Discover Good Work Ethics – Key Lessons from a Thai Village
You maybe surprised that your search for “work ethics” has taken you to this page on a Thai silk site!
This video is a fun way to look at a serious issue. Enjoy!
Like all successful businesses we are people orientated and in creating our handmade silk we rely on some simple yet important principles of working together using good work ethics.·
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Obviously we are not experts in this specialist field but below we provide what we consider to be great examples fom our Thai village of 8 key lessons of “good work ethics”
Please read on to discover some great work ethics lessons that you may be able to introduce to your business.
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The real meaning of good work ethics can be seen from examples from our Thai village.
Our village and our community business, Thai Silk Magic, shows how the practical applications of respect, restraint and empathy can have fantastic results.
What is a Good Work Ethic?
Good work ethics includes a positive attitude with all work projects, being prepared to go the extra mile to get things done, creating a work environment where great teamwork can flourish and having the capacity to encourage the best performance standards from your fellow workers.
An important point I must make here is “Fair Trade” as it relates to work ethics and is something that many people are concerned about when dealing with a nation like Thailand. We firmly believe in and practice Fair Trade and for more information on this controversial point click this link to read our Fair Trade Blog Post.
Some Traditional Thai Cultural Characteristics
In order to discuss our village examples of “work ethics” it’s important to understand some of our cultural characteristics as they are an integral part of our work relationships.
We are located in the remote rural Thai village of Ban Dong Yang in far north-eastern Thailand and home for our Thai Silk Magic business. Our village regards very highly the traditional cultural characteristics of respect for authority and “sanuk,” a sense of fun in everything they do.
The integration of hierarchal respect, a sense of fun and “mai pen rai”, an easy going approach to life, significantly impact our villager’s work ethics. For westerners this latter characteristic can also be VERY frustrating when they are working in a joint venture with Thais!
Respect for Authority
People in positions of authority such as the village leader, head of family, monks and the village teachers make all the important decisions. Out of respect for these authority figures we will do the various tasks required with enthusiasm but we will always be looking for ways to have fun while we work.
There are about 390 people in our village. Like me, most of the adults have had only three or fours years of formal schooling. Rice farming is very labour intensive and this limited school opportunities for most families.
The Importance of Education
At the end of every day our Thai Silk Magic team inspects each other’s work, discuss any problems and demand the highest quality work of each other as their fabrics represent our village to the world. This process of self-assessment underlies the real pride they have in their work and success in this helps overcome the lack of education opportunities most of us had.
Today education for the children is highly valued by all village families who will do everything they can to ensure their children gain the all the benefits of attending school.
Our eight dedicated village teachers earn very small salaries of about $500 per month. However, every dayteachers are provided with a range of food items; their homes or cars cleaned by the children and families volunteer to do chores or work tasks for the teachers. Irrespective of the family’s own work loads, support is given to our teachers as a sign of appreciation and great respect.
The highly regarded value of giving honour and respect called “hai kiad” and the generous help provided by the families to the teachers provides an example of good work ethics displayed by our village every day.
Our village also highly values “kreng jai,” the restraint of one’s own interests and desires. Kreng jai becomes especially important in situations of potential conflict or embarrassment. People will display great sensitivity in dealing with others in the work place, especially if someone has done something incorrectly or not of an acceptable standard.
Applying Sensitivity and Restraint
By using great sensitivity and restraint in dealing with individual’s work problems, relationships with work colleagues are not damaged. We always try to avoid extreme displays of emotions and these values are referred to as “sam ruam.” Sam ruam creates good relationships and great teamwork.
Great sensitivity in all dealings with fellow workers is practiced by our village people. Displays of generosity (“nam jai” which literally means water of the heart) together with empathy and understanding (“hen jai” which means see into the heart) enable a work ethic environment to flourish based on a caring and supportive sense of duty.
Empathy and Understanding
Last month at Thai Silk Magic we discovered that we had to completely reorganize some of our traditional silk weaving methods in order to meet some specific customer requirements without reducing quality.
We also needed to improve productivity levels. This involved changes to the hand looms, adjustments made to the weaving processes and a longer more labour intensive natural dyeing process.
Any of these changes could have resulted in a more stressful workplace. However, the empathy and understanding of the weavers combined with their desires to produce the highest quality silk fabrics, overcame all the challenges. This example of good work ethics in practice created a positive environment for the changes to be implemented harmoniously and successfully.
In all situations, whether they are work or pleasure, Thais build relationships first and then focus on objectives. The village system of interdependence (“long kag”) provides yet another example of good work ethics. People think nothing of working very long hours attending to their friend’s needs.
Actually time is not regarded in the same way as many advanced western countries – very few houses in our village have a clock. In fact, most people would never know today’s date, let alone what time it is! What is more important is to help a friend no matter how long it takes.
There is a powerful work ethic combining “long kag” and teamwork with family, friends and neighbours often combining resources to achieve common objectives, especially in the busy rice planting and harvesting seasons.
Our relative isolation in many way forces us to work together in order to survive but it still amazes me how people will go out of their way so much to help another – a little like country towns in more modern societies where social relationships seem to be stronger.
Importance and Impact of Strong Social Bonds
These strong social bonds are continually nurtured with people avoiding conflicts or confrontations in order to preserve these important relationships.
This results in a dedicated group of workers displaying superb teamwork.
These teams often perform heavy physical labour by men and women, plus very long hours in extremely difficult weather conditions without looking for any payback. These qualities portray another outstanding example of good work ethics.
Many times you will see teams of workers returning home very late in the evening after completing 12 or 13 hours of back-breaking work. Even though very weary, people always have a smile and will be happy to stop and chat about their day. These teams of volunteers happily help out friends and neighbours with their farming requirements and in so doing, provide yet another example of good work ethics.
Recent Example of Good Work Ethics
At a recent Thai Silk Magic meeting our ·weavers had long discussions about various improvements we could bring to our natural dyeing processes.
These processes require very labour intensive and time consuming tasks, especially the searching out and gathering of the range of tree bark, flowers, plants, insects and vegetables required to make our dyes. Quite often these ingredients must be picked before the sun comes up!
Very early the following morning many bucket loads of these natural dye materials appeared as if by magic. The materials had been gathered in the middle of the night, despite the very heavy monsoon rains. We had not decided not to gather the dye materials with the extremely severe monsoon weather conditions.
However, a group of our weavers braving pouring rains and extremely windy conditions, worked throughout the night by lamp lights, trudging through mud and slush up to their thighs, dodging water snakes to collect an amazing quantity of materials. These ladies just wanted to help our Thai Silk Magic group in any way they could. I couldn’t believe it!
This wonderful act of volunteer help under such adverse conditions illustrates perfectly the meaning of nam jai and provides another example of good work ethics of our village people.
Obviously I am a very proud Thai lady and really appreciate the work ethics of our village. Of course, we have lots of challenges and problems just like everywhere else and I am not trying to make out that our village is in any way a perfect example of working relationships.
Far from it but we do get the job done with in a stress-free way, with pride and a smile on our faces!
Key Lessons of Good Work Ethics
The real meaning of good work ethics that can be seen from our village examples includes following eight key lessons:
- Have a positive attitude to work
- Ensure you retain a place for fun and relaxation in your work regime
- Show respect for the decision maker even if you disagree with the decision
- Understand that great teamwork relies on genuine interpersonal relationships
- Exercise restraint in times of stress in the workplace
- Be empathetic with your work colleagues
- Treat co-workers with sensitivity
- Be prepared to do everything you can to support an agreed project
Within our village and our Thai Silk Magic team, the strong relationship bonds, sense of fun and the ability to encourage the very best out of each other at work, provides a wonderful example of good work ethics.
Teamwork is the key and often this is determined by the type of Leadership shown.
Online Work Ethics Specialist
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Click this link to read an interesting blog post on Good Leadership Skills - it may surprise you!
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