4 Ways to Support Your Coworkers
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In this episode...
4 Ways to Support Your Coworkers
Most talk about support in business deals with how employers can support employees. But employees can support employees, too. Episode 71 of Faithful on the Clock provides four essential ways to show your coworkers you care.
[[00:04] - Intro
[00:40] - Most talk about support at work is about employers helping employees, but employees have enormous power to help each other and, subsequently, to influence the work experience.
[02:20] - Recommendation #1: Ask people how they are doing, but in such a way that it’s difficult for people not to deny the reality they’re in.
[03:15] - People will open up if you give them an in to do so.
[05:02] - Recommendation #2: Present yourself as a partner to validate the ideas and concerns your coworkers have.
[06:41] - Give kudos. Don’t wait for the boss to do it.
[0:8:10] - Do what you can to lighten their load. This doesn’t mean be an unpaid doormat. It means that you find small ways to serve that encourage reciprocal kindness.
[09:29] - Bonus Recommendation: Remember that everyone’s perception is unique and verify what people actually think and need.
[10:17] - Recap
[10:30] - Prayer
[11:07] - Outro/What’s coming up next
- Most of the discussion around support in the corporate environment hinges around what employers can do to create a safe culture and protect wellbeing. But employees can support each other and have a lot of power in reducing stress for each other, too. God calls us to let our light shine and encourage one another, so there is an opportunity to make a huge difference.
- Recommendation #1 - Ask people how they are in a way that makes it hard to stay superficial. You might think they would not respond, but when you give them an “in” to be honest, they usually let down their guard. That creates an opening for real relationship building.
- Recommendation #2 - Present yourself as a partner to validate the ideas and concerns they have. Options might be encouraging them to bring an issue to HR with you or even sending a link to an event. The idea is that you provide some next steps for them to take and make sure they understand they don’t have to take those steps alone.
- Recommendation #3 - Give kudos. Don’t get caught up in envy or the fear that if you don’t compete in a dog-eat-dog way, you’ll lose out. Don’t wait for the boss to offer the accolades — explain your appreciation and how they have influence.
- Recommendation #4 - Do what you can to lighten their load. This doesn’t mean stifling your own needs or being a doormat, nor does it mean shouldering everyone else’s responsibilities with no acknowledgment. It means finding ways to serve and cooperate.
- Bonus recommendation - Remember everyone’s perception is unique.
- Integrate at least one of the recommendations from the show into your work this week.
- Talk to others on your team about what they personally need to feel supported. This effort will help everyone be more aware of how to provide individualized help, and it recognizes the unique nature of personality, experience, and skills.
What’s coming up next:
When Joseph wound up in jail after Potiphar’s wife misrepresented her attempt at an affair, his faith and integrity didn’t waver. He continued to behave in a way that honored God. In recognition that the corporate world can be filled with evils and pressures to conform, Episode 72 of Faithful on the Clock looks at Joseph’s story to decode what you can do to stay true to your values even when surrounded by everything that could erode them.
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Hi, again, everybody, it’s yours truly, Wanda Thibodeaux. I’m your host for the Faithful on the Clock podcast, the show slow-cooked to perfection to make sure that your work and faith align. And today, the episode is all about being a good helper. More specifically, how can you offer support to coworkers in your office or digital space? If you’ve ever wished somebody would lend a hand to you, or if you’re looking for ways to build up the relationships on your team, this is the episode for you. Let’s get to it, everybody.[:
OK, so the only little preface I want to give before I dive in today is just to acknowledge that I think most of the airspace around support at work is around how employers can help their employees. It’s all about, you know, how leaders can develop better programs or communicate better, and in a way, that’s good because employers do need to take an appropriate amount of accountability for the environments they create, right? So I absolutely recommend that leaders continue that discussion and try to lay a good foundation there. But what I think is missing from this discussion is the fact that workers themselves, at any level, have an enormous amount of power when it comes to supporting each other. And in some ways, I see that maybe as even more important, because if you’ve got good people you trust to spend the day with, I think that makes a huge difference in how you perceive the work and how stressful that work can be. You know, you can’t always control the decisions the executives or the board makes, but you can control how you engage with, you know, Joe Schmoe from accounting. And I’ll give you Matthew 5:16. That says, “In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your father who is in Heaven.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “So continue encouraging each other and building each other up, just like you are doing already.” So I just want to recognize that and encourage you to see that this is an opportunity for you to make a real difference in the experience people have within the business, and at the same time, to represent God in a really powerful way through what you say and do.[:
So to get into it, the first recommendation I have is to just ask people how they’re doing. And you might have heard this other places, but the mistake I think people make with this is that, when they ask, they phrase it in a way so that the other person can get out of really opening up. So for example, people might say, “Hey, do you need anything?” And to them, that’s them trying to do their part and check in. But to the listener, it might come across like, oh, I don’t know, “Do you need more staples?” or “Can I get you a coffee?” You know, it’s easy to dismiss or push aside. So be careful how you ask this. I like to just ask, “How are you holding up?” Or sometimes I’ll ask, “Is there anything that’s stressful for you I can help with?” So it’s subtle, but it makes it a little more difficult for them not to, you know, punt their feelings into the sun.[:
Now, here’s the thing about this. You might think that people wouldn’t open up because of this whole idea of professional boundaries. But in my experience, once people realize that you have given them a genuine “in” to be honest and that you actually give two cents about them, all of a sudden, it creates this huge crack in the guard they have up. Like, I can see it. There’s always this kind of pause in the Slack chat or whatever it is, or you see people on Zoom fidget a little. And that’s the moment when they’re deciding whether to trust you. And almost every time, they spew this brief reality about what’s going on. So I’ll just give you an example, I had done this with one coworker, and her first response in the chat was to send, you know, that little big eyes or pleading face emoji with the tearful eyes. And then she admits she doesn’t know if what she’s doing is enough and that she’s glad to work a little overtime to add value. And so I was just honest with her and I told her point-blank that feelings are just feelings and that she didn’t need to earn the worth she has. And she’s like, “Wanda, you’re gonna make me cry.” And so that’s just a perfect example, you know, there were maybe half a dozen messages in that exchange, took less than five minutes. But it just made it so evident to me that a lot of the time, people need the encouragement. They really do. They just don’t always have the in to admit it. It’s like that Robin Williams quote that most people are fighting a battle you know nothing about. So if you just create that in for them, I promise you, a lot of the time, they absolutely will take it. And once they do, my experience has been that the entire relationship shifts. All of a sudden, the people I’ve done this with, they’ll start coming to me, asking for a little bit deeper advice and whatnot. So just give that a try. See how people react.[:
The second thing you can do to support your coworkers is to present yourself as a partner to validate the ideas and concerns they have. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” Verse 12 continues that and says, “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” So in that context, a lot of the time, you know, people get intimidated by the boss, or there’s not really a good system in place that makes it easy for individuals to bring concerns to the table. And so it’s the coworkers who really become a sounding board and who know what the rest of the team thinks or is dealing with. So what I recommend is that you present the next steps that you can take together with your coworker to get some movement or growth. So for example, you might say, “Hey, you know, that’s a really critical point. Why don’t we go talk to Joe in HR about that?” or you could say, “I really think that’s important for the team. If it’s all right with you, I’ll bring that up in Tuesday's meeting and let everybody know what you’re thinking.” Or maybe it’s something as simple as sending them a link to a relevant book or organization or upcoming event. But you just want to give them an opportunity to take action on whatever the concept or concern is, and you wanna let them know that you’re gonna walk alongside them and that you’re gonna be as much of an advocate as you can so they can succeed. You know, you make it clear that they don’t have to do it alone and that if there’s a real issue, they don’t have to just throw up their hands about it and assume things never will change.[:
My third recommendation is that you give them some kudos. I mean, so often, I think, work gets competitive, right? And people are afraid that if they acknowledge what other people do, they’ll look less than. And so they wait for all the acknowledgment to come from the manager. They work as hard as they can to outdo everybody else along the way. But Ecclesiastes 4:4 says, “Then I saw that all toil and all skill in work come from a man’s envy of his neighbor. This also is vanity and striving after the wind.” And here’s the thing. People expect crumbs of validation from the boss. I don’t think they expect it from you. And that unexpectedness, it’s gonna take people by surprise in a good way. It’s gonna make what you say memorable. And at the same time, you’re lifting them up, they’re not gonna see you as a threat. They’re gonna see that you understand that everybody’s on the same team and that there’s room for everybody to be kind as you reach for a little success. So go ahead and give the kudos. Don’t wait for the boss to say it. Little things like, “You absolutely killed that presentation!” or “I’m just so impressed by the way you handle this, the way you’re so on top of it.” And you know, give them the why behind why you appreciate it. Let them see they influence other people in good ways. It makes a huge difference.[:
Then the last thing I want to suggest for you is to do what you can to lighten their load. Think of Jesus’ invitation in Matthew 11:28 where Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Now I am not in any way shape or form saying you just start shouldering everybody else’s responsibilities and let that be invisible to your leadership. And I am not saying that everybody else’s needs and preferences come ahead of yours. I want you to keep self-advocating. What I’m saying is just to find little ways to carry what you can for others to take the edge off. So maybe, let’s say your days are all pretty even when it comes to scheduling. Well, why not agree to have your meeting on the day that’s easier for your coworker to manage? You know, you find these areas of middle ground where you can cooperate, and the only requirement or expectation is that they do the same for you. So just try to observe and ask questions, and then you just look for these little ways to serve and shoulder the burden. That might be as little as offering to put their folders away when you’re headed to the filing cabinet anyway. But those little gestures, they add up.[:
Now, this is kind of a bonus tip I’ll leave you with. But as you go through all the other recommendations I gave you, keep in mind that everybody’s perception is incredibly unique. And one of the best things I think you can do for everybody is just to realize that they might not see things the way you do. So you know, don’t assume that they can process like you do. Don’t assume it’s easy for them to come to the same conclusion or manage situations like you do. Instead, find out for sure what they think. Ask them about it. And then explain why you see as you do. And you’re not trying to convert them, per se, you’re just being vulnerable to show them who you are. The only agenda is to be real and invite them to do the same with you. That’s it.[:
So those are my top ways to be a help to your coworkers. I hope they help you build some really good, long-term relationships that are going to have real meaning for your career and life overall. Let’s go ahead and pray.[:
Lord, all of us are connected to each other in ways we might not even see. And I just pray today that You get people over whatever fears they might have about losing out if they help the people on their team. Let them be encouraging and loving in Your spirit, and Lord, just help them observe. Help them find the people who need that encouragement and love the most, and let them break down the guard those people might have up so they can feel truly welcome in Your family. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.[:
We have once again reached the end of the show, listeners. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for taking this time with me today. It is just an honor to be able to share with you, and I hope that the show has uplifted you and made you a little more ready for whatever you’ve got on your plate. If that’s true for you, please go to patreon.com/faithfulontheclock and become a supporting member for the show. Don’t wait, ‘kay? Do it, today. You’ll get all kinds of extra goodies if you sign up. Next episode, join me when I talk about Joseph in Pharoah’s prison. I’ll be explaining how to keep your environment from hijacking the Godly principles and behaviors you have. It’s gonna be a good one. Until that drops, be blessed.