I had a stark realization at day care drop off about a week ago. I dropped off my child, gave a cheery (as I could muster), “Good Morning,” to the teachers and other students, and absently started watching the kids playing with blocks and dinosaurs. As I watched, one child handed another a block, two others exchanged different dinosaurs, and a third helped another open a box of Legos® . What struck me is that these children were wordlessly sharing their time, effort, and toys, and everyone was the better for it. I realized that I needed to do more of this at work.
At face value, it appears in most workplaces that we already share a lot. We exchange email, text, and phone calls with information. We share news stories on customers and the competition. We share Social Media on our lives, families, and other interesting news. This is good and it needs to continue, but is it true sharing? True sharing occurs when we expend time, effort, and resources to help one or more people succeed. I realized where I thought I was sharing and that I needed to share more.
Here are 4 of my secrets for sharing more at work. These tips can help strengthen your relationships.
Secrets for Sharing #1 – Remember My Military Past. If you've ever seen a platoon or a squad on a deployment, in extreme weather, or an extended field training exercise, then you've seen true sharing in action. In the Infantry, the old adage, “travel light and freeze at night,” is a universal truth. So, at night, people share their poncho liners, food, pass cups of coffee around, and lend others extra cold weather gear all to share and help everyone out as much as possible. This does not happen because the head Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) implores others to “share more.” It happens naturally because everyone wants to help everyone else succeed.
Secrets For Sharing #2 – It Takes A Leader To Set An Example. During the early phase of the Iraq War, my planning team and I were part of an element set up in an old military headquarters that had been utterly looted. The buildings were there, but windows, toilets, HVAC systems, and everything else was gone. In this austere environment, our headquarters sergeant asked my team (as a joke, I later learned), to help out with burning human waste with diesel fuel in the blasting heat of an Iraqi summer. So, I brought out my collection of Majors and Colonels, and we took turns for a month, sharing the burden of burning waste to the uproarious cheers and clapping of the enlisted staff. The leader sets the example to start sharing.
Secrets for Sharing #3 – Communicate in Person. At work, I have started to push the keyboard aside and call people on the phones. Email, text, and other electronic forms are great for efficiency, exchanging data, and checking in. But, electronic forms of communication are very bad at actually having a conversation. So, today, I call people, talk about their projects, and ask if I can help. Then, I use email to send them the data they need. Talking to someone and listening to what they need is critical to share effectively and frequently.
Secrets for Sharing #4 – Remember It’s About The Other Person’s Goal. Sometimes, when we share, we want the other person to follow our advice and what we have learned and experienced. These are all good points, but they are not relevant. When we share, we put our knowledge and resources out there for the other person to achieve what they want to do. True sharing puts faith in helping the other person for the sheer sake of helping the other person to be successful.
Today, when you go to work, look to the advice of four year olds rather than Steve Jobs or Warren Buffett. When we share, we help others achieve their goals, communicate better, and set a great example for a team.
What are your secrets to success for sharing more at work? Leave me a comment below.
Chad Storlie is a Retired US Army Officer, the author of Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and has published 200 articles in 100 publications on career, business, strategy, education, financial planning, and national security topics. Chad excels as an author, mentor, speaker, and teacher showing business leaders and military veterans how military skills make lives, careers, and businesses better. Chad is an adjunct Professor of Marketing at Creighton University. Chad has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University. Follow Chad @CombatToCorp and www.CombatToCorporate.com.