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May 10, 2021

Pride of Work

John Tooley shares the importance of having everyone who works with you “feel proud to work at this organization” is critical to performance, behavior, judgment, turnover, and the bottom line.

By: John Tooley


The importance of having everyone who works with us “feel proud to work at this organization” is critical to performance, behavior, judgment, turnover, and the bottom line.

Our thought process often manifests as words and acts producing harmony or hurt. Each affect our desired results. How we think about our job is how we perform our work. Our perception (thinking) causes emotions, which cause actions, which then cause results at work. If I feel bad about my work environment but have all the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the work, my feelings may drive my performance and work effort. The work I do must become personal and linked to how I positively contribute to the lives of others. This transforms a labor of work into a mental picture of the value of my efforts. Even the hardest, most undesirable tasks can be converted into a state of flow where even though undesirable, time changes, and an hour seem like a few minutes. Why? Because our mental picture of our effort’s changes. This is a valuable state for any organization to have. And it must be nurtured daily. We want as much mental passion as manual intensity.

It is important to know that our sense of self allows each of us to acquire moment-to-moment insight regarding the relationship between ourselves, others, our work, and work environment.


Pride of work is a function of:

  • Working in a blame free workplace
  • A workplace where we work with and not for anyone (colleague versus employee)
  • Being linked to the desired outcomes of work
  • Having ownership of the values they produce and their contribution to others
  • Receiving recognition for their value and contribution
  • Having the feeling of being trusted by management
  • Knowing what is expected
  • Feeling safe and secure in their position
  • Knowing the organization does not tolerate favoritism
  • Knowing the organization will help them master knowledge, skills, and abilities needed
  • Knowing that processes, policies, and procedures are fairly managed
  • Having adequate autonomy and authority to do their work
  • Having a high sense of comradery
  • Believing that their pay is fair

Each item in this list is essential to produce pride of work. However, none is sufficient alone. Therefore, it also is not listed by priority.

Success is the product of a future facing organization. Customers, funders, programs, employees, directors, managers, supervisors, and owners all desire to be successful with the products and services they purchase. So, success is what we are all about and what we buy and sell. We start with an input (people, tools, and material) and apply processes, policies, and procedures, to give us our desired outcome. If the input and processes, policies and procedures are good our desired outcome is assured. Process converts input into output, and they are a product of both being developed properly.

We want our employees to have pride in our product (desired outcome(s)) that result in success, more than pride in the work (process). Our prime purpose should be expressed in a short sentence. One that is easily remembered. The sentence should describe the desired outcome of our products and services and how our contribution impacts the lives of others. That sentence is: We are dedicated to the contribution we make to the lives of others.

Desired Outcomes

In other words, what is the impact of our contribution?

These are our desired outcomes. This is our value to people, organizations, and communities. This statement defines our purpose and can drive judgment, behavior, and performance in our lives and workplace.

Being proud means way more than being happy with the work we do; it also means wanting to be connected to the product or service and taking ownership of its values and contributions.

Teams that take pride in their product, expressed as a desired outcome, have three attributes: first, quality is natural rather than forced; second, they are motivated and more productive and resourceful; and third, continual improvement of their product (desired outcome(s)) comes naturally.

Inspiring our employees by expressing our product as the outcome of their work promotes pride and possession of the work. Everyone understanding the organization’s product and how it contributes to the lives of our customers and what the impact is of our contribution, will result in intrinsic motivation – the high-grade fuel that drives our organization.

We want our employees active and thinking their work rather than passively doing their job and just being followers. Freedom of thinking is accompanied with open communication. We want everyone thinking not just those at the top. All levels thinking and active in the areas of:

  • How can we be more efficient and doing more with less human effort?
  • Is our work effective at assuring success to all stakeholders?
  • Is there a way we can improve our product or service?
  • How can we prevent mistakes and slips from becoming defects and inefficiencies?

Perceiving things different than before can change how you see things from now on. Have you ever seen the arrow formed by the capital E and lowercase x in the logo of FedEx? If you see it now and never have before, you will from now on.

What bird do you see in the picture to the left? Duck? Well, what mammal do you now see? This picture is over 100 years old and has been used to illustrate perception and illusion. My perception of my work life will drive my behavior, performance, and judgement.

Clearly, gratitude given and received is a basic need for everyone. When our thanks are grounded in and pointed at the value of one another and our work, we fulfill a deep need. Gratitude contributes to pride in what we do daily and where we work. The more we transform our work from manual to mental, the more success we will have.

John Tooley
Building Science Consultant

John Tooley is a building science consultant and owner of his company John Tooley, LLC. Regarded as a pioneer in the world of energy efficiency, Tooley has trained countless builders and contractors, and frequently gives keynote addresses at national conferences. He is recognized for his contributions to many of the largest utility and building programs in the nation.

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