Helping Others Succeed: Creating Win-Win Situations in the Workplace

By Carol J. Mulvihill, R.N.,C., CQ Editor and Director of Health Services, University of Pittsburgh at Bradford


CarlaConsider this quote from positive thinking proponent Zig Ziglar: "You will get everything in life that you want if you just help enough other people get what they want."

As I reflect on recent years in college health, I have found this to be particularly true in my relationships to those I supervise. I had worked solo for many years in a small college health service. Now I have a secretary (25%), a work-study student (nine hours per week), a graduate assistant (part-time) and a part-time nurse (2 days per week for 5 hours per day). This meager staff may sound miniscule to those who work in larger health care settings, but to this former "lone nurse," it is a vast step forward into the new challenges and responsibilities of supervisory relationships. There are now four individuals for whom I have a responsibility, and that responsibility is to help them succeed and grow.

After groveling through two years as a supervisor, I have discovered an approach that is working very well. I create win-win situations in the workplace. I find a project of benefit to the health service that will be a new challenge or require the development of a new skill for one of my part-time staff. It builds the esteem of others when they are enabled to experience success in learning a new skill and completing an important project.

For example, during the past year, I have had a very bright and energetic work-study student named Carla (pictured above). She is very good at math and has done very accurate work on statistical summaries for my monthly, term, and annual reports. This year I decided to have Carla do the annual cost-analysis studies for our self-care centers, a job which only I had done for the past 20 years. Carla accomplished the job with precision and thoroughness, with some minor direction and guidance from me.

I let Carla know on more than one occasion how very pleased I was with the quality of work she was doing. When her father stopped in to meet me a month or so later, I got to brag about her to him, much to his delight. In addition, when it came time for me to write a recommendation for Carla, I was able to write that she was the manager of our three self-care centers, monitoring the inventory, utilization, and cost-effectiveness of these services. That is rather impressive for a college sophomore.

In addition, I wanted to give Carla the opportunity to have a little fun and learn a new skill, so I told her I would help her create her own homepage on the World Wide Web (WWW). I taught her the rudimentary basics of HTML (Hypertext Mark-up Language) and helped her launch her home page complete with imported animated graphics. In exchange, she helped me revise and format our health service brochure 101 Ways to Make Love Without Doing It for one of my web pages! I had also taught her how to do a web search, and she helped me gather the information for a brochure we created about Piercing Care and Precautions.

It was a win-win situation! Carla became one of the few students on our campus who actually had created a homepage complete with graphics on the WWW. Now she can continue to help me work on web pages for our health service!

It has been so gratifying to see Carla succeed and learn new skills. And we have had great fun in the process. Helping others experience success in their work efforts is always a win-win situation. I have also discovered is that it is even more gratifying than experiencing the satisfaction of having done the work myself! The greatest reward of all is that it has helped me achieve remarkable improvement in my working relationships with others.

My friend and colleague Bill Hettler told me of a similar win-win opportunity he created for students at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point. He taught a class for students interested in starting their own home page on the WWW. In exchange, one of their assignments was to create a health education web page on a particular topic that he could then link to his tremendous collection of web pages for his health service! In addition, he has had the opportunity to develop friendly working relationships with some of the student "computer gurus" he is mentoring. It became a beneficial situation for the students as well as for Bill and his health service. It's yet another example of how creating a win-win situation results in productivity and gratification for all involved.

I think Zig Ziglar was right when he said "You will get everything in life that you want if you just help enough other people get what they want." It has brought wonderful results for me every time I have been able to create a win-win situation in the workplace.

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