Whether you work in the one-room office of a startup or the headquarters of an international business, ONE Thing is certain – employee relationships can make or break an office’s productivity. However, keeping office relationships healthy and positive is no easy task, and it gets more difficult as the workplace becomes virtual.
Relationships are often complicated and they are always evolving. They require effort on everyone’s part, and unlike your personal life, in the workplace you may not get to choose who you interact with on a regular basis. Personality types sometimes clash, offices can be competitive and ambition can overrule friendliness. It’s not unheard of for the most difficult person in the office to suddenly become the life of the party during happy hour.
The big reassurance is that relationships can improve, particularly when you have the support of management to make the entire team more relatable. It all starts by building trust.
The Big Trust Factor
One key element among co-workers is trust. All good relationships require a certain level of trust, and this is particularly true when a person’s career is in the balance. Make no mistake, it takes time to develop trust and you have to continually work to maintain it. In professional relationships there are various types of trust:
- Interpersonal trust – Building trust by getting to know people personally.
- Swift trust – This occurs when relative strangers are thrown together for a project, and they have to give each other a certain level of blind trust.
- Deterrence-based trust – Occurs when one person is concerned with the threat of what will happen if they don’t follow through when working with others.
- Calculus-based trust – Uses calculation of costs and benefits for sustaining or ending a relationship.
- Identification-based trust – Understanding and internalizing the goals/desires of another and fully endorsing them along with shared needs.
Looking to build trust with your co-workers? Consider the following ways:
Have Common Goals – This is a basis for identification-based trust and gives you something to work towards with co-workers. Shared success is an immediate trust booster.
Interact Socially Online and In Person – Getting to know each other on a more personal level can help you better understand your co-workers’ personalities and what makes them tick.
Keep Communication Consistent – It’s not how much you’re talking but rather how much meaning is behind what’s being said. Make an effort to communicate consistently about the things that matter with your co-workers.
Encourage Power Shifts – In a group dynamic sharing authority can immediately help build trust. Consider letting different people take the driver’s seat at different stages of a project.
Be a Team Player – Help out whenever you can, not because it will win you brownie points but because you genuinely want to give your co-worker a hand.
Additional Office Relationship Tips
Once you’ve earned the trust of your co-workers, it’s easier to form positive relationships both in and out of the office. However, it’s an ongoing process, and it’s easier to lose trust than it is to build it.
Get Personal – Take the time to get to know your co-workers beyond their job role. Oftentimes you’ll realize you have a few things in common that help you build a bond.
Know the Company Culture – The company culture that everyone buys into can have a significant impact on how people relate.
Put on a Happy Face – Smiling immediately draws people in and makes you appear more likeable.
Address Any Elephants in the Room – If you have issues with another co-worker it’s best to address the problem and move on than try to avoid it.
Harbor Constructive Talk Rather Than Cattiness and Criticism – When interacting with co-workers, keep shoptalk constructive. Always consider the value that they are bringing to the team first, and never make it personal.
Understand Different People Require Different Approaches – Each person is unique in their communication style and their personal preferences. Study how co-workers interact with each other to get a better idea of which approach you should take with different people.
Want to win over your co-workers? Share The ONE Thing with others in your office! There’s a whole section with tips on how to bring co-workers on board with your ONE Thing and grow together as a team.