Payback for Paying it Forward

Quick Summary: Cross-organizational involvement in community activities leads to the formation of tight bonds.


Encouraging all employees to participate in community pay it forward activities can obviously help the targeted organizations.  Although these activities are based on giving one’s time and talents and expecting nothing in return, significant returns are realized.  Those returns take the form of the development of stronger bonds within the company that will continually pay dividends long after the community activities are completed.

The key motivation for incorporating Principle Seven is simple:  It is the right thing to do.  And, it should be done expecting nothing in return.  No press releases, marketing programs, testimonials, or other “credit” should be expected and should never be the motive behind following this principle.  There will, however, be payback that is far more valuable and will have long lasting value as well.  It involves the development of deeper and more meaningful person-to-person relationships within the company.

When the company was just starting out, consisting of the founder and a handful of highly motivated employees or co-founders, everyone knew everyone; their spouses, their kids, and even their likes and dislikes.  Somehow there was time for everyone even though the pace was crazy and the hours were long.  When someone was added to the “club” the intimate circle expanded.  However, as more people joined the organization, the intimate knowledge and companionship began to stop.  Relationships began to morph into business only relationships and the personal personnel touch seemed to begin to fade away.  Of course, this transition is subtle and occurs slowly over time.  As the organization becomes larger, clicks or sub-groups form innocently and the proverbial silos or stove pipes based upon organizational responsibilities begin to emerge.  All of this is natural and seems to occur in the vast majority of organizations.  No one wants it to happen, it just does.  Reversing the situation, going back to the good old days, seems to be a longing desire by the “old timers”.

Encouraging widespread participation in some (any) community activity is probably the quickest and easiest way to rekindle the old personal spirit.  Company parties, cookouts, Friday afternoon events all can help, but they invariably become social gatherings that still seem to revert to business discussions.  With employees focusing on some external activity and with all people at all levels equally sharing in the activities and tasks at hand, an entirely new dynamic can evolve.  Instead of focusing on their role in the company, individuals focus on the external activity, side by side, independent of their role or position within the company.  Individuals become people not “fellow employees”.  Bonds that develop in these settings can easily remain intact after the fact in the work environment.  People passing each other in the hall or in the break room actually begin to make eye contact and say “hi” and may even spend a moment or two talking about the past event.  The “family” reemerges.  It was never gone, only put aside.

Payback becomes personal with each person feeling better about what they did as well as feeling the bond grow with their colleagues.  Paying it forward also pays in reverse.

Article Number : 2.080203   

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