How Productivity is Increased by Small Positive Gestures – Part One
No matter where we are in the hierarchy of our jobs, we all need to feel appreciated. Giving or receiving appreciative gestures is a way of empowering ourselves that costs nothing. Plenty of people in the workplace – irrespective of their seniority or the opposite – don’t feel like they belong. Take employees. No matter how welcoming and new-employee-friendly the company, recently hired employees may feel they’re constantly being judged and found wanting. Until they have had a chance to settle in, they can feel highly insecure. On the flip side, over half of CEOs report feeling lonely in their roles.
One of the most important ways to show you care about your job is to demonstrate your care for those around you at work. Taking time to help others when they’re overworked, showing acts of kindness, or even just offering to do a coffee run are small gestures on their own, but all add up over time.
Practice intentional listening at work to show that you care. Ask follow-up questions after someone tells you something and show them you are actually listening with active body signals like nodding your head. Find out what aggravates your co-workers and do what you can to reduce those things. If it bothers people that you eat your lunch at your desk, consider going to the lunchroom.
What other simple things can you do to make the workday easier, more inclusive, and ultimately, more productive? Well, you could try getting names right. Sound simple doesn’t it? But how often do people botch your name in conversation, emails and meetings? For those of you with homonym names (Jaime vs. Jamie) or foreign pronunciations, it happens all the time. In diverse and large organisations, the mistakes become excusable and acceptable because they happen so often.
But that’s exactly why it’s important to not get caught in the trap and to do what you can to get names right. It’s a big, easy step toward building mutual respect with your colleagues. This is more apparent when you’re in a dysfunctional work environment where people see everyone else as just a job title.
A simple ‘How can I help?’ can go quite a long way. These are possibly the most welcome four words many people could hear at work. ‘How can I help?’. It’s such a simple sentence but one that could have a profound impact on the recipient and one whose ripple effects could have such lasting consequences. And it’s true today more than ever. Many of us spend the day in front of a screen, more than likely at home alone; literally a barrier to human contact. We’ve become so out of practice with human interaction, that when it arrives, our gut reaction is to see it as an interruption. People are swamped with work and emails. And just when they settle down to get something done, a colleague calls. People tend to push these interruptions away in order to focus on the ‘real work.’ But these brief interactions and small gestures are the real work today and they will be increasingly so, the more isolated we become. We need to be present for these moments in a powerful way and be as helpful as we can be. Remember, Zoom doesn’t just have to be for work meetings. You’re still entitled to a break, so Zoom a friend for 10 minutes.
Don’t be afraid to ask for something. You can’t know everything, even when you’re the owner of a business, and reaching out to others with questions is a sign of strength, not weakness. Business owners often routinely ask their accountant or lawyer to review work before they make it public to avoid legal problems. Department heads might seek confirmation from executive management before rolling out a procedure for their employees. Don’t be afraid to ask your colleagues to proofread a document for you, ask peers how certain situations are handled at their companies, conduct research to confirm you’re on the right path or get permission to go ahead with an idea you have. People like to be asked their opinion and will be typically glad to help you.
Next time, we’ll take a look at some more small gestures that make a big impact.