Being Of Genuine Service To Your Colleagues

Being Of Genuine Service To Your Colleagues

It is an unfortunate reality in today’s workplaces that there is a huge impediment that effects forward momentum, workplace relationships, and workplace culture: Hidden Agendas. Most people have them and when you possess one, you are often working in within a selfish silo. You are placing your objectives over that of the organization and your colleagues. You are prioritizing your agenda over the agenda you were hired to drive. Hidden agendas disrupt to business growth and leadership reputations – in an extremely negative way.

Today, it can sometimes seem as if most leaders have become exceedingly skilled at learning to work without revealing|communicating their true intention(s). As a result, too many workers are executing objectives of their roles without understanding the ultimate goals and desired outcomes to the business strategy. Most workplaces are lousy with distrust and dishonesty. Many people feel exposed and vulnerable when working with others that possess a hidden agenda – believe it or not, [even though those that have one may think they have it under wraps], hidden agendas are just as visible as, if not more so, than an actual “to-do” agenda that person may have out in the open during a meeting or in their office.

Our personal stories and relationship narratives grow out of the labels we assign ourselves – which is what we create and walk around with that defines our actions. Our objectives and agendas are tightly woven in with our personal stories. Which is why for those that have a hidden agenda, this rarely includes helping others unless it can elevate their reputation. When we don’t possess a hidden agenda we are able to consistently open ourselves up to new possibilities outside what we believe we know, stay open to new trajectories, relationships, and discover new solutions, we become open the nuances of life and all of it’s exciting opportunities.

I will admit, I have no time for people with hidden agendas, even ones that are relatively harmless. When I discover that people possess this, I immediately know they lack integrity. I refuse to align myself with this type of person, personally or professionally. I am excited and driven by the unknown, living outside the status quo, and being open to unique and uncertain opportunities and experiences. People who have hidden agendas can’t even see possibilities outside of what is in it for them and that is the philosophy they function with.

What Happens When You Are Transparent


A few months back I worked on a small framework assessment project at a home office where I immersed myself in a company’s headquarters for three weeks. I was brought into the organization to consult on their workplace culture that was challenged, to say the least. After the first few days, I realized that the overwhelming issue was that no one trusted anyone they were working with. People didn’t verbally communicate, it was all in email. No one smiled or made eye contact with anyone else. Sitting in on meetings there was a palpable tension in the room. There was no innovation, there was no sharing of ideas, there was no camaraderie – at all! When, in casual conversation with others  I’d mention work I was doing with someone else, approximately 50% of the time just the mere mention of a persons name would result in an exaggerated eye-roll and the yentas in the business were all too happy to share gossip about the person(s) I mentioned.

People didn’t help each other, people didn’t share information unless it behooved them – politically – to do so. Lack of transparency was a huge obstacle in this workplace.

When an organization truly practices – and is unwavering in – the value of transparency with their employees – that organization is more successful, the people are more successful, and the customer experience is more successful. This type of environment leaves employees feeling valued and humanized. They are encouraged to be innovative and share their best practices or kooky, off-the-cuff ideas. Transparency fosters a type of comfort that allows employees to communicate effectively, support each other, and thus move forward.

  • Transparency drives team performance, task ownership, accountability and better communication. When a project or objective, and everyone’s task and responsibility, is visible to the entire team, people rise to a level of accountability and performance that doesn’t happen when lost in individual bubbles of work. Transparency also holds individuals accountable, and motivates them to deliver on their commitments. If your colleague is working hard and making remarkable headway on a task, it’s going to challenge most of us to do the same.
  • When leaders are transparent, problems are solved faster. By being open and honest about company challenges, employees can [and want] to help find solutions. And multiple heads are ALWAYS better than one.
  • A culture that values transparency in the workplace supports engaged employees. HBR’s 2013 employee engagement survey revealed that 70% of those surveyed say they’re most engaged when senior leadership consistently updates and communicates company strategy.

One of the challenges I presented to a focus group of six organizational mid-level leaders was to help their colleagues who were in distress or behind in their projects. This had to be done in person working together, collaboratively. The person who was floundering a bit had to verbally communicate where they were, where they wanted to be by that point, what the scope of the project was, how it aligned with a greater objective, and what their obstacle(s) was. The process forced people who were not used to connecting on a in-person level to lean into that discomfort and be present with someone who needs their help. To listen to them, collaborate with them, and teach them – while doing so they were learning as well. Within four weeks of these people working closely to help each other, workplace engagement among this tiny group of 15 rose to 92% from 58%.

How To Be A Great Colleague Known For Genuine Service To Others

  • AVOID POOR OFFICE ETIQUETTE: I know this seems like a obvious one but we all have “those” people we work with that annoy us and we must be cognizant of the fact that we may be someone else’s annoying coworker. According to a survey on office habits conducted by the office product supplier Viking, nearly 29% of participants admitted that they find it frustrating when their colleagues are regularly late. While almost 28% of those surveyed said that they are annoyed by coworkers that whine. But that’s not all: Over 20% of folks dislike it when their colleagues fail to replace things that run out (coffee, printer paper, etc.), while nearly 22% admitted they have an issue with colleagues that take too long to get their assignments done/consistently procrastinate. Finally – smile already. Smiling is contagious. Smiling signals friendliness and encourages positive interactions. People are drawn more to people who seem happy. People are treated differently when they smile. One study showed that the more a person smiled in a photo, the more viewers of that photo expected an interaction with that person to go well…and expectations like that make people treat others with more warmth.
  • DON’T JUDGE. SHARE YOUR RESOURCES [AND ACTIVELY LEARN FROM OTHERS]: Regardless of our unique strengthens, responsibilities, and titles, it’s undeniably helpful when someone shares a resource that might benefit their colleagues. Look around you – people you work with, but rarely interact with, may be great a negotiator or be able to inspire action with engaging communication – you can absolutely learn from these people and they will be thrilled you noticed and acknowledged their unique traits. Conversely – you likely have some skills and competencies you see lacking in others that are holding them back from their best shot…share what you know. Offer to help – it’s up to them to accept the help but making the first move is a great way to show you are an involved and considerate colleague.
  • BE RESPECTFUL OF PEOPLE’S TIME: We’re all busy and under deadlines. We’re all dealing with things at work that we don’t necessarily want to deal with. And, frequently, we could use more than 24 hours in a day. Since there is not magic formula for resolving daily challenges at work – other than working through them, you can take steps toward making time more manageable by respecting your colleague’s time. According to a 2016 LeadershipIQ survey, 71% of people report frequent interruptions when they’re working. When plagued by frequent starts/stops to your day, there’s only a 44% chance that people conclude their day feeling like “today was a really successful day.”. Learn to pick up on and react politely to visual and verbal clues from your coworkers that they are involved in a project that needs their attention. Make sure that times to meet and speak are mutually beneficial so that both parties are present in mind and body for collaboration.


  • EXPRESS APPRECIATION & RECOGNITION: When people feel unappreciated or underappreciated in the workplace, it becomes more and more difficult for them to see the benefit in going the extra mile. If there’s no one there to recognize the work they put in and just continue to take from them, there’s little motivation to continue to do more. That’s where being a great coworker comes in…whether you directly manage a person or are simply a colleague, give credit and recognize helpful, values & vision based, or extraordinary results.
  • EMBRACE ENCOURAGEMENT AS PART OF YOUR DAILY ROUTINE: Giving your colleagues simple verbal encouragement to tackle and excel in their work challenges with confidence is sometimes all it takes to inspire them to overcome obstacles. Encouragement when facing challenges during the tumultuous times helps people recognize their importance to the business results, serves as a source of inspiration, and supports loyalty.  Encouraging one another should be a built-in human function that we display consistently with one another. It will help create and maintain a supportive company culture.
  • DO NOT INITIATE OR INVOLVE YOURSELF IN OFFICE GOSSIP: Seriously – just don’t do it.  It’s not nice. It’s not productive. It can hurt people’s feelings. It’s rarely – if ever – accurate. You can read my thoughts here, here, or here. While most people may be tempted to eavesdrop on salacious news or chime in on the inevitable blather – it’s the decent thing to do to avoid it and it’s even more decent to curb it.. Not only is engaging in office gossip both risky and unprofessional, but it can result in some pretty sticky situations that you will be connected to should you involve yourself.  The best way to limit the amount of swirling noise and scandal? Keep lines of communication open. The more transparent and honest you and your colleagues are with one another, the less room there is for speculation.
  • BRING BALANCE & EMOTIONAL PERSPECTIVE: In the chaos of workplace panic and confusion, our fears of what may happen are usually not proportionate with the reality. [Through cognitive distortion (inaccurate thoughts we adopt to reinforce negative thinking or emotions) or inaccurately “mind reading” each other we tend to expect the worst.] Invite humor into the situation and then get started on finding solutions to the challenges your colleague is facing. Resist the urge to spoon-feed direction and solutions on to your colleague, unless specifically requested. Offering support and being present is sometimes enough to help build trust and strengthen relationships.

  • GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO MEET AND GET TO KNOW THE “NOOBs”: As exhilarating as it is to start a new job – for most of us, it is that nerve-wracking as well. Most people spend the first few days worrying about anything from their commute to whether or not they’ll fit in, find friends, to what they’ll share about themselves during the dreaded mandatory ice breakers or meeting introductions.  To make new people feel at ease and introduce them into the workplace culture, make an effort to help them get situated during their first few days or weeks on the job – even small gestures such as a welcome gift, tour of the office, or giving them the low-down on where to grab lunch or – even better – taking them to lunch. Be a part of their onboarding so they know they have a sincere ally as they navigate their first few weeks in their new company and role.
  • BE A GREAT LISTENER: Sometimes people just need to vent and have someone they trust…listen. Considering most of us possess the ability to detect, understand, and feel one anothers emotions influences the way we form bonds and strengthen relationships, this small act of kindness can go along way in establishing trust and camaraderie and support your reputation as being a great [and authentic] colleague.
  • CREATE TRADITIONS: At one of my most ambitious workplaces we have created some fabulous traditions for when we hit major project milestones. Creating and following through on these traditions provide a shared & memorable experience for the people working through the project to look forward to. Whether it’s having everyone over for a black-tie dinner party, participating in Tough Mudder, or getting cocktails as a team, celebrating important accomplishment through these types of events can help people build stronger connections while strengthening the organization’s talent identity and culture and it inspires everyone to contribute and progress.



Founder and Editor in Chief of Excellence In Retail. Published writer. Frequent Podcast Guest. Speaker. Twenty year [oy vey!] retailer. I am passionate about leadership development and workplace culture. 646 246 1380 | [No Sales Contact, please} But it you want to call just to say hello or have a question - that's awesome!

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