May 25, 2018

Jobseekers: Sign In | Sign Up Recruiters
  InFocus Newsletter Newsletter archives

Share this article:
Bookmark and Share

The Dependent vs. Independent Employee

Conceptual extremes help us build a framework for better understanding. The two extremes in this article are human extremes -- opposites that we all have seen and experienced.

Of course the real world is not so kind as to give us neatly bound packages of understanding. There are too many gray areas, too many twilight zones and just plain holes in our limited capabilities. Trying to put something like the human mind in a framework is not only futile but also agonizingly frustrating. Employees are people and people are complex beings. As we look across various types of behaviors and attitudes it is important we try to begin to make some sense. Dependence and Independence are admittedly labels. Despite all the asterisks, here are some observations on dependent and independent employees:

  • The dependent employee feels entitled to a paycheck. The independent employee feels he earns a paycheck by bringing value to the company.

  • Dependent employees are happy with the status quo while independents are on the prowl for improvement and opportunity.

  • Dependent employees downplay their lost opportunities of the past; independents have taken advantage of opportunities many times.

  • Dependent employees come to work because they have to; independent employees are interested, driven and optimistic.

  • Dependent employees see us vs. them; independent employees see us and us.

  • Dependent employees are defensive; independent employees are interested in increased responsibilities.

  • Dependent employees feel they are constantly being exploited; independent employees know value.

  • The dependent employee is mired in the status quo; the independent employee is challenged and has suggestions and ideas.

  • The dependent employee views his work history as a series of exploitations and bad luck; the independent employee sees his planned career as the realization of personal ambition.

  • The dependent employee has years of experience; the independent employee has years of self-improvement.

  • The dependent employee's goals are vacation and retirement; the independent employee's goal is success.

  • The dependent employee allows personal problems to interfere with work performance; the independent employee takes care of his personal life so he can focus when working.

  • The dependent employee disrupts workflow when upset or unhappy; the independent employee states the problem to management and offers to help resolve it.

  • Dependent employees shun anything outside their job description; independent employees make good sound decisions that are in the company's best interest.

Perhaps the contrasts are a bit exaggerated. Yet the point still is very clear -- those employees that are mean-spirited and selfish bring the company little value. A clear thinking, motivated independent employee will constantly have the company's best interest at heart. These two extremes are worlds apart and bring very different business results!

-Jack Deal
Owner of Deal Consulting
He can be reached at or 831-457-8806.