if you need a tool that can help you foster your strong work ethic with your team, then sign up for our software now at


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