How to Succeed Professionally by Helping Others

The Atlantic:

Kat Cole started helping out early. Raised by a single mother of three who held three jobs to support the family, Cole entered the workforce as soon as it was legal. At 15, she started selling clothes at a mall. At 17, she added a second job at a restaurant—first as a hostess and then as a waitress. After juggling these jobs through high school, Cole became the first person in her family to attend college. She studied engineering and planned to go to law school, but those aspirations would soon be shattered.

The restaurant was Hooters, and Cole continued working there in college. When a cook quit, she volunteered to fill in. When a manager departed, she didn’t hesitate to cover that role too. By age 20, her restaurant responsibilities were so consuming that she failed her classes and dropped out of school.

There’s little doubt that Cole’s helpfulness paid off for Hooters. By filling in for a cook and a manager, she prevented long wait times and maintained customer service standards. Indeed, research shows that in restaurants, the more often employees help, the higher their revenue, operating efficiency, cleanliness, and customer satisfaction. This evidence holds up in a wide range of industries, from banking and manufacturing to healthcare and retail: helping behaviors play an important role in organizational effectiveness.

Unfortunately, when people like Kat Cole step up to help, they seem to make their organizations better at their own expense. In professional settings, it’s all too easy to take generosity for granted, especially when it comes from women. In a series of studies, NYU psychologists Madeline Heilman and Julie Chen found that volunteering to help colleagues boosted performance evaluations and rewards for men, but not women.

Read the whole story: The Atlantic

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