3 ways to support your peers

Manager or not, we often want to help our peers so that they do well at their work. While each of us have our own way of supporting others, it generally is more effective if we have a basic approach defined. 

From personal experience, here are 3 things that I follow.

  1. Support with mechanisms – there will be some peers who have challenges with skills and/or knowledge which hinders their ability to get things done. They want to perform well but often fall short. A good way to support them is through coaching in such areas, showing them how to do things, identifying buddies or mentors they can interact with, enabling them to take up trainings, ask them to do proof of concepts. breaking down their tasks into smaller and easily measurable sub tasks.
  2. Support with goals – few peers can have difficulty in identifying goals. Lack of clarity in goals makes it difficult to get tasks done. What exactly is expected from me? What does the business or customer or stakeholder need? How is my work making a difference to others. Some common questions go unanswered and results in lack of output from individuals. It makes sense to spend a lot of time with such peers and discuss the impact of their work. Explain the work backward plan, explain the success metrics and keep mapping their work to direct and indirect benefits.
  3. Support with constraints – every assignment we take has some constraints. Timelines. Cost. Resources. Quality. Scope. There will be peers who know how to get things done, understand the end goals, but still have challenges as they try to do things without giving necessary importance to constraints. We often come across a tech design which cannot be implemented within the agreed cost or timelines. Inability to take decisions leads to continuous leakage of effort from rest of the team. In such cases, it is important to spend time with the peer and focus more on constraints. There is no need to explain how and what part of the problem. They know that already. By making them understand the constraints, such peers will then rework on the rest of things and are more likely to deliver things.

These are few things I have learnt while working with some really smart peers. All of us have our own blindspots. What is important is to get support in specific areas where we need the most.

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