Many of us will spend a large portion of our days at work. In fact the average person will spend over 90,000 hours which is 1/3 of their life.
While some people still go to work every day with absolute strangers, a growing number of people are building important friendships with coworkers because they realise the impact that a good working relationship can have on their time in the office.
Building effective relationships in the workplace can be tricky, as there are many politics to learn for a new employee. If you’re looking to build workplace relations with your team, you need to follow a few simple tips to succeed. In order to build strong professional and even personal relationships with your coworkers, follow these 8 tips.
1. Identify The Friendly People
When you’re arriving at a new workplace, you will be overwhelmed with the number of new names and faces you’ll have to identify and meet. Your best bet will be to be friendly, open, and earnest. Don’t be afraid to carry a small notepad and write everyone’s names down. People will appreciate the effort.
When you’re making the rounds, take the time to assess everyone that you speak to. You should be able to get a pretty quick sense of who the friendlier people are and who might be a little pricklier. While you shouldn’t write anyone off right away, you’re sure to have a lot of questions on day one and will need to seek out friendly people who can help you.
The people who seem the most helpful will be your anchor in your first days on the job. They might not be the people you work with the most but they can be a great place to start when building work relationships. If you forget someone’s name, be gracious but try not to forget it again. Make up a simple rhyme or association to say in your head like “Mark said he likes to eat lunch in the nearby park”.
2. Get To Know Everyone On Your Team
Your team is going to be the most important group of people in the company to you. Whether you’re friends with everyone or sometimes disagree with them, you’re going to have to stand up and defend their ideas the most. You might find yourself as the mouthpiece for your department or team so make sure you get to know them well.
While you’re sure to have a lot of different personality types that make up your team, you need to find a way to get along with everyone. Some people will be outwardly friendly, others will like to gossip, and some might not pull their weight. Don’t worry about these things, even if you’re helping to lead the team.
You need to lead by example, stay focused on the task at hand, and help to motivate others. No one is motivated by frustration at the workplace. Find positive ways to spin any situation so that you can get people on your side and moving wit a forward momentum.
3. Make A Regularly Scheduled Lunch
You need to build relationships beyond the specific projects that you work on with your team. This will help you to relate to each other on a personal level. When tensions run high and things start to get frustrating, knowing one another on a human level will keep things from getting out of hand.
The best way to talk to one another about the mundane or personal things that motivate you is to create a lunch where you can sit down and chat regularly. If you can get together every two weeks or at least once a month, you can check in with one another’s families and personal lives. Being able to talk about the people you love creates a path to see one another in a new way.
You can also have fun and joke around, celebrating your own accomplishments. Your executive teams might see your milestones as just another day on the job but you will know how much you all struggled to meet a given deadline. By taking a lunch together, you can talk about who did what and why you’re proud to be working alongside them.
4. Break Down What You Offer Team Members
Knowing what your team members can offer you is important but taking that perspective is a little more pessimistic than you should be. At a new job, you should come from the position of telling your co-workers what you have to offer them. If you see someone struggling with something that you know you could fix, offer to give your advice on how to get out of that rut.
Telling people what you offer before you ask anything of them will feel fresh and exciting to them. Most people only ask what others can do for them. A truly rare person will offer something first. Think about your purpose, what you want to offer in the future, and what you can offer them right now.
5. Understand Where Conflicts Come From
You should get to know where conflicts come from on your team and why they arise. As an outsider, you’re not privy to the history of why people interact the way that they do. This can be a good thing, as you’ll be able to speak about issues in an objective way.
If you notice that one member always seems upset when they receive the reports or project handed to them by another person, perhaps you can run an interception. Take a look at how the other person has the data organized or has done their work. Compare it to what the receiving coworker expects to receive.
You might be able to uncover a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication in how things are done. One party might think that things are meant to be done in one order while the other party might think its another. Rather than have to watch them bump heads for another day, step in to mediate.
If you think that would do more harm than good, talk to one party and see if they can understand what you saw in their work. They might be looking to end the conflict and will be happy about the perspective you can offer.
6. Remember That You’re the New Person
Always keep in mind that you’re new at the office and don’t know everything. Even if you’re only been there a year, the people who have been there for 5 or 10 know a little more than you do. Defer to their institutional knowledge and experience for things you know they’re experts on. While you won’t be the new person forever, in the minds of long-time staffers, you’ll always know slightly less than them. Learn to be okay with that.
Being the new person means that you come to the office fresh and without the baggage and hassles of some of the people who have been there. But remember that your main goal is to create support and connections to one another. Get comfortable being the new person but keep a smile on your face.
7. Respect Boundaries
When you’re building relationships with your coworkers, you need to respect the fact that some people don’t want to have relationships outside of work. For some people, they like to keep their work and their personal relationships separate. While this isn’t the case for everyone, it’s certainly the case for an older generation of staff.
Whereas you might think of the workplace as a great way to meet people to go out on a Friday night with, that’s not necessarily everyone’s aims. Some people don’t want to to talk about family, friends, or loved ones. Some people stay focused on the task and hand and don’t like to mix the two worlds.
IF you’re getting the vibes from someone that you should stop asking about a person or a subject, follow their lead. Don’t wait for someone to interject before you respect their boundaries. To be an effective leader in the future, you need to know their boundaries.
8. Thank, Support, Criticize, Support
Once you’ve been at your new job for awhile, it won’t be long before people want to know your opinions on things. If you’re tasked with giving your opinion about something you have a negative reaction to or simply don’t like, learn a little tact for that.
When you’re talking about the work that someone has done, which they might feel deeply connected to, make sure you talk about it positively. Always couch your criticism inside of a nest of support.
Support people before you say something negative about their idea. Let them know that their idea has validity and that you don’t mean the feedback personally. Anyone working in a professional context should be able to take criticism and give it on equal footing.
Workplace Relations Take An Investment
If you want your workplace relations to succeed you need to be able to be flexible. Not everyone will want to be your friend from day one. What’s important is that you always remain open and gracious, acting with good faith toward your coworkers. If you have additional questions on how to build a strong relationship with your coworkers, contact us for tips.