Each of us has an opportunity to make our workplaces—not to mention our homes and communities—better by being a more helpful contributor ourselves and inspiring it in others. In other words, we can create a better world and life for ourselves and those around us if we become more giving and service focused. But mention of this raises eyebrows—not sure why people get skeptical about helpfulness but it’s true and something to be addressed in another post—and questions about how to go about it. To help answer those question, here are four steps you can take.
Step one in being more service focused and influencing more of it in your workplace culture is to cultivate your own service mindset. Get clear, just about everything we do is about service—or helping others. Think about the work you do, is it for you or for someone else? Usually, you are providing things for co-workers, your boss, or customers. Even mundane things you do around the house, most are not for you, a few may be, but most are for your partner, spouse, or children. A vast majority of our lives is wrapped around service and we don’t even recognize it. We bring value, sometimes in the smallest ways, throughout our days. We are service creatures and by regularly reflecting on this, you can keep service a conscious priority.
Step two is to begin actively looking for opportunities to help others, not to be a nuisance but to be an actual contributor to someone else’s success. The opportunities are all around if you open your eyes. It can be as simple as opening the door for someone whose hands are full or as complicated as editing a major report for a co-worker. I once worked a job where service was front and center in the organization. On my first day, my new boss talked about the importance of serving customers and how, in this company, everyone tries to say yes whenever possible. He told me that helping others will become second nature after a while both at work and in my personal life. He said I would find myself helping people with their groceries at the store and jumping to hold doors without thinking about it. He was right. It happened. I found myself—and still do—helping people all around me by just staying aware and jumping at the chance to help whenever possible.
The third step is to subtly inspire others to develop a helping mindset by recognizing their efforts. When someone is helpful to you, say something, give them a hearty “thank you,” send an email, give them a handwritten note, just be grateful and let them know it. When you see someone being helpful or hear about it, let that person know you think their helpfulness is great. You don’t have to go overboard, just a simple “I think the way you helped Susan was fantastic, I am inspired,” will send the message. When people get that little boost of oxytocin—the feel-good chemical Mother Nature uses to create more human bonds—they will be motivated to be helpful again. With your little appreciative recognition, you will be prompting a more helpful community.
The final step is to continually improve how you deliver what you deliver. While you should always stay on top of your technical game by developing your skills and knowledge, you should also continually improve the friendliness of the product you deliver. What this means is thinking about how easy and hassle-free you make things. If you are delivering a report, is it easy to read, did you provide a key, are there directions? If you made a schedule, did you ensure it accommodates everyone fairly, is it easy to understand? The things you deliver need to be of service and make the lives of the recipients better, otherwise, it is just more of a pain and no one needs more pain. Think of the person or people you are helping and deliver the work for them that you would want delivered to you.
Four steps to being more service focused and building more of it in those around you:
- Cultivate your own service-focused mindset
- Look for and take opportunities to be helpful
- Recognize the helpfulness of others
- Deliver help that is not only functional but friendly
Now, you know what to do …get to work!
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