Do you have a good friend at work? Chances are if you work in a team environment and enjoy your job, you work with someone you would consider a good friend. It doesn’t matter if you are an introvert or extrovert, humans are social animals and having work friends is important to your overall happiness
Research by Gallup suggests the development of trusting relationships is a significant emotional compensation for employees in today’s marketplace. Too often, millennials are criticized for blurring the lines between work relationships and personal relationships. Given the always tuned on social media and always in pocket smart phone world that they have grown up in it increases the challenge for them to compartmentalize their relationships… and that’s a good thing.
While companies often pay significant attention to satisfaction surveys, including loyalty toward the organization, the best employers recognize that loyalty also exists among employees toward one another. Based on their research, Gallup believes “The best managers in the world observe that the quality and depth of employees’ relationships is a critical component of employee loyalty.”
So, how is a manager supposed to go about creating best friends forever (BFF) among their workforce? Certainly, a close friendship can never be formed from a forced experience.
Most quality friendships develop organically, as people invest little-premeditated thought in the process. When you think about your close friends today, for most of them, you didn’t set out with a focus on becoming their friend.
The good news is there are several things managers can do to help foster significant relationship building without making it feel contrived and forced.
One way to help facilitate close friendship building is to implement social interactions throughout the day. Do not frown upon water cooler chitchat. When I worked in an office (yes, I have spent some time in cubical office land), it would drive me nuts when people in the office would talk about last night’s show.
Other than a little distraction for me, what they were doing was actually a good thing for the workplace. They were developing a friendship through this social interaction. Now, if employees sitting nearby are constantly distracted by the water cooler chat, you may need to move the water cooler.
Perhaps some of these negative feelings I had heard this chitchat about last night’s show was a little resentment that I didn’t have anyone on the team I considered a close friend and could chat about my interests with.
Other ways to encourage relationship building is to share one thing you are proud of this week or perhaps use one of the questions on my list of 100 Questions to Spark Authenticity. Finding commonalities in your life, learning a person’s history and ultimately the willingness to be vulnerable, forms quality friendships quicker.
Asking these questions creates an atmosphere for these interactions to occur. The more we understand each other, the more we are likely to help each other out at work. This exercise also works for people working on virtual teams.
I once had a co-worker take away all the garbage and recycling bins from everyone’s cubical to create a more social environment. Having single centralized garbage and recycling bin forces everyone to get up from their desks to deposit their waste, which often creates the proverbial water cooler chitchat.
These are just a few of the countless little things you can do to create social interactions at work. Be creative and true to your personality as you look for the right activities for your group. The best ideas are often a Google search away.
In today’s rapid-fire change, reorganization, layoffs, mergers, and acquisitions, having best friends at work may be the true key to effective change integration and adaptation not just for millennials but for everyone!
Action: In the next week, create at least one opportunity for non-work social interaction within your team.
Until next time… Embrace the Adventure
Shawn Stratton is an international leadership and team building consultant, professional speaker, bestselling author, and Ironman competitor.
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© 2017 Shawn Stratton. All rights reserved
100 Questions to Spark Authenticity: