by Frank Myers
Originally published in MultiBriefs
I have realized that there are those individuals, unfortunately, that just come to work, do the bare minimum, don’t get involved in anything, and just put their time in to collect a paycheck and reap benefits offered to them.
They don’t "give back" in any way. However, they are usually the first to gripe and complain when something does not go their way or when they have some sort of benefit taken away from them, rather than being thankful for having work and an income.
How fulfilling is this for these "opportunists?" What are they really getting out of life in general? What feeling of accomplishment are they getting?
For the most part, especially with those working as public servants, the “contributors” have a desire to give back to the community, project a good public image, and have a passion for what they do. They basically like "helping" people!
These attributes make a person mature in character, move up in their career, improve income (sometimes portrayed as jealousy for the opportunist or negativity toward the person). Basically, contributors gain a feeling of self-fulfillment. It also opens doors to other opportunities, not only in their direct line of work, but in other fields of work.
Opportunists usually lack “professionalism” and do not take pride in their work. They may become "chronic complainers" with time.
What they do not realize is that all they are doing is making their own life miserable, and negatively impacting those around them. Why don’t they jump on board and become a "team player?" They do not look forward to going to work.
On the other hand, the contributor likes to make the workplace a positive environment rather than trying to bring the others down around them — gloom and doom! They think about ways to pass time in constructive or fun ways. They like learning and are not intimidated or negative about putting in extra time to try new things or some extra effort to accomplish a task.
I once experienced a case where a person had built up a reputation of being a minimalist and took advantage of any benefit they could abuse to get the most time away from work and get paid. In their quest to continue this behavior, they worked toward moving up the ranks in positions that they believed required the least amount of work.
The Urban Search and Rescue team had received funding to acquire security cameras for specific sensitive areas within the fire department — the Maintenance and Equipment facility, Apparatus Garage, etc. As part of the job description this person had filled, they needed to reconfirm that the security cameras were installed and functioning (initial confirmation had come from the previous person in the position). In other words, affirm accountability and justification for the funding we had received.
When I asked this person if the cameras had been installed and were (still) functioning, the response was, "How did this get dumped in my lap?" I explained that this was part of the "responsibility" and that they were the "go to" person to access this information. It came with the position they were occupying.
Instead of complaining, appropriate responses would have been, "I am not quite sure since I have never been asked to do this," or "I don’t understand, please explain, and let me find out further and try to get an answer for you. One way or another, I am willing to help!"
It basically boils down to attitude and how you portray yourself to others. If you take pride in yourself and your work ethic, you will feel better about yourself and gain confidence. But if you keep being miserable, and bringing yourself down, you will just keep digging yourself into a deeper hole. Plus, people will not want to be around you anymore, which will contribute to avoidance.
Some people will never change. We must learn to accept this, too! From a supervisor’s standpoint, if they have a person that is bringing the rest of the team down and is not willing to change, they need to come up with innovative ways to get them to move on in one way or another, or get counseled as to what you expect from them.
Subsequently, come up with parameters that need to be met with regular follow-ups. The idea is to become a team player and cooperate with everybody else and “pull your load” of the work.
In the fire service, police work, medical fields, etc., there is no place for people like opportunists. These are far too important jobs to have this type of behavior and/or to do the minimum, especially when lives are at stake.
If they are not willing to change, they need to find another career that fulfills their needs!