Dec09

The benefits of helping each other

A culture of helping each other contributes more to productivity than you could imagine, according to a recent report by McKinsey.

Post 9/11, a team of Harvard psychologists investigated the US intelligence network for effectiveness, and to isolate the most important factors that contribute to a group’s effectiveness.

After analysing various standard factors (stability of teams, the right-size teams, the vision, the mission statement, well-defined roles, rewards and recognition and leadership, to name a few), the Harvard team found that the critical factor was how much help team members gave each other.

“In the highest-performing teams, analysts invested extensive time and energy in coaching, teaching, and consulting with their colleagues.”[1]

If you think about it for a minute, it makes sense. If you and your colleagues are constantly sharing information and sharing skills, you’ll find it easier to solve problems, you’ll form better trust bonds, upskill new employees more quickly (so they’re productive sooner) and produce work of overall better quality because the load is shared.

The level of a ‘helping culture’ in an organisation has been shown to be a strong predictor in all types of productivity: sales revenues in retail; costs and customer service in banks; creativity in consulting and engineering firms.

So why aren’t more companies encouraging this behaviour of generosity?

The rigid structure

Well, it comes down to corporate culture, how employees are rewarded, and the structure by which they’re rewarded.

Most large organisations now work on an individual ranking system. Individuals must compete constantly to improve their ranking to the detriment of colleagues.

To allow a ‘giving’ culture to thrive, employees need assurance that ALL their efforts are considered, especially when they’re giving their time and resources to help a colleague. The overall success of the team, not just the contribution of an individual, should be factored in.

Random acts of help

The corporate culture needs to foster the concept of asking for help, and also giving help unconditionally. In many large corporations, employees hesitate to ask for help for fear of looking incompetent or downright foolish. However, it’s the ‘dumb questions’ that most often spark innovation. As well, a workforce that is actively engaged in helping each other is more satisfied, has a better sense of community and, overall, better productivity and customer relations.

Our contribution

Building on this sense of community, Anista has developed numerous feedback mechanisms for the benefits it offers their clients, giving users a voice and a means of improving the product/service quality, delivery standard and relevance of the benefits offered. It’s not good enough, in todays competitive environment, for Human Resources to simply hand out benefits without a proactive means of measuring/benchmarking feedback that would ensure benefits are valued by both employers, employees and family.

The results, so far, are clear: to get, you need to give.

Resource

A recent report by McKinsey

 



[1] McKinsey Quarterly Member Edition: Givers take all: The hidden dimension of corporate culture.

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