How Can I Help?

Woman lying on work papers, exhausted with words How Can I Help?

How can I help?
We have heard this phrase over and over again. It is an opening line for sales personnel, phone help lines, wait staff, and more. It gets right to the point.

So, tell me, when is the last time you heard, “How Can I Help” from your manager at your workplace? Or, how often have you asked your staff and the members of your team what they need to make their job a little easier?

It may be time to ask ourselves if we are offering the kind of support that helps those around us to feel confident, thrive, and contribute their best selves.

Feeling Unnoticed and Unappreciated

“You need to be aware of what others are doing, applaud their efforts, acknowledge their successes, and encourage them in their pursuits. When we all help one another, everybody wins.”

– Jim Stovall

Headlines in the news recount stories of employers not only losing workers at high rates but also being unable to fully staff their businesses. A report by titled, Are you at increased risk for employee turnover in 2022? explains the fallout,

“Called the Great Resignation, Great Reshuffle, or Great Reevaluation, people in 2021 and 2022 are keener than ever to expect higher pay, a more mature and consistent approach to pay raises, growth potential, workplace flexibility, and a work culture that values the wellbeing of employees.”

It is apparent that the potential employee today is asking for leadership to step up and create a better work environment if they want to attract and maintain a stable and healthy workforce. The interesting thing to note is that managers can be both victimizers and victims in this scenario. They may not be giving the support their staff needs AND they may not be receiving that same help from their corporate leadership.

Another aspect that has affected the availability of attaining a fully staffed workforce is the presence of the pandemic. At the start, people were laid off and/or began to work from home. Some realized they could provide the same services themselves and have a more flexible work and home life. Some spent their time exploring new opportunities. New small businesses were born and fewer people returned to the office or the sales floor after restrictions eased.

Burnout, which has always been a factor in job satisfaction, rose to new heights in the pandemic years as businesses tried to navigate all the necessary changes that came with surviving the fluctuating economy. Staff were left on the receiving end of yet another Zoom meeting announcing the latest pivot. Most were unprepared and unsupported for all the changes sent their way. Many re-evaluated what was of the most significance to them, and often, their current job was not on that list.

Appreciation, Retention, and a Healthy Workplace

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”

– Voltaire

If you want to keep your employees or have satisfaction in your own job, there are a number of things you can do.

To start, you can show gratitude for both big achievements and small things.

Here in Minnesota, we are often said to be a little reserved in showing our emotions. While I don’t agree, I have chuckled at the joke about the Minnesota man who loved his wife so much – he ALMOST told her! How would you like to be that very loved spouse who never hears just how much they are appreciated? Your team members at work also need personal validation. Be vocal and say thank you along with sharing the specifics of what you value in them—as well as the impact they are having. Don’t just say “Great presentation,” articulate more such as, “I loved your presentation today. The way you embedded team stories and highlighted others’ accomplishments simultaneously gave great recognition to others, while illuminating the culture we are building. Thank you for your support of these efforts to maintain a meaningful culture and retain staff!”

For the most part, we are all trying to do our best. It may seem to come easier to some but everyone has their struggles. Authors of the book Leading with Gratitude: Eight Leadership Practices for Extraordinary Business Results explain it this way, “Workers want and need to know their work is appreciated. Showing gratitude to employees is the easiest, fastest, most inexpensive way to boost performance.”

Happy employees are more motivated. They take more risks. They are less wary of asking questions and, they tend to stay in their jobs!

In a McKinsey report, Decoding leadership: What really matters, being supportive was at the top of the list of effective leadership behaviors. One of the highly valued methods of giving support is demonstrating follow-through. Follow-through can be manifested by the manager spending time with groups or individuals while listening, allaying fears, and instilling confidence and inspiration. In other words, showing an authentic interest in helping them to be successful. Workers feeling accomplished in their jobs will have a better sense of what they contribute and are more likely to feel job satisfaction.

Supportive Leadership

“My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society”

– Larry Page, Google Co-Founder

A tool that can help your business attain strategic goals is the practice of Supportive Leadership. The Corporate Finance Institute defines supportive leadership this way,

“Supportive leadership is a leadership style where a manager does not simply delegate tasks and receive results but instead supports an employee until the task’s completion. A major upside to supportive leadership is that the manager will work with the employee until he or she is empowered and skilled enough to handle tasks with minimal supervision in the future.”

A supportive leader invests time and effort in their workforce so the whole team feels valued, which boosts productivity and job satisfaction. They encourage teamwork by getting in there and getting involved in what their employees are doing for the company. They make expectations clear while also supplying the tools and training that will make those expectations achievable.

A Quick Self-Check on How to Bring Support

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

– Socrates

Leadership is an ever-evolving skill. When I wrote 5 Senses for Success: Strategies to Thrive in Any Arena, I made a clear connection on how relationships are the foundation for success in countless areas of our lives. We have the ability to nurture relationships in many, many ways. You can begin by making it a practice to do a little inventory of relationships in your workplace. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Do I merely offer my opinions on the work of others or do I ask for their suggestions as well as feedback on my own performance?
  • Am I familiar with what my employees and co-workers value in their personal lives?
  • Do I actively listen for cues that someone may need more help or guidance on a task I have assigned?
  • Is all of my feedback a correction or some kind of ‘to-do’ list, or do I offer positive ideas and praise as part of my conversation with employees?
  • When was I last proactive in stopping by to check on how things are going for an employee or simply dropping them a positive note of encouragement?
  • Do staff feel comfortable coming to me with issues they are facing or do I have to hear things through the grapevine?
  • Do I understand what motivates each of the members of my team?

More Benefits of Supporting Others

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”

– Albert Schweitzer

There is a false impression that spending time on employee satisfaction will take away from time needed to just ‘get the work done.’ What is often forgotten is that there is a price paid for concentrating on just the task and not the person doing the work. It costs a lot less to train a current, experienced worker than to recruit, hire, and onboard new employees. It also costs in the quality of work produced by a stressed workforce.

And it goes beyond the importance of fair pay, a physically safe environment, and non-discriminatory hiring practices. Those elements are definitely crucial to a healthy workplace, however, here a few more factors to consider when deciding if it is worth the effort to make changes in your work environment.

People feel supported when they …

  • make positive connections with others
  • are allowed to make mistakes
  • have flexible work environments
  • feel they make a difference
  • have a safe avenue to share suggestions and grievances
  • have opportunities to learn new skills and advance
  • see their managers getting involved in the day-to-day business

Ideas like developing an employee retention program and offering mental health days (outside of allowed PTO) are becoming popular. They are great examples of employee-centered actions that require thought and follow-through from company leadership.

The Maverick Syndrome

“Only the foolish would think that wisdom is something to keep locked in a drawer. Only the fearful would feel empowerment is something best kept to oneself, or the few, and not shared with all.”

– Rasheed Ogunlaru

Many books and movies portray the maverick businessperson who slaves away in solitude ending in this amazing payoff of a multi-billion dollar empire. Nice, huh? Realistic…no. Even Steve Jobs wasn’t alone in that garage in Los Altos when Apple was conceived.

You already know you don’t have to ‘go it alone.’ I’d bet a good number of you have been part of a mastermind group, or perhaps you have participated in a brainstorming session or a think tank. These things have one very important thing in common, they require input from multiple people to generate new ideas and find ways to unblock and move forward. They are an avenue for accepting AND giving support. An unspoken benefit of this group interaction is that when we get together to share our unique gifts, we increase our knowledge base and show respect for the wisdom of others.

Take this moment to picture a personal coach or mentor who has made a difference in your life. Then, picture how different things may have been had you not received the support they gave you. Next, picture yourself as that mentor to someone who needs a hand at work.

Now, explore the ways you can be a solid foundation and create a safe and prosperous work environment for others. And don’t forget to ask for the help you need! Support is a two-way street.

#JuliGeskepeer, #HowCanIHelp, #activelistening, #supportiveleadership, #humanconnection, #workerretention, #Success, #2022success, #successinanyarena, #successfulleaders, #leadership, #juligeskepeerauthor


Award-Winning Finalist in the 2022 International Book Awards!

This book is written for anyone who wants to make a difference in their own life and the lives of others. Using your 5 senses effectively, you can become the leader that makes the world a better place. Please take a moment to explore my book, 5 Senses for Success: Strategies to Thrive in Any Arena. I am very proud to share these approaches and truly achievable practices that were born out of my own life and career experiences and strategic research. Each of us has it within us to achieve success and create healthier relationships within ourselves and with others

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Juli Geske Peer is a leadership, relationship, and accountability strategist whose professional credentials include two academic degrees, mediator training, train-the-trainer certification, two coaching certifications, numerous other learning and certification accomplishments, and now, author!

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