Do you have friends at work… here’s why it will help your career

Everyone wants to feel they belong. One of the three highest needs for any individual is the sense of belonging.

As humans, we underestimate the impact of building solid work relationships. By belonging to a group, we feel as if we’re part of something bigger and (sometimes) something more important than ourselves.

Work vs personal relationships? Or both?

I have come across a few team members that once they arrived at work, go directly to their office / work station, put their heads down and start with their “to do” list. And when the day is done, they  leave the office with no or very little interaction with any colleague. I was intrigued and when I questioned these people as to why they haven’t built (or prioritised) work relationships, they said that it intimidates them, and they prefer to keep their professional and personal lives separate. To some extent I understood, but, my response to this particular team member was that they are possibly spending more time at the office than with their loved ones.

This made them think.

The 2018 Gallop’s employee engagement survey includes the question “Do you have a best friend at work?” and their research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort team members spend in their job.  The research highlights that women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who say otherwise (29%).

We all know that any relationship is a give-and-take and that you basically invest in it. Whether with your spouse, partner, children, friends… so why don’t work team members make the time to connect and build stronger relations with the people they work with?

Firstly, it will make you going to work much more pleasurable, even though you may be an introvert. Secondly, you learn quite a bit about other people once you start to engage with others. It also makes sense to have a work colleague who you can trust in a work environment.

 Make emotional connections. Social integration at work is key.

  • How do you connect with the colleagues at work?
  • Do you proactively surround yourself with the right people?
  • Do you actively focus on building trust relationships with your peers, team members and manager to reach your professional potential?

Having good working relationships with colleagues will improve your overall performance and optimism in the workplace.

Here are a few reminders for connecting with colleagues in the workplace:

  • Don’t skip the cafeteria/coffee station – you may not hold “small talk” in high regard but it is a fundamental part of establishing relationships at work (similar to the smoking corner).
  • Be the mentor you wish you had – one of the best ways to build a strong connection is to share advice, guidance and lessons learned. Be intentional about guiding and leading conversations with younger colleagues.
  • Be open to new ideas – create a psychologically safe space where everyone can have their say and not be afraid to try new, innovative things; even if it means failing. Foster a culture of NFFF (‘no fear for failure’). We all will benefit by focusing on the behaviour of ‘forget the mistake, remember the lesson’.
  • Ask for help – one of the easiest ways to connect with colleagues is to ask for their help. Getting advice will not only help you but will foster stronger connections. Don’t wait for others, be willing to make the first move and be sure to return the gesture.
  • Revisit your on-boarding practices – starting a new job is a demanding and often stressful experience for new employees. Introduce an on-boarding buddy system; the buddy can share “unwritten rules” and be the “go to person” to clarify any seemingly unimportant matters. It is sometimes less intimidating for a new member to connect with another team member vs having to ask management.
  • Steer away from gossip – there will always be gossip, but the purpose of building strong work relations is built on trust. Office gossip doesn’t help anyone and will certainly also not help your professional career if you are stuck in those conversations. Rather walk away.

Do you make time in your busy schedule to build relationships and making connections beyond your immediate team? Take action, start small, be authentic, and remember it is all about building relationships that are good and will benefit you, others, and the organisation.

#HealthyCulture #ConnectionsMatters #WomenInLeadership #FriendsatWork

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