Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Helping others with challenges, part of Connecting with Peers in the Workplace (2014).
- When you want to make a great connection there are many social behaviors that help. One of the classics is helping behaviors. By helping behaviors I’m referring to things you do for others when they need assistance that you don’t have to do. Ideally, you’re doing them to be kind, and because you feel it’s the right way to behave, but the point is it’s volunteer work intended to benefit others. It’s not required or part of your job description and these types of behaviors are typically not directly rewarded. By the way, you should care about helping behaviors not just because they might be useful to you and your colleagues on a personal level.
Research suggests that when we see higher levels of helping behaviors we tend to see more successful teams in organizations, so in many ways it turns out that being helpful actually improves performance. There are several forms of helping behavior I’d like you to consider. The first and the most simple is checking in. By checking in I’m referring to interrupting and speaking to someone randomly without any knowledge of their need. You’re just signaling your desire to help should it be needed. If they do great, if they don’t well they sure know who to look to later when the need arises.
Next, is the time you actually see someone in need. They’re scrambling around, stressed out, and in general appear to be hurried or even in a panic. If it’s possible, step up and offer assistance. Use your expertise or your time to get them passed this tough spot. They’re likely to pay you back in spades later. Another great example is volunteering when a peer or a supervisor openly asks the team for help. There might be a special order that just has to go out over the weekend, or a volunteer committee being assembled to address some companywide issue, or it could be as simple as volunteers needed to plan an upcoming holiday celebration.
One of my favorite helping behaviors is advocating, or positively representing one of your teammates to others when your teammates not around. Let’s say you’re at a company function talking to an executive, and based on the topic you’re discussing you find a great opening to share one of your colleague’s recent wins. You know a related helping behavior is actually connecting your peers with others who might need their assistance or share their interests. Let’s say you’re talking to a manager outside of your group, and realize one of your teammates can help them with a problem they’re facing.
It’s as easy as saying, “Hey do you know Jacob Williams?” Then you make a note to reach out later, and send them your colleagues contact information, or you can even actively connect them yourself over coffee or online via email or maybe LinkedIn. Of course, a classic helping behavior is simply explaining things to others when you know or suspect they don’t quite understand something. You might be dealing with some technical aspect of work, or possibly sitting next to them in a training session. Not understanding something can be a headache, and you can get rid of it for them with a great explanation.
Finally, sometimes one of the best helping behaviors is just being a good listener. Many times people aren’t looking for assistance or an explanation, they just want someone to hear them. The process of getting a few things off their chest can be terribly therapeutic, and all you have to do is sit quietly and respectfully listen. Helping behaviors really are about going the extra mile when you don’t really have to. They’re the hallmark of great colleagues, and they result in stronger relationships. More of other people advocating for you, and more helping behaviors directed towards you.
In short, they build strong connections.