Kindness at work is often underrated. Too often, especially when very busy, it can be so tempting to cut short on the niceties and drive straight into the work. I know that I personally am guilty of this sometimes; with a long to-do list, it’s easy to only focus on the immediate what needs to be done. However, throughout my career, I’ve come to appreciate how important it is to be kind to colleagues, clients, and yourself to be most successful. 

Kindness means more than just being “nice” to people. Kindness at work to me means building a team where everyone is empowered to do their best and express their unique thoughts and perspectives. Building a culture of kindness leads to more innovative and diverse approaches which ultimately makes the team as a whole more successful. (Plus, it’s just more pleasant to work in this kind of environment!) 

Here are my top tips for building a culture of kindness on your team:

Be open to new ideas and voices

Express curiosity. When team members provide input or suggestions, take the time to really listen and understand their point of view. The team may ultimately decide not to move forward with particular ideas but it’s important to go into conversations with open minds and not preconceived notions of what the correct step forward is. Fresh perspectives breed innovation and when team members feel their voices are heard, they are more likely to continue to speak up and share ideas in the future. 

Recognize and acknowledge work

Most people like to be recognized for their hard work. Share feedback with team members to acknowledge and encourage successes as well as provide opportunities for them to learn and grow. Sincerely thanking someone for a job well done can be extremely meaningful. Highlighting specific team member accomplishments to the broader group can also be a great way to recognize hard work. 

Understand that people are more than what you see at work

People have lives outside of work. It’s important to understand this and build individual relationships while maintaining professional boundaries. Acknowledge team birthdays and significant life events and look for team-building opportunities to encourage relationship building. Most importantly, understand that sometimes team members may have personal responsibilities that require some flexibility at work and try to accommodate if possible. 

Be a servant leader

Look for ways to support your team. Check in on team members to ensure they have what they need to be successful and work to eliminate roadblocks they are experiencing. Offer to jump in and help if the team is swamped and you are able to provide assistance. When teams see this kind of leadership in action, they become more likely to help each other as well and build a highly collaborative and supportive team.