Sitting out on my deck, taking in a beautiful September day out in the country, I heard the distinctive barking of Canada geese coming my way. By the way, if you are dying to correct me with “It’s Canadian geese, not Canada geese” I can only tell you that my mother informed me it is Canada geese – and, no offense, but I’d rather please my mother than you:). As I listened to the distinctive honk I thought about the many stories I’ve read about why the geese honk. They are actually supporting each other – honking their encouragement to the leader. And when the leader of the V-formation gets tired, another goose willingly takes its place.
My question is – do we do the same for each other in the workplace? No, I’m not asking you to honk at each other – but I am asking you to help. If you see a colleague that is tired or having a bad day, step up and offer to take on one of their responsibilities. If your customer is leaving with arms full, open the door for them. If your manager is having a day full of meetings, offer to help them with some paperwork they might not get to that day. And, if you’re the one that is tired or out of ideas, be willing to drop back in formation and allow another team member to take the lead.
Have you noticed that in this tough economy people are becoming even more protective of their jobs? Relationships are strained because everyone is afraid that they might be the next person downsized. You never know what’s going to happen to your job, but I venture to guess that if you are the one that steps in to help colleagues and managers and customers, to go one extra step, you might be a less likely target for downsizing. And you know what? Let’s say your job is on the line. Let’s say you’re the next one to be replaced. Help others anyway. It’s the right thing to do.
We have a long journey to make back to recovery, and if we don’t help each other take breathers the journey is going to be exhausting. Let’s all slow down. Let’s stop trying to make the journey solo. Take advantage of the aerodynamic nature of flying in a V-formation. Draft off of each other when needed, lead when you have the energy, and drop back when you don’t.
Do unto others because it’s the right thing to do, because it will give you wind beneath your wings, and because the spirit of teamwork is what will breathe life back into our economy. Now I am going to ask you to honk – honk if you’re willing to be helpful!