Over the years, I am sure that I have given my parents an equal share of cringe worthy, as well as delight-filled moments.
But this week, I think I made my folks very proud.
A few days ago I was invited on the Tamil language radio station, Raaga, to speak about what it means to be a good citizen. I approached it with some nervousness, on account of my rather rustic street Tamil. Also, I had an image to maintain as a daily contributor to its sister radio station, Lite Malaysia.
The hosts were very kind to me as I bungled my way through the 1-hour segment in my out-of-practice mother tongue.
I did my very best to share ideas with listeners on what constitutes a good citizen for our nation.
I was so heartened when my mother called me immediately after the broadcast and was so proud of my performance on air. My father then proceeded to share text messages from his friends and former work colleagues who had sent him glowing verdicts of my show.
If I am honest, the most satisfying thing about my radio show that day was that I made my parents really very proud and happy that I could speak useful Tamil.
But this episode made me think about what it actually means to be a good citizen, at the workplace?
“Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country… In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course.”
This is one of the most famous proclamations that you’ve probably heard.
In his 1961 inaugural address, President John F Kennedy of the United States spoke most eloquently about the true meaning of citizenship.
Do these principles of serving your country translate to the workplace, as well?
Many seemingly good citizens in the community might not offer the same commitment to their workplaces, or they morph into just being egoistical co-workers.
My experience shows that being good citizens at work, does make a big difference to the bottom-line results in any organisation.
One of the most important aspects of organisational life is your ability to be a team-player.
I want reiterate how important it is for you, to be part of an orchestral ensemble at work, because others need to perform well in order for you to produce results.
From the CEO right down to the janitor, everyone in your company must take organisational citizenship seriously. It has to become ingrained as a non-negotiable personal responsibility for everyone in your team.
Leadership and how people are managed plays a critical role in why some companies have successfully ensured that their teams function effectively, as good citizens, at the work place.
If your team enjoys their work, are connected to the company and are fulfilled by what they do, you will find that they automatically display great organisational citizenship.
The highest value task for a leader is to create an environment that shows supportive behaviour. You have to actually be helpful to your team. This kind of role modeling will foster a climate in your workplace where it becomes normal for others to help one another.
As a leader, helping others does not actually mean you have to do everything for your people.
Work on constructing your workplace as an environment that is founded on respect and mutually dependent team members. You want to empower everyone in your company with autonomy, but at the same time, they must know that they can and should ask for help, when needed.
Individually, what do you need to do to be a good citizen at work?
The first is to be willing to share expertise and information. In many instances where I have been called in to companies to help create a better workplace, this willingness to share is sorely missing.
Many people are only motivated by self-interest and they become stingy with knowledge. This goes against good citizenship at work. If you want to increase the efficacy of your team, be willing to share.
The next benchmark for good citizenship at work is whether you make yourself available to lend a helping hand to a co-worker in need.
“This is not my job or part of my work-scope” is the most widely heard lament in most companies. You must break away from this mindset.
And, third on my list of what constitutes good citizenship at work is in how you deal with conflicts with colleagues. Interpersonal conflicts that go unresolved will spell the death of any harmonious workplace.
Many organisations fail, or at the very least do not meet their full potential, because people fight, compete, and deride each other in meetings, through their interactions, and by non-cooperation.
The best companies I have trained and coached have employees who really understand that helping others will create a sustainable, competitive advantage.
Are you a good citizen, at work?
Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”