Quick question for you today. How helpful would you say your organization is? How about your department? What about your team? Not sure what I mean by ‘how helpful’? Or maybe you’re just a little puzzled about why I’m even asking the question itself. If you are, I’m not surprised because ‘helpfulness’ isn’t something, like profitability, productivity, or efficiency, that’s commonly considered in business. I mean really, how often have you been called into a meeting to discuss progress towards ‘helpfulness’ KPIs? Probably never! However, just because ‘helpfulness’ isn’t something that most businesses currently focus on, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be. There’s a number of very good reasons why!
First of all, ‘helping’ makes people feel good. Both the people that are receiving the help, and the people who are giving the help. When people feel good they’re much happier and productive and more engaged in their work. And, what organization isn’t trying to increase their number of happier, productive and engaged employees?
Second, helping the people who work for – and with – us is a great way to model and practice the way we expect our employees to treat our customers. After all, don’t customers hire your company because they want someone to help them? Help answer their questions and help solve their problems, no matter what? And customers never want to hear the words ‘no’ or ‘I can’t’. Yet, how often do you respond to questions or requests for help from other teams and departments within your organization by saying exactly that. “No”. “Sorry, can’t do that.” “It’s not my job.” “Not my responsibility.” If you don’t model and practice helpfulness within your organization, how can you expect people to act helpfully towards your customers?
Just like anything else, being helpful is a habit. And like any other habit, the more it’s practiced, the stronger it becomes. So, if you want your organization to develop a ‘helpful’ habit, here are some suggestions!
Say yes. I know it sounds simple, but saying ‘yes’ is the easiest way to start a ‘helpful’ habit. And it works on the personal, team and organizational level. When someone asks you to do something, instead of saying ‘no’, simply say ‘yes’. Then find a way to do it, even if you aren’t sure, at the moment, how. Figuring it out will have the added benefit of helping develop creativity, and courage to do new things too!
Define what ‘helpfulness’ looks like! Again, it might sound simplistic, but if your organization doesn’t define what ‘helpful’ behaviors are, how will everyone know what to look for? How will they know what behavior to practice?
Talk about help and helping. Ask “How many people have we helped?” at meetings, and in conversations. Make the importance of ‘helpfulness’ visible. Because, the things that are focused on are the things that people see, and understand, are valued.
So, I’m going to ask you again. How helpful is your organization? If you don’t know, now is a great time to start thinking – and doing something – about it! Because the best time to start making a ‘helpful’ habit is today!