Being a good citizen at work is the key to improving your work culture because a single person can change everything.
The way you carry yourself and interact with others undeniably impacts their satisfaction at work and, subsequently, the way they interact with others. This is true whether you are a newbie, a veteran or a leader in your center.
When you demonstrate good “citizenship behavior,” it is likely to be reciprocated. Who you are to others infuses them with your energy – either positive or negative – which they then disperse to those around them.
Now, let’s not get all new-agey here. This isn’t about auras or “mood color”, and astrology doesn’t have a horse in this race. This is about what you bring to a room, to a conversation and to an interaction with another person at work. When that energy is perceived as welcoming, positive, helpful or inclusive, it impacts and influences that person (or those people) with a lasting positive energy that both sticks around AND gets passed around.
Your coworkers are much more likely to engage in “citizenship behavior” because you did.
Simply stated: Treating your coworkers well can inspire their motivation to treat others the same way – to become good citizens at work themselves.
Interesting research supports this assertion.
In a study on the way coworkers in organizations treat each other published by the University of Minnesota, researchers coined the phrase “citizenship behavior” to describe treating coworkers with kindness, consideration, trust and support. They also noted the contagious nature of the behavior:
Perhaps the most important factor explaining the onset of citizenship behavior is how we are treated by the people around us. When we have a good relationship with our manager and we are supported by management staff, when we are treated fairly by coworkers, when we are attached to our peers, and when we trust the people around us, we are more likely to engage in these citizenship behaviors. A high-quality relationship with people we work with will mean that simply doing our job will not be enough to maintain the relationship. In a high-quality relationship, we feel the obligation to reciprocate and do extra things to help those around us. For citizenship behaviors, the motivation-behavior link is clear. We help others around us if we feel motivated to do so.
The researchers further suggest that positivity and citizenship behaviors are demonstrably linked:
People who are conscientious, agreeable, and positive tend to perform citizenship behaviors more often than others, and people who have overall positive attitudes tend to perform citizenship behaviors more often than others.
A Single Person Can Change Everything
It’s easy to discount your impact on the world around you. To think that things are bigger than you, or couldn’t respond to any effort you might put in. What could one person possibly do?
Be a good teammate.
Help others around you.
Speak to people with understanding.
Be kind when it is least expected.
One person can change everything.
Consider a trip to the DMV or another experience you entered into with the lowest possible expectations. Have you ever been surprised or pleasantly shocked by a caring, kind person in a place where, based on previous experience, there was no reason to expect it? Think about how that impacted your day and your outlook on humanity in general. Think about how that one person who smiled, showed patience or treated you kindly made you feel, and how it made you want to treat others.
Consider when you were new in your comm center (maybe you are a new employee as you read this). Have you had one person reach out to you, show patience or exhibit extraordinary kindness during a tough moment? How did that make you feel? And, because of that experience, how likely were you to show that same kindness to someone else? To demonstrate citizenship behavior because it was demonstrated to you?
There are any number of examples that can quickly reinforce the idea that you can make a difference in the behavior of those around you. You can and you should. It will prove contagious over time.
Being a good citizen at work is the key to improving your work culture, because a single person can change everything.
About Kris Inman:
Kris Inman is the Director of Program Development for The Healthy Dispatcher. A 29-year veteran of 9-1-1, Kris retired in July 2023 as Director of Springfield Greene County 9-1-1 in Springfield, MO. An awarded speaker and instructor, Kris has delivered standout educational sessions, keynotes, motivational talks and yoga instruction to dispatchers across the country. He is also a long-time college adjunct instructor, teaching courses in communication and public safety leadership. Kris holds a Master of Arts in Communication and a Bachelor of Science in Electronic Media from Missouri State University. He is also a registered yoga instructor.