I am guessing that most of us are all familiar with the terms “be-ers” vs. “doers.” For those that are not, think about people that we have heard say, “I want to BE a manager” or “I want to BE a board member.” Truth be told, many of us have probably said the same thing, “I want to BE a [fill in the blank]” at one time or another. It is however one thing to want to BE something, but the issue is, often times some individuals treat titles and positions like the final destination. Once they achieve that title or position, they then make the mistake of thinking that their work is now complete. I would consider these individuals to be “be-ers.” (Editor’s Note: I use the dash in the term “be-er” so as not to confuse the reader with one of Milwaukee’s finest malt beverages!)
On the other hand, a “doer” is someone that actually wants to do the job when they finally achieve that title or position. “I want to DO the job of managing” or “I want to DO my part as an effective board member.” The difference may seem slight, but the outcomes of each term is clearly not.
For example, based upon the abysmal approval ratings of our elected officials at the state and federal levels, this may be a very illustrative example of “too many ‘be-ers’” and “not enough ‘doers’” in action. As I watch political ads on TV (yes, as an admitted political wonk, these are usually the only commercials I do not zip past on the DVR!) I hear men and women from both major parties and from all walks of life promise to “do this” and “do that” if elected. However, once elected, some (not all) feel that their job is done once they get the title of Congressman / Congresswoman, Senator, President, etc. and we often then don’t hear the verb “DO” again until the next campaign or election cycle.
How many of you have also noticed this observation in your workplace? I have worked for many organizations in many industries, and to this day, I can remember the “doers” in each organization, while most of the “be-ers” often fade from memory. Going back to one of my first jobs as a teenager working “under the golden arches”, the “doer” managers were the ones that remember took the time to provide me with feedback, showed me how to do things correctly and efficiently, taught me that down time meant “time to lean means time to clean”, and ensured that a positive and energized work environment existed. However, one “be-er” that I do recall, who also made sure everyone knew that he was a SWING MANAGER (whatever that was), I watched him more than once take work time to carefully trap houseflies in his office, spray some bug spray into the office, and then sit and watch through his office door window as the insects fell to their final demise. This was of course only when he wasn’t “busy” trying to score a date with one of the new female employees. (NOTE: I was years away from my first HR job, yet somehow, I already knew that this was not acceptable workplace behavior I was witnessing!)
These types of experiences were not limited only to my entry-level type work experiences, but also as I moved on to various, what many would consider “more professional” work environments, where it became even more and more about achieving, a title, level, or the corner office rather than about actual work and accomplishments. The “be-ers” seemed to rule many of these workplaces. In some instances, I often wondered how the organization continued to survive, sometimes with five or six “be-ers” to every one “doer.” It did make those “doers” that I encountered even more memorable and supportive throughout my career. I often imagined how great each organization could have been with a just a few more “doers.”
Unfortunately, I do not have a simple answer for how to address this in both workplace and in life. We can individually look in our own mirrors and decide for ourselves what we choose to be, either a “be-er” or a “doer.” In doing so, we may also need to choose to do our part to motivate and demonstrate to others how to be a “doer.”
While over the years I have been blessed with many titles and positions that I have been proud of, I am fairly confident that most people that I have encountered would consider me a “doer” rather than a “be-er.” Ideally, it should not be something that should need to consciously decide to do, but rather just be a part of doing the right thing. I have always tried to approach each new position first by making a quick assessment of what is it I can do in the role to make a difference, be effective, and serve others. For me, that is just a simple way to ensure that when I show up for work, I am choosing to be a “doer.”
Therefore, while it might take plenty of work and effort to eventually achieve that goal to BE an astronaut, scientist, or even a human resources manager, the most important aspect of any position should occur when you actually DO the job, no matter what your title is.
My advice….Drink a beer and…BE A “DOER!”