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The Unique Ways You Can Be Generous at Work

When you’re in a position of leadership at work, one of the most important characteristics you can develop is generosity. This doesn’t mean that you need to get into the habit of doling out excessive rewards or undeserved perks. But recognizing employees’ efforts and adopting a giving (and forgiving) mentality are excellent ways to foster productivity and positivity. Ultimately, a workplace in which generosity plays a role is one in which employees are more likely to feel happy and fulfilled.

With all of that in mind, here are a few specific ways in which leaders can be more generous at work.

Mentor & Teach Success

When you’re in a position of leadership, you have a unique opportunity to mentor those who are working for you (or aspiring to do so). Think of your position as a platform, not just for directing work efforts and overseeing company progress, but for helping other people achieve the success they’re longing for. This mindset alone will go a long way toward establishing a more generous workplace (and may well trickle down so that others are more generous within the work environment as well).

One specific, tangible approach you can try is setting up a program — or at least an option — that provides instruction in key areas employees can use to maximize their professional efforts. Ken Honda’s post on ‘4 Key Areas of Life to Shift for Increasing Your Happiness’ provides a sort of blueprint for what you can focus on. Teaching employees to prioritize professional relationships, learn their own business, manage money, and manifest goals can make you an invaluable mentor. And on a more interpersonal level, offering instruction (either personally or via materials you make available) shows you to be a generous and considerate leader — not simply a “boss.”

Now, some leaders have qualms about going too far toward mentorship. There is a concern, and not an illogical one, about training employees to the point at which they gain qualification for (and interest in) other jobs. This is certainly a possibility, but it doesn’t need to be looked at as a problem. In fact, a savvy leader should look at this sort of outcome as a positive — an indication of good mentorship and positive impact.

In this respect, there is almost something coach-like about leadership. While there is of course a difference between a life coach and a business leader, a ZenBusiness piece on life coaching poses a question that effective “bosses” should ask themselves as well: “Do you have great people skills and love the satisfaction of helping others succeed?” The latter part of that question speaks to an essential element of generous leadership. You should want your employees to succeed, even if that means they ultimately move on to other opportunities. It’s a way of putting some positivity into the world — and more often than not, it tends to come back around.

Ken Honda has made a deep promise to himself to give back to his mentors and this is a value that can be modeled for those you mentor as well. For example, Ken consistently shares the messages and stories of his mentor Wahei Takeda as a way of paying tribute to a man who greatly affected his life. Even now that Wahei has passed away, he continues to champion his mentor and credit him for much of Ken’s own success. It is important to give back to your mentors in both gratitude and profit. In this way, when you demonstrate this value to those you mentor and have built a genuine relationship with, it generally comes back to you in invaluable ways, particularly when they “graduate” to their next step in their career and life.

Let Mistakes Go

All too often, people expect the workplace to be one in which mistakes are harped on and hung onto. Employees — even in fairly positive workplaces — tend to be terrified of making mistakes. And people in positions of leadership often struggle to let them go, both personally and with regard to employee performance. This is a negative pattern to fall into, however, and one that is ultimately far from generous, both to yourself and to those you work with. So instead, work on moving past these issues. As Dr. Leilani Carver-Madalon mentioned about mistakes in an interview on leadership, “You are human. Learn from it, apologize, and let it go. If you won’t remember it in a year, let it go.” This is partially about adopting a new mindset that allows you to focus on the big picture and avoid letting smaller issues have a disproportionate impact.

To be clear, an effective leader also needs to have a threshold regarding mistakes. Allowing too many will naturally begin to impact a business, and can raise fair questions about the fit or performance of an employee. But so long as you have a clear threshold or limit in mind, practicing forgiveness and developing teaching points for mistakes that fall within the limits is sound practice.

Reward Performance Financially

Perhaps the most tangible way to be generous as a leader in the workplace is to reward strong performance with a financial perk — be it a raise, a bonus, or in appropriate circumstances even a gift add or similar offering. Often, the idea of providing this kind of bonus is framed as a matter of motivation. This is a perfectly logical psychological mindset, and one that speaks to how much of a motivating factor finances play in business settings. But it’s important as a leader to recognize the generosity component as well.

Offering an unexpected reward now and then — even a small one — shows that you’re not merely relying on an established promotion and/or bonus structure, but rather that you’re sincerely recognizing a job well done. Additionally, this is another way of putting good out into the world, and establishing positive energy surrounding your business and leadership. As stated above regarding training and preparing employees, this sort of thing often comes back around in a good way.

Finally, it should also be noted briefly that not providing financial rewards can leave employees feeling unrecognized or underappreciated.

These ideas represent unique opportunities for workplace leaders to create a culture of generosity. Providing mentorship, forgiving mistakes and turning them into teaching opportunities, and providing financial rewards are all ways to give, and to show appreciation. Any workplace will be better for them.

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By: Reina Janice

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