Sunday, January 2nd, 2011
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Eileen Habelow, Ph.D. of Randstad
You work with them about 8 hours a day, 250 days out of the year. Depending on your line of work, you may see them more than you see friends and family. Your co-workers are an integral part of your ability to do your job, to develop and succeed in your career and even to ensure your day-to-day happiness. In this year’s Randstad Work Watch survey on coworker relationships, 70 percent of respondents said that workplace friendships create a more supportive and friendly workplace. That’s why building healthy, trusting relationships with these people is so important.
I am not suggesting intimate and lifelong friendships, but rather relationships based on mutual respect and a foundation of trust. We are often very different from the people we work with, and therefore a close and comfortable friendship is not always in the cards. This is perfectly alright and often ideal for business as diversity facilitates problem-solving, collaboration, ingenuity and business stability. Imagine if everyone was like you and there were no bossy overachievers or quirky IT guys. Who would make sure every deadline was met and the company’s computer system didn’t crash?
Acknowledging and accepting your coworkers’ differences is the first step in developing a healthy work environment. The second is figuring out how to develop trusting relationships despite those differences. Here are a few ways to develop trust with even the most difficult coworkers.
Healthy relationships are founded on trust and an understanding of who the other person is. People can sense when you’re trying to be someone you’re not, and that façade will put people on their guard. It is hard to work with someone whose personality you can’t predict or whose character you can’t put your finger on. Remember to be yourself, especially in situations when you might be less comfortable – that’s when we are most likely to put up a front.
View Work as a Team Effort
Often coworker relationships can be ridden with competitive tension. It is important to receive credit for the great work you are doing, but it doesn’t have to be at another’s expense. Taking all the credit can feel like a stab in the back to a coworker and create distrust. Next time you have a “big win” at the office, consider whether or not it was achieved single-handedly. Most likely you had some help along the way and those people would appreciate recognition as well.
Deliver on Promises
Coworkers depend on each other to complete tasks and meet deadlines. Following through for a coworker helps the success of the team and should be taken just as seriously as a promise made to a superior. If you feel like you are taking on more than you can handle, let your coworker know and work together to establish a new plan of action. By failing to follow through you not only let your coworker down, but also you establish a record of unreliability.
You cannot expect people to trust you if you don’t trust them back. Take a moment and reflect on your workplace relationships. Are you distrusting? See if any of the above scenarios apply to your coworkers. Are you having trouble reading someone? Did a coworker take all the credit for a group project or let you down on a tight deadline? If so, see if you can make amends or give them another chance to prove their reliability.
We try our best to surround ourselves with trusting relationships in our personal lives. Why shouldn’t we do the same in our professional lives? Think about those people in your life who have helped you develop, succeed and live happily. Chances are they are people with whom you share mutual trust and respect. Why not develop the same type of friendships at work?
Eileen Habelow, Ph.D., is the senior vice president of Organizational Development with Randstad, a global provider of HR solutions and staffing.
* Need a boost to your work happiness? Then check out the Happy at Work Project and start one yourself.
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Image courtesy of Todd Baker