One night last week I had to make a run to my local CVS to pick-up a prescription. I pulled into the parking lot where I saw a young mother struggling in the middle of the parking lot after her cart of goods had tipped-over…and her young son had fallen from the cart as well. I quickly parked my car, ran over to help.
Luckily, her son was unharmed. She was incredibly thankful as we got all of the contents back into the cart. It was then that I noticed two adults…likely in their late 30’s to early 40’s…parked and sitting in a car about 15 feet away and facing the young mother. They had been sitting and watching everything unfold before I arrived and while I was helping. I asked the young mother “So, have those people been watching you the whole time? Did they even move a muscle to help?” She smiled and said “Um, no.”
I was pretty angry and started walking towards the car of adults but said to myself “Ron, forget it. They know they could’ve helped before I got there but didn’t. They don’t know how selfish and ignorant they are and nothing you say could change their minds”.
The same things happen all of the time at work. I bet we all know someone who’s struggling to belong, to get solid footing with their job, falling-behind on a project. Do we look the other way when we see this? Do we pretend we don’t notice? Do we say “not my problem?”.
Everyone, everywhere needs to go home at the end of the day feeling consequential, knowing that what they do at work is valued and that people truly depend on them.
Struggling on the job can lead to incredible feelings of self-doubt, sadness, isolation, hopelessness. That’s where inviting someone to lunch comes in. That’s where asking people how they’re doing comes in. That’s where patterning good work behaviors comes in. That’s where mentoring comes in.
I’m not sure that I buy-in to the idea that we all need a best friend at work…but weall need to know that our co-workers care enough about us to help when we’re struggling.