As mentioned in a previous blog, Jane Dutton from the University of Michigan has developed 4 specific pathways to building High Quality Connections (‘HQCs’).  If adopted on an organizational level, they can transform culture and performance – as well as the well-being of all those involved.  Now that’s got to be worth considering!

I’m focusing this note on ‘task enabling’, but just so you don’t feel I’m holding back information, the 4 pathways to HQCs are:

  • task enabling (helping another person to perform successfully)
  • respectful engagement (engaging another in a way that sends a message of value and worth)
  • trusting (conveying that you believe they will meet your expectations; that they are dependable)
  • playing (where the connection goal is to have fun)

If you haven’t watched it before, YouTube has a great example of task enabling showing Mo Cheeks and Natalie Gilbert.  I’d strongly encourage you to stop here and take a look.  What specifically does he do?  And what is the impact on Natalie’s performance?



Then the broader question is: what is the impact of Mo’s action on the rest of the crowd?  Did you notice the way they got behind Natalie?

As humans, we have a hard-wired response of ‘other-serving’ rather than ‘self-serving’.  When we witness people helping others it creates a virtuous cycle; it is heliotropic.  And as this behavior of helping others to perform becomes a cultural way of ‘how we do things around here’ the positive ripples continue to spread.

When others enable me, I feel gratitude.  When I enable others, I feel generosity.  In both circumstances there is an increase in positive emotion and it adds to everyone’s learning.  These are additional reasons why task enablement is so potent.

So consider: Who are you enabling?  What are you doing to enable them?  Does your strategy suit them?  Who else could you enable?

Who is enabling you and do they know that they are making a difference to you?  Sometimes we can forget to give feedback to others on the positive impact they have on our lives.

If you drew a blank on both of these avenues, perhaps some more reflection is needed – and then some planning on how to bring task enablement into your skillset.  The personal, team and business results will compensate you for your efforts ten-fold.

Thanks again to Jane Dutton for sharing the science behind behaviours that we intuitively know make a difference to not only our relationships, but our performance and results too.

Author: Nicola Deakin