After moving every 2-3 years during my adult life, I have quite a few workplace experiences that have shaped the why I build relationships with my staff and coworkers alike. I have written with 8 Steps To Build Strong Workplace Relationships with these disclaimers in mind:
- Not all coworkers want to be friends. This is perfectly fine! This can be a hard fact to accept as a young professional.
- Some people have work personalities and home personalities. Keep an open mind (See this post) about someone’s tone or behavior at work before you pass judgement. How people behave at work might not be their authentic self.
- Feel the office vibe out before adding everyone on social media. Not everyone likes to have their coworkers on their social media page. Also think hard before adding staff on social media.
- Work besties are a gift from the universe.
1.Say HI! Ask the right questions.
Does your office have a window or glass walls? Do you employees or coworkers walk by all the time? Make eye contact, wave, say hello. Create a welcoming environment that will encourage people to come in and chat. The simplest way to do this is have an open door and/or make and effort to talk to your employees when you see them. Don’t just ask just “how are you?” ask a “Tell me, ….” question. This can be “Tell me, what was the best part of your day so far.” or “Tell me about your plans for the weekend.” These questions encourage more interaction than “I’m fine.” If you are taking the time to engage with your employees or coworkers, and they are taking the energy to respond, it is in your best interest to retain this information.
2. Create Personal Connections
Create personal connections through finding common ground. One of the best ways to do this is through asking thoughtful questions. Find a commonality and build from there. It is important to intentionally interact with all at your work place. Waving and saying hello as you walk by goes a long way but stopping in and chatting for a few minutes really leaves an impression and begins to build a rapport.
If someone made the effort to stop in, be present. For me when an employee or coworker comes in to talk I try to remember to turn off my monitors and give them my full attention. Turning all electronics off helps making eye contact a priority and also helps you actually listen to what is being said. While actively listening you will recognize the opportunities to ask questions and interject and contribute as needed. These habits will help create genuine dialogue.
4. Be Your Most Authentic Self
As I previously mentioned, there are some people who have a work personality and a home personality. This works for some people that are not looking to build relationships that are more than surface level. That is their prerogative. When working in environments with coworkers like this I have found that there is a lack of trust and a tense work environment. I 100% recommend putting forth your most authentic (work appropriate) self, 100% of the time. Don’t put on a front; employees and coworkers alike can tell it’s fake. OWN it! Own who you are and bring your positive attributes and talents to the table.
5. Set Boundaries
It is important, while being your most authentic self, to set boundaries. With direct employees it is extremely important to be relatable without crossing the line and compromising respect. I try not to ask personal questions unless the topic is brought up by the employee. Before I share a personal experience or story from the weekend with employees I think “Would I tell my boss this story?”. If you wouldn’t tell your boss, you shouldn’t tell your employees. With coworkers it helps to keep it light, appropriate until you build a rapport. Get to know them; build respect and trust before crossing personal boundaries. I personally encourage my staff to leave their emotional baggage or crisis for the day at the door when they walk in. “Check your baggage at the door.” Work should be a safe space and a place where they can focus on work. I try to do the same with anything that is happening in my personal life.
6. Do Not Isolate Yourself
Office location can be tough. I have had an office on the pool deck for years (opposite side of the building from everyone else), which I actually love. It gives me the opportunity to get out of my office, walk a lap about the building and check in with everyone a couple of times a day. If your office is not open with your employees work space, it allows you the chance to leave your office and check in with them. Leaving your office and talking with coworkers and employees also opens your office up for people to pop in.
7. Enjoy Team Building Activities
Many people are resistant to “mandatory fun” or team building activities but I love them. They are such a wonderful opportunity for coworkers to come together whether it is “WE HATE HEIGHTS!” or “WE LOVE BOWLING!”. Potlucks, ropes courses, game nights, the list is endless.
8. Engage & Facilitate Peer-to-Peer Recognition
Many employers have no idea how much positive affirmation can motivate an employee. Not only is it important to tell your employees you appreciate them regularly, creating peer-to-peer recognition programs for employees gives them a sense of ownership and empowers them to recognize their peers. This creates a positive work environment and increases morale.
Written By: Richelle