The workhorse makes a difference in a company every single day. They’re dependable, task focused, and when they’re stable they want to do a good job. Give them a goal and the steps to get there (plus let them know who to ask for help if they need it) and they will put their head down and do it.
This role is absolutely crucial in a company because there is an extreme amount to be done in most places, and the workhorses are the people that thrive while they’re doing it. There is a sense sometimes that being a workhorse makes a person less valuable—a cog in a wheel or something—but they’re SO FREAKING WRONG it kills me. The loyalty of someone that loves to work and wants to work for you is priceless. Don’t screw up these relationships by treating them like they’re replaceable, they’re not.
Workhorse in Management
They’re typically not interested or particularly well-suited for management or decision making role.
As managers, these people tend to be pile drivers. They want results and they feel frustrated that they doing have time to “do the work,” so they have a hard time delegating because they actually love getting their hands dirty.
What They Love and Don’t Love
They feel the best when they can see immediate results—ie. support ticket numbers decreasing, getting caught up (or ahead) on their calendar items, watching the numbers to see how they’re doing and jumping into a pivot with full force.
They aren’t going to put the work systems into place, but they will be the ones most dedicated to making it work, so fact finding their pain points in the work process is going to be crucial in setting up your business for success.
If their work is impeded they will get frustrated, and oftentimes move onto tasks that have definitive “to-dos”—if this happens enough, lots of initiatives will be half finished, your Workhorse will be unfocused, and nearing burn out.
A tell-tale sign that they might be burning out is the way they communicate. They probably won’t say anything directly because they love to work, but you can hear it in their voice or see it in their work.
They’ll say things like they’re “waiting” all the time, their work will become less quality, they’ll be a little rough around the edges (they’re frustrated), or they’ll seem bored or listless even though it seems like they have a lot on their plate.
Another sign here that is much more subtle is that they’ll lack confidence in their skills. This is sometimes a personality trait, so be careful with this assessment but if they tell you everything they’re doing and you’re impressed but they don’t agree, make note of it.
Empower Your Workhorse
The workhorses of the world thrive on finished work so give them bite-sized goals/tasks with reasonable deadlines. You need to make sure that they aren’t impeded in their work and just get the hell out of their way because if they can see the finish line, they’re going to power through and feel AWESOME about it.
Involve them in the process of figuring out the best steps to achieve goals. Have them talk through their pain points in getting from a to b in their work and ask them how they would fix it.
Give them detailed feedback. This means telling them what they’re excelling at and what they could do better. Just saying, “you’re doing a good job but you could improve” will bring out the bull. Give examples of times they rocked a task and examples of times when something could be approved.
If this employee is royally screwing up, something else is going on. Fact find with them to see if they don’t have what they need because they love results and they want to do well.
Other Types of Workers and the Workhorse
The Innovator and the Workhorse probably don’t interact too much, and truthfully they might rub each other the wrong way sometimes. The Workhorse wants to get things done, not bounce around ideas for changes—change is hard for this sturdy human.
The Systematic Thinker is a place of quiet solace for the Workhorse. They make great office mates because they’ll naturally gravitate towards making everything run way more smoothly in the business. The Thinker will notice when the Workhorse has a problem with something that doesn’t work or is too complicated—and the Workhorse will call the Thinker out on being way to analytical. Watch out for the general resistance, if they create a united
The Leader will bring reprieve to the Workhorse because they will help each other out. The Leader will bridge the gap with the Innovator and be able to pull the Workhorses’ head up for a laugh and a breath of fresh air.
Are you a Workhorse? Congrats! Tell us about your most productive days in the comments
If you’re not having productive days, book a call! We can help bring your team round.