“Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

President John Kennedy

Good citizenship can make such a difference to how it feels to be in the workplace. 

As an employee it feels like great teamwork, people pulling together, giving to each other without looking for something in return. For the employer there is much to be gained from the concept through improved organisational and employee effectiveness.

Behaviours that display organisational citizenship are those that are concerned with how individuals feel they can help colleagues and are spontaneous and co-operative.

Think about yourself for a moment and ask:

Am I willing to help others at work to develop and be more effective by sharing information with them?

Do I offer to help those who need it within my team?

When things go wrong and there is conflict, do I try and resolve it?

Before I make a decision that will affect my colleagues do I talk to them about it?

Our employees all have a responsibility to do what they can to help others and to get the best out of them, but their willingness to show citizenship behaviours in the workplace is impacted on by a number of factors, including how they are managed.  If they enjoy their work, feel engaged with the organisation and get a sense of satisfaction out of what they do, they will in turn be encouraged to display organisational citizenship.

Leadership therefore matters a lot showing supportive behaviour and role modelling by helping others, creates a climate where it becomes the norm to help each other. This might mean as a leader, being fair to those who don’t show fairness or showing patience towards those who burn on a short fuse, but a fundamental feature of being an effective leader is to demonstrate good citizenship.

Helping others as a leader though doesn’t mean you do everything for the team.  Aim for a situation where members of the team are mutually dependant on each other, have a sense of autonomy and empowerment but know when to ask for help and know that they can ask for help from you.

By encouraging organisational citizenship as a leader, we also give people the confidence to challenge each other.  If we have a good working relationship with our colleagues, we are more comfortable with challenging them, knowing it will be seen as constructive rather than destructive because we have trust in that person.

It really is quite a straight forward concept; behave in way that is helpful to others and watch them follow in your footsteps.

What do you do to encourage organisational citizenship in your workplace?

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