Leaders, Are Your Teams Uncomfortable With Generosity?
by Kate Nasser |
Leaders, if you interviewed a potential employee with great skills and an exceedingly generous spirit, would you hire them? Would the existing team members be thrilled? Collaborating freely, giving 110%, supporting in difficult times — what’s not to like?
Generosity as a trait sure sounds like a dream come true.
Then why have I witnessed so many negative reactions to generosity in the workplace? This issue is worth exploring. It affects employee engagement, teamwork, talent retention, future hiring, and of course — end results.
Image by Howard Lake via Creative Commons License.
Generosity as a personal and professional trait takes those who display it and their organizations quite far.
- Generosity lifts others up with ideas, information, resources, empathy and strength.
- It paints a portrait of “we” instead of just “me”.
- It develops everyone through the shared knowledge of each.
- It fills gaps at just the right time to reach any goal.
- It should breed the ultimate in collaboration and teamwork.
Uh-oh, back up. How did that should get in there?
Leaders and managers want to believe that a generous spirit breeds positive feelings and similarly generous reactions. And it surely can. But dreaming alone doesn’t make it universally so.
In truth, generosity can also:
- Breed mistrust in those who haven’t worked with generous team players. e.g. “Are they for real?”
- Ignite envy in those who haven’t yet tapped their own generous spirit or who burned it out. e.g. “Who do they think they are?”
- Stir resentment among team members who think the generous ones are raising the performance bar. e.g. “Stop, you’re making us look bad.”
- Awaken fear that generous team members will win promotions and perks over them. e.g. “They aren’t generous, they are kissing up.”
Leaders, You Can Cultivate the Benefits of Workplace Generosity
- Question yourself. Do you truly believe in collaboration or are you grounded in a competitive spirit? Collaborative cultures fuel generous spirits and generous people sustain a collaborative approach to success. Competitive team cultures can deliver success yet they can stifle workplace generosity and collaboration. Which culture do you want? Which one is your leadership style and your actions creating?
- Assess the team’s makeup. How well do the team members balance individual and team needs? Do they each think their main goal is to shine as they do their job? Are they all natural collaborators, competitors, or a mix? These work styles must blend to reach success and your leadership can foster this blend of me and we.
- Explore and discuss culture. Don’t assume. Leaders and teams falter when they assume everyone naturally balances me and we. Team building that raises and addresses this issue delivers a boost to team results.
- Be generous. Do you have a generous spirit? Do you give employees kudos on a regular basis or live the maxim, no news is good news? Being generous with your insight, knowledge, and feedback does more than model generosity. It spreads the culture as the teams realize how great generosity feels and how much it delivers to morale and to end results. Related post: 12 Worthy Kudos to Spark Employee Engagement
- Have the teams define what generosity is and isn’t. Is it offering help? Or is it helping only when asked? Is it jumping in and doing what you can even if it is defined another team member’s responsibility? What is the difference between generosity and intrusiveness? For teams who are learning collaboration, this step is the turning point.
- Find and remove the disincentives to generosity. If you want a generous collaborative culture, team rewards must be as significant and individual rewards. Make teamwork a tangible element of performance reviews. If you talk about collaboration, applaud it and decry self-serving actions. If you overlook it or make excuses for it, you will thwart the culture and undermine their trust in you.
- From your experience, what is #7?
Generosity in the workplace is not just for non-profits. A culture of generosity magnifies your employee engagement efforts with the daily spirit of giving and collaboration.
Generous spirits break down silos and build bridges to new outcomes. They spread knowledge. Generous leaders and team members create a positive vibe that propels success especially in tough times of change.
Imagine an organization of knowledgeable, experienced, highly engaged, generous teams. Guess what — it can be real! Let’s make it happen together. I am here to help you as I have so many others.
From my professional experience to your success,
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™
©2012 Kate Nasser, CAS, Inc. Somerville, NJ. If you want to re-post or republish this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for respecting intellectual capital.
Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach™, delivers coaching, consulting, training, and keynotes on leading change, employee engagement, teamwork, and delivering the ultimate customer service. She turns interaction obstacles into interpersonal success. See this site for workshop outlines, keynote footage, and customer results.