“Life is beautiful because of the people we meet.” (Simon Sinek, Together is better (2016), pp. 92).
How much would you say you like your work colleagues?
Are they OK? Bearable? Or do you really consider them to be good friends? People that you look forward to working with? Or is this concept totally new to you?
Have you ever said the words “I don’t need to be friends with the people I work with” or that “I don’t go to work to make friends”?
Well, I can definitely put my hand up and admit to that. And I really thought I knew what I was talking about.
This was in a time pre-job #8 where I believed that friendships at work weren’t important. I thought as long as we’re respectful and professional in our dealings with each other friendships weren’t a must.
Boy, was I wrong!
It wasn’t until job #8 that I experienced what it was like to truly enjoy the company of my work colleagues.
Not only did I enjoy working with them every day, I’d really looked forward to our dinners, lunches and get-togethers.
We were friends.
Good friends that went above and beyond for each other at work which produced a company that was bloody good at what it did.
And we had a kick-ass time together at our social events. I tell you, this took loving your job to a whole new level for me.
In other places where I worked, regardless of the attempts made through parties, lunches and dinners, I never felt comfortable in developing the same type of friendships that I had at job #8.
Even when I genuinely tried that awkward feeling never disappeared. Even with the parties, lunches and dinners.
It’s not that anything bad would happen at these social events and yes we’d have a few laughs here and there, and people were usually decent to be around. But basically I’d be thinking, “Have I stayed long enough?” Or, “I wonder if it’d be OK if I left now?”
Don’t get me wrong. In most places where I worked there’d be one or two closer colleagues that I hung out with at most of these events. Only really lingering around for the time that they were there and then once they left I’d be looking for the door.
I remember a work colleague at job #9 clung to me for her life during some of the work parties as she found it great how I’d make my way out of the parties so fast. The fact that I interrupted people to say “we’re going, bye” made her happy and relieved to get out of there quickly and smoothly. I guess she didn’t feel comfortable either.
Despite the one or two closer relationships, with the majority of the people I worked with it was a formal relationship where only polite disengaged chitchat would happen.
Although these experiences weren’t bad, they were never that great either.
No real connections were made over these conversations where you had to think about what you’re going to say just to keep the conversation going and avoid an awkward pause.
So, what was it about my colleagues at job #8 that made me consider them good friends?
It all had to do with the way they treated me when I was working with them.
Because of the environment we were in, because of the tone set by the leader, everyone was treated with the utmost respect. Now if you’ve been reading all my blogs I’m not going to drive you nuts by going into detail about job #8’s environment again. If you’re just joining me click here to get the detail.
If someone treated me in a way that was unfair or insulting why would I want to spend more time with them than I had to? Even if it was a party?
The fact that there’d be free alcohol and food made no difference to me.
The people were the same.
Although during these events, yes, their moods were a bit better, but so what?
This didn’t change my past experiences with them. And this alone wouldn’t change the way they’d deal with me in the future. I proved this myself after making a few attempts to get closer to a few people as friends and it didn’t make a difference.
What type of friendship am I talking about?
I remember a colleague at job #9 saying to me that she didn’t think being friends with the people you worked with was a good thing as it’d make certain situations more awkward than what they already were.
You see, when we talk about friends in general we tend to think back to our school days and think about those friendships we had with people who were as crazy about Janet Jackson as we were.
It was the type of friendship where if you thought your friend’s artwork looked shit you’d probably tell them it wasn’t that bad. Am I right? What difference did it make if you liked it or not? At that time keeping your friend was much more important.
It isn’t that type of friendship that I’m talking about.
Don’t forget we’re talking about the corporate world and you’re about ten years past high school if not more.
We’re in a much mature setting and we’re there for a common goal. We’re there to achieve success career wise and to prove how valuable we are to the company we work for.
And by this time we’ve learnt to take criticism and we can develop mature friendships where our honest thoughts and opinions about a piece of work can be shared, achieving the goal in mind while at the same time having a laugh along the way.
It’s these types of friendships that would make the process at work smoother for one reason along … because it would increase cooperation!
Yep, you want increased productivity in your company? Cooperation is the key!
“Like any relationship, some will get along and some won’t. But in time, cooperation will happen.” (Simon Sinek, Leaders Eat Last (2012), pp. 165).
But, one thing many people get wrong, it that cooperation isn’t something that can be given as an instruction. It can’t be ordered no matter who’s giving the order.
It’s a feeling. Like trust and respect. You can’t be ordered to trust and respect someone, it’s something that develops over time through friendship – can you see where I’m going with this?
“A team is not a group of people who work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other.” Simon Sinek, Together is better (2016), pp. 66.
At job #8 we were all happy to go above and beyond for our work colleagues because we liked each other. It’s as simple as that. We were friends.
At other places I worked this didn’t exist. Not even for the simplest tasks.
Let me give you one example.
One of my marketing colleagues was working on a job that another colleague within the company was urging her to finish as it was urgent! Urgent! Urgent!
My colleague got the work to her to sign off and once it was signed off it was back on my colleague’s desk.
When my colleague saw it on her desk she looked livered! Almost like she lost hope in human beings altogether.
She couldn’t believe that the other colleague didn’t pass it onto the next person to sign off, but put it on her desk to pass on. This meant that it was on her desk for a while as she had just come back from a meeting, during which time the job could’ve been signed off by the next person.
“I thought it was urgent? Why aren’t YOU helping me to get it done for YOU? This is for YOU…right?”
Such a simple action and yet the other colleague wasn’t willing to do it as she didn’t consider it her job.
Do you still think friendships at work aren’t important?
Trust, respect and cooperation are feelings not instructions. And these feelings aren’t developed in a company where their main attempt at improving work culture is by throwing in a few parties, lunches and dinners.
A genuine attempt needs to be made by the company to encourage the development of friendships through daily activities starting from the top down.
How would you describe the relationship you have with your work colleagues?
Do you look forward to your work parties? Or, are they awkward? Do you spend most of your time with two or three of your colleagues and then leave when they leave? Tell me about it.
Next week… ever had that feeling where you didn’t know what the hell your manager wanted from you? I’m going to talk about why this happens.
Talk to you then.