The office used to be a place where you would come, put in your eight hours, and go home to those who loved you. Work wasn’t a place where you expected friendships or significant connections. However, things have changed. There has been a shift within the workforce toward wanting meaningful work. Meaningful work can encompass a variety of things, from having a job you’re passionate about to working on a strong team and knowing you’re a valued member. And at the core of that meaningful work is the people you work with. Here are some ways to strengthen your relationship with those at work.
Keep it simple
If you’re just joining a company, set up an informal getting-to-know-you meeting. Get to know them. Ask them about their experience at the company, their expertise, and also ask them if they would be okay with you coming to them for questions because you are new.
Practice humility and gratitude
No one wants to work with a ‘know-it-all’ or someone that thinks they don’t need help. If you act this way, you will likely reduce the number of people that want to work with you. It’s important to let them know that you are here to learn from their expertise, and to do your best for the team. Always thank individuals that assist with your training and development, especially in the beginning, as this increases your probability to have positive working relationships.
Be an active listener and observer
Take time to understand the culture and norms before inserting your commentary. Make sure that you are showing respect for the company’s decisions and how they got to where they are today. This respect and curiosity will develop into stronger working relationships.
Be transparent and honest, even when it’s tough
If you’ve been in the work world for a while, you’ve had your share of good and bad on-the-job relationships. Acknowledge the challenge or issue that caused the strain and take responsibility. Do not deflect or play the blame game. Own your share of what made the relationship bad. Schedule a private meeting with the individual to have a conversation and apologize. It is never too late to apologize, ever.
Have clear expectations of the work relationships
For managers looking to improve their company culture or team dynamic, take small steps toward change and don’t set the bar too high for direct reports. Make sure your team understands what you expect of them. The more they have clarity, the more confidence they will have in their ability to do what is asked. If you have ambiguous expectations of your team, expect that it will be matched with frustration toward you, as you’re not giving them clear direction to support their success.
Give praise and recognition at least every two weeks. People want to be seen at work, they want to know that they matter. Praise and recognition are the ways to ensure employees feel their value. The more they know their value, the harder they will work.
Embrace individual differences
In this day and age, it can be intimidating or even nerve-wracking to try to bond with co-workers. After all, knowing what is appropriate according to each colleague, or how actions will be interpreted, can be tricky. As a general rule, practice care and respect for people and see them as individuals, not co-workers. Understand that we have all different backgrounds and experiences that lead us to who we are. Be respectful of those differences.