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Succeed at Work Course
Introduction | Acting Self-Employed | Starting a New Job | Being an Excellent Employee | Living a Balanced Life | Enjoying Your Current Position

Stage Three: Being an Excellent Employee

By being an excellent employee with a good work ethic you develop excellent work habits one day at a time, one behavior at a time.

Upon completion of this section:

  1. You will be able to list ways to develop a good work ethic
  2. Implement actions to achieve work excellence

Work Ethic and Excellence

Good Work Ethic means being honest and hard working.

Work Excellence means performing your job extremely well.

You need both to succeed at work.

If you have a great work ethic but are incompetent, employers will not want you.

Nor will they want you if you are incredibly productive but steal from them.

Below are examples of Work Ethic and Work Excellence.

Work Ethic

Work Excellence

Pride in Work

A strong work ethic means taking pride in your work, regardless of what job you hold.

Every Job Matters
Every job, no matter how menial, serves a purpose. Every job connects to every other in a complex, invisible web.

Your Job Matters
It’s up to you to decide the value of your job. If you think no job’s important unless it saves lives, you might consider instead: How you help others? Society? Yourself?

Pride in Work Leads to Pride in Self
If you think you are a quality person, you will do quality work. You learn to think positively about yourself by doing positive things.


Few people have a perfect attendance record. If you can’t be there, you need to handle it properly. Here’s how:


Call as soon as you realize you won’t be able to work.

Make the call yourself.


Late Arrivals

Some reasons for missing work are more acceptable than others.




To have integrity is to be sincere and honest.

Integrity is Part of the Job

Integrity means Doing the Right Thing

You should always do the right thing. This includes avoiding behaviors commonly viewed as inappropriate and dishonest, such as:

Sometimes Integrity can be difficult. If you find yourself in an ethical dilemma, you can clarify what to do.

Questions to Ask Yourself

Is it legal? If it’s against the law, DON’T DO IT. Even if your boss tells you to, the law may hold you responsible.

Would I feel proud about it? If your conscience tells you it’s wrong, DON’T DO IT.

Would I like everyone to know it? If you would not want your supervisor, coworkers, family… to know about it, DON’T DO IT.

Would it hurt someone unfairly? If it unjustly harms a person or an organization, either physically, mentally or financially, DON’T DO IT.

What would happen if I didn’t decide? If not deciding could result in harm, DO SOMETHING positive; don’t just wait.

Positive Attitude

Employers want friendly people with positive attitudes. Positive attitudes make you easier to work with and they help make the company’s customers happy, too.

Your Attitude Shows
You can’t fake a positive attitude. You give away your real feelings through verbal and non-verbal signals.

Why Be Positive?
Most people find that being upbeat makes their lives—and jobs—much more pleasurable.

How to Be Positive
Look for the humor in the situation. Smile. Observe and imitate people who are positive. Remember to be grateful for all the good things in your life.

Your attitude has consequences or results. What attitude do you want to project?

Work Ethic

Employers value people who are “hard working” so you’ve got to give it your all.

Be physically ready to work. Don’t show up drunk, stoned, sick, exhausted or seriously injured.

Leave your home life at home. Sharing your personal problems takes time away from work and can contaminate your work relationships. People might seem sympathetic but you risk losing some of their respect if you reveal too much.

Limit socializing at work. Building relationships with coworkers is valuable and ultimately helps your productivity, but know when to get back to work.

Put in a full shift. Make up any personal time you take at work. Take breaks only in accordance with company policies. Conduct personal business, such as web surfing or phone calls, only during breaks.

Maximum Effort

When you work hard, you put forth maximum effort.

Which of the following is NOT an example of working hard?

1. Don’t cut corners.
2. It is OK to produce sloppy or incomplete work.
3. Don’t give up.
4. Meet your deadlines.


Excellent employees produce excellent results.

How can you be truly productive?

1. Do important tasks that contribute to the company
2. Accomplish what you set out to do
3. Do it on time
4. Do it well
5. Do more than you boss expects

You can increase your productivity if you have the best tools for the job.

1. Do some research
2. Put the request in writing
3. Meet with your employer

Customer Service

To stay competitive, businesses and employees have to provide excellent customer service.

Who Is the Customer?

Why bother with Customer Service?

Examples of Good and Bad Customer Service

Good Customer Service

Bad Customer Service

Customer Service

To please your customers you must deliver what you promise.

Another way to deliver what you promise is to communicate with customers.

Serving Customers in Person requires that you:

1. Greet customers as soon as they arrive.
2. Take customers to the item they request.
3. Acknowledge customers in line.
4. Serve in-store customers first.
5. Never conduct personal calls in front of customers.

You will encounter unhappy or dissatisfied customers. You will be required to handle the situation.

When customers complain, don’t take it personally see it as a chance to make them happy.
Customers want mistakes to be fixed promptly and respectfully.

At times, you may encounter angry or unreasonable customers.

When customers are upset or dissatisfied, resolve the problem by being: Courteous, Contrite, Clear, Connected, Confidential, Cautious, Calm
Never engage the customer If he crosses the line and threatens you. Never engage an angry customer in a verbal or physical fight.

A great deal of business is conducted on the telephone.

Below are suggestions for handling telephone calls.


Communicating effectively means exchanging information and ideas.

Conversation Weakeners

Conversation Weakeners cause people to take you and your ideas less seriously. Below are examples of conversation weakeners.

“This might sound stupid, but…” Saying this will lessen your ideas.

“Um, you know, I guess…” Saying this will make you come across as uncertain.

“I was just lucky…” Saying this communicates that you are unworthy.

Poor Inflection
Making your statements sound like questions will make people doubt you.

Inappropriate Language
Street language, poor grammar, slang or swear words make you sound uneducated.

Victim Language
“But that was not my fault, sir…” Saying this suggests you are not responsible for your actions.

Being a Follower

Knowing how to follow Is as important as knowing how to lead.



Team Player

Being a Team Player means you work hard, get along with others and focus on the common goal, not your personal glory. Follow these guidelines:

Continuous Learning

To be an excellent employee you will need Continuous Learning.

What Is It?

Continuous learning means learning is a never-ending process to:

Stay current with technological, legal and knowledge advances in your area of expertise.

Develop new skills/Upgrade existing skills.

Where to Learn

How to Learn

Continuous Learning

There are many Benefits to Continuous Learning.

1. Get hired easily.
2. Get promoted quickly.
3. Earn more.
4. Do not be bored with work.
5. Direct your own work life.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is a critical job skill of the new world of work. To solve a problem you must follow the seven steps below.

1. Define the Problem. If store sales are down and everything sells except the sweaters, the problem isn’t the store; it’s the sweaters.

2. Analyze It. Sweater sales are down. Are the sweaters priced too high or is it too hot to sell fall clothes?

3. Develop Solutions. Ask salespeople and customers how to get people to buy sweaters in the summertime.

4. Evaluate Solutions. Compare solutions that are logical, simple and cost-effective.

5. Select a Solution. Decide on the best solution to implement, using whatever criteria you decide. Ex: Have a two-for-one sweater sale.

6. Implement It. Get support from others, starting with your supervisor.

7. Evaluate It. Determine whether the solution worked and why it succeeded or failed. Ex: Sweater sales up 35%. Problem solved.


Organization helps you be efficient by allowing you to do what you want to do without wasting time.

Organize Your Duties

Organize Your Environment

Time Management

To be an excellent employee, you need Time Management so you can complete your work on time.
Setting your Priorities

Begin with assignments or tasks that are:

Tools of the Trade


Your appearance at work is a big part of your work excellence. Be sure to follow these four rules:


Manners are as important as your appearance. Conduct yourself professionally.



Completion of Being an Excellent Employee. Continue to the next section or any other section.

Introduction | Acting Self-Employed | Starting a New Job | Being an Excellent Employee | Living a Balanced Life | Enjoying Your Current Position

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