Showing Support for Your Team through Acts of Service

When’s the last time you felt overwhelmed or lost while working on a project – perhaps even paralyzed because you were unsure of your next step? Have others offered “let me know if you need help,” but you haven’t even known what to ask for, or perhaps been too embarrassed to ask? Now think back to a time when a colleague, or friend, or teammate has – without asking – come alongside you with practical tools or actions that have helped you to become unstuck and moved you forward. For some people, notes of gratitude make all the difference in feeling seen and known. For others – or in other situations – actions speak louder than words.

Many of the skills I’ve developed over the years have come from a combination of research, practice, and practical guidance and support from those who are experienced in that skill. Those people being willing to share their wisdom and experience have made all the difference. Howard Gardner, whose theory of Multiple Intelligences has revolutionized educational models over the last forty years, argues that apprenticeships should be a core component of educational practice for exactly the same reason; someone with expertise and wisdom can support the learning of a new skill through interpersonal connection and iteration. So why don’t we support each other in practical ways all the time? The culture in some workplaces can be proprietary in nature; if someone feels credit has been taken from them unfairly, they are more likely to withhold knowledge or resources that would be helpful to other people. I have experienced this myself, and worked with several organizations where this has been true also. To build authentic community, though, we need to be the change we wish to see in the world.

Sometimes these acts of service don’t have to be skill-based to show practical support. It might be bringing in baked goods for an in-person team to encourage taking a break and enjoying a few minutes of relaxed treats. Focusing on well-being for your team as a whole, and for each individual on your team, gives practical support in ways that are less tangible, but equally meaningful.

What acts of service will you do for your team this week?

This Week’s Tip:

Consider supporting your team – and one or two individuals – through an act of service this week. This might be a different act depending on the people. In some cases it might be sharing a resource, a tip, or a how-to tutorial. In other cases, it might be buying a coffee or personal treat that you know someone likes. As much as possible, tailor the act of service to the unique individual this is for. Pay attention to their reaction and use this as feedback for future acts of service for the same person and for others.

Try this out this week, and let us know how it goes in our Facebook group! We’d love to hear from you.

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Published by Ian Jackson

Ian Jackson is the founder of Building Bridges Leadership, which works with individuals, teams, and organizations to create authentic community in the workplace. He also writes children's fiction and teaches creative writing.

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