Supportiveness is identified as one of Matter’s top soft skills that is linked to performance and career success. Contrary to popular belief, soft skills like supportiveness can also be learned and developed just like any hard skills. Matter helps professionals tease out blindspots and areas for growth in skills like supportiveness through regular peer-to-peer feedback.
Definition of Supportiveness: Listens and provides help for individuals or teams in an encouraging, sensitive manner.
Supportiveness is showing your team that you care about both their work performance and their personal wellbeing. Supportive leaders invest emotional energy and time into fostering strong relationships and rapport among their teams. A supportive environment equips teams with the tools they need to perform effectively and shows that you respect their concerns and ideas. Supportive teams are also happier, perform better, and are more likely to stay with the company longer.
Angela Ahrendts: A challenge in leading a multi-national company with tens of thousands of employees like Apple is having the time to support and understand the needs of every individual. To increase communication, the former head of retail and her team created “Loop”, a feedback platform that gave anyone in the organization a direct line to her and other leaders. By listening to their concerns and needs, Apple has continued to make improvements to keep every team member happy and feel that their feedback is being heard.
Kristen Hadeed: To support both busy homeowners and low-income college students, Hadeed founded Student Maid, a cleaning company staffed only by students. She believes that a company environment should help employees thrive by encouraging freedom, ownership, and happiness. Her industry-leading retention rate is proof that her supportive approach not only impacts her team’s happiness, but also the business bottom-line.
Jon Stein: Stein has made a career around giving people the support they need in order to reach their goals. In 2008, he founded Betterment to make investing more accessible. At Betterment, Stein shepherds a culture that prioritizes three key qualities in new hires: horsepower, passion, and openness. These three qualities encourage teams to support each other, whether it’s on project or personal development goals. The culture of Betterment is known as a community built around a strong mission, trust, and respect.
Building Relationships Between the Team: Often, leaders make the mistake of neglecting relationships between teammates. The relationships between team members are crucial. If you want a highly committed team that gets things done, be a builder of relationships.
Celebrating Others’ Achievements: Establish a set of clearly defined goals with your team. Celebrate when those goals are met. Recognizing achievements helps to create a positive company culture and also encourages people to give 100% in their jobs. When a person receives praise, they will automatically try to give the same level of performance and even improve efforts further.
Eliminating the Fear of Failure: Failure is a necessary stepping stone to success. Create an environment where people are not constantly feeling judged on their past failures. Instead, create a supportive environment where people can try and fail without fear.
Encouraging Teamwork: Supportive leaders should encourage teamwork. This can be done by keeping open channels of communication and encouraging feedback, as well as recognizing the team members’ efforts and rewarding them.
Imagining Others’ Point of View: Having empathy for your peers is a critical component to be a supportive leader. Being able to empathize means to be capable of identifying and understanding another person’s feelings, without experiencing them for yourself at that particular moment. It is the ability to literally experience the world from another person’s perspective.
Providing Positive Feedback: People want to feel appreciated. When you offer specific, positive feedback, your peers will feel valued and connected to the team and will know that you have noticed their efforts. When people receive positive feedback, they find more meaning in their jobs, which can increase their engagement at work and result in increased productivity.
Putting Yourself in Teammates’ Shoes: One of the easiest ways for you to build empathy is to put yourself in your teammates’ shoes. Remind yourself of routine activities your peers are going through.
Showing Commitment: A leader should be committed to both their team members and the project at hand. If the leader entertains doubts regarding the firm’s mission and objectives, the uncertainty will automatically be reflected in her team members’ activities. However, if the leader is fully committed, then her teammates will also be committed.
Who can benefit from practicing supportiveness? Matter is helping professionals at all levels get actionable feedback to improve their supportiveness.
Supportiveness shouldn’t be practiced in a vacuum. Improve your supportiveness by exploring and developing these complementary skills.