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Why You Need a Friend at Work

© Shawn Stratton

© Shawn Stratton

For a team to operate at a baseline team members need to get along and have a basic respect for one another, for your team to operate at the highest level you need them to care about each other. In order to improve communication, teamwork, and morale you need to develop an understanding of who your teammates really are. The highest performing teams are first and foremost friends. Now, why is that? Well, high performing teams are connected more by social bonds than talent. Just having a friend at work can increase your work productivity by 17%. It’s not hearsay, research shows this!

So, how can one create strong social bonds in a team? Well, let us take a look at a few tips and find out:

Let Other People Feel Safe around You

In order to create strong social bonds, you need people to feel safe be venerable with around you. Sharing past struggles or stories about your family will allow people to empathize with you more.

Search for Reasons to Like

The more you socialize with a person, the more you begin to understand them and eventually like them. So, don’t go around picking flaws and search for a few reasons to adore your friends at work.

Understanding Increases Productivity

Leaders need to create time to get to know more about their team members and for the team to learn more about each other. This understanding can then help overcome obstacles and improve conflict management and problem solving skills.

In fact, here’s an interesting story which shows just how important social bonding is. About 20 years ago NASA, found that although they gave the best technical training to their astronauts, they failed to provide opportunities for them to create social bonds. NASA now believes teamwork and developing friendship can help overcoming challenges.

And, so at the beginning of each mission teams training, the group would usually go on an wilderness expedition with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) for two weeks. Now, why would NASA do that? Well, if a group doesn’t actually care about each other, they would be unable to perform at their best and solve problems. Another example of this was apparent at a weekend symposium conducted by the Elmwood Institute, where a group of 6 Native Americans were made to converse with Caucasians. Typically, the Native Americans were suspicious of the other group until a woman from among them introduced herself by describing her tribe, where she was raised and how she was connected to the land, laying down a marker that everyone had to share the same before the meeting could continue. It eventually led to an emotional connection based on one simple factor: the place where everyone came from.

As you can see, social bonds can start being formed in introductions. There’s a saying that goes “There are no strange people in the world, just those who require a little more understand”. So, now here’s a challenge for you: Take the time out to learn about the people around you and try understanding them to benefit from higher productivity and improved engagement with your team.