Working style – TBF (Tough But Fair)

Credit: The idea was first exposed to me in a Piers Anthony novel, Golem In the Gears (Xanth series). Delightful books full of puns, if you’re into that sort of thing.


Out at work, one has to learn to look out for oneself. No one else is going to stand up for you all the time. All too often, the corporate environment dictates that maximum effort be reaped from the employee, and minimum reward be given in order to harvest the highest possible output. This is why we have laws on overtime pay, minimum wages and so on, just so that sweatshop bosses have their hands tied.

How then, are we supposed to work? Do we just do the barest minimum of what is required and leave it at that? I’m never the kind to subscribe to something like this. At work, it’s all about giving your all and doing the best possible job you can. How do we gauge the situation however, so that we do not get abused?

This is where TBF (Tough But Fair) comes in. I liken it to using a mirror where the actions are reflected in kind.

  • If you have an understanding boss who appreciates your work and does his best to cut corners and make life better for you, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t give your all.
  • On the other hand, employers that treat you like a slave and demand you take on as much work as possible “because the company is not doing well” and that “the situation will be reviewed in six months or so”? Watch out. This is where you should learn to watch out for yourself, and understand you need to take a firm stance for yourself.

In summary it means this:

Always give your best. If your employer is a good one, keep it up. Should your boss be a slavedriver, repay it in kind.

One good turn deserves another, and if you are under a manager with no concept of two-way loyalty, he deserves to be ditched or repaid with what he is sowing. Loyalty begets loyalty, so if you are ever in a position to handle others, bear this in mind.

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