27 September 2023

Go with the flow: How helping hands raise the tide of productivity

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Laura Stack* says those willing to go the extra mile to help their co-workers will eventually support their own productivity.

Does a rising tide really lift all boats, as former United States President, John F. Kennedy once famously claimed?

Politicians like to say so, at least in reference to their favoured brand of economics.

Cynics have pointed out many exceptions — you could be stuck in the mud; your boat could be full of holes or overloaded with idiots.

You don’t have a boat; or someone torpedoes your boat.

Whatever your economics, there are always some people who can’t keep their heads above water in a particular ‘rising tide’ economy.

That said, in the workaday world where people interact in good faith, a rising tide of social cooperation does lift all boats.

In combination with talent, training, and hard work, helping your co-workers may be your best path to maximising your performance.

Befriending and bonding with team members, being a team player, and cheerfully contributing your help when others need it can enhance your own productivity.

This is how you do this.

Boosting motivation:

A simple feeling of belonging can improve your morale, making you willing to work harder and accomplish more in a given amount of time.

This is the very definition of increased productivity.

Knowing you’re appreciated and supported in your assigned role, based on your own actions and reliability, can also increase your motivation.

Triggering the Benjamin Franklin Effect:

Founding United States Father, Ben Franklin once said this:

“We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly, we will all hang separately.”

He demonstrated by asking a friend to break a thick bundle of sticks in half.

The man couldn’t do it.

Franklin then showed him how even a child could accomplish it: He untied the bundle and broke each stick one by one.

Working to build a solid teamwork relationship where everyone helps each other allows you to support each other and build trust and confidence.

Lightening the overall load so you can focus on performance:

Willingness to help others when needed ensures you also get help when you’re overwhelmed.

Many hands really do make light work, allowing you to whittle down mountainous projects quickly and efficiently, leaving you more time to produce more.

At an emotional level, having plenty of help also decreases mental stress.

Filling your emotional needs as you build relationships:

Everyone needs friends at work.

We all feel better when we have the companionship of people we like and who like us; and we’re more willing to do nice things for them.

That includes working hard for them and helping them.

If you can extend this to the whole team, you’re more likely to end up pushing your own productivity higher.

Fostering creativity and risk-taking:

You can succeed without being creative in your work or taking healthy calculated risks, but growth is much slower.

It’s harder to hit peak performance.

Thinking around corners and taking a few chances can put you ahead by leaps rather than by baby steps.

When your co-workers have your back with new ideas and support, it’s more likely to succeed when put in front of senior leadership.

It’s easier to take chances and generate increased team creativity when you offset your weaknesses with others’ strengths, and vice versa.

Encouraging engagement:

The happier you are at work, the more likely you are to fully engage with your job.

When you fully engage, your sense of ownership for your job increases.

If you own your job, you’ll work harder, spiking your productivity.

It’s a simple equation, easily proven; but for some reason, it’s hard for most organisations to wrap their heads around and implement effectively.

At first glance, it may sound odd to make benefitting your co-workers a priority, but it benefits you just as much if you take it seriously.

Social lubrication is crucial in any workplace.

Will some people take advantage of you? Of course.

However, it’s up to you to choose how you act, just as you’d drive defensively to protect yourself on the road.

Actively working to benefit your co-workers is the key to increasing your own job performance, productivity, and even status.

* Laura Stack is a speaker and author specialising in productivity and performance. She has written seven books, including her latest: Doing the Right Things Right: How the Effective Executive Spends Time. She can be contacted at theproductivitypro.com.

This article first appeared on Laura’s blogsite.

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