I refuse to pigeon- hole myself, but I’ve enjoyed getting back to my initial focus for this blog, “relationship marketing.” I returned to this focus primarily because I was beginning to see a theme and I didn’t want to fall into the trap of becoming one of those annoying Gen Y Bloggers. (The ones that make my bi-monthly top 10 list aren’t annoying of course.)
Why did I write about social media? Because those tools made it easier to connect and build relationships.
Why did I write about Gen Y? Because that was the demographic group I typically most readily identified with.
Since the transition I have written and vlogged a few posts about connecting with others in a peer-to-peer networking sense. I’ve written about connecting with customers. I even gave you 25 ways to bolster your own relationship marketing efforts. One of the things I had neglected to discuss was internal relationship marketing. That’s why I let my boss write about connecting with employees.
I’ve turned over a lot of stones, but one I have neglected to this point is about the people that most of us encounter every single day: co-workers.
6 Ways to Build Better Relationships with Co-Workers
1.) Share what you learn.
Why do companies and universities value diversity? Because it provides a wide range of knowledge and experience that people can teach one another. We all come from different backgrounds and have different experiences. That’s true and most of us get that. A lot of this we kind of learn intuitively but share it anyway. What I’m really getting at though is much simpler. Share the stuff that crosses in front of you every day.
If I read something of value in my reader I try to make a conscious effort to pass it on to everyone else. If you read a book and a few quotes and/or significant points stand out jot them down, type them up, and e-mail them to your co-workers. It might take you 10 extra minutes, and provide the insight and value to really make a difference. Keeping all that insight to yourself is selfish.
2.) Collaborate on projects.
This is especially true of Gen Y who are used to working together in groups their entire lives in school. Hell, my entire graduate school experience felt like group work. Sure, sometimes it’s better to bury your head and knock a report out, but the saying “Two heads is better than one,” is usually true.
Brainstorming in a group and letting the ideas build off one another has been a particularly valuable strategy for me. What if the target audience you’re trying to reach is Mommy bloggers and sports enthusiasts? Chances are the Mom will get more traction with the Mommy bloggers crowd and the college athlete will have more luck with the sports people. Some people are ridiculously creative, others are strategic left-brains, combine efforts to execute both aspects of a project.
3.) Review documents for each other.
How many times have you been staring at the same document for an hour and you just can’t get over the hump? How many times is one sentence incredibly awkward and you know that one of your co-workers could fix it in a second? Some people are scared to ask. Others will say they’re in the middle of something, or give you the impression that it’s just not their responsibility.
I’m glad I don’t work with people like that. If I’m sending out an important document, I get my peers to make sure it sounds good, that there aren’t any glaring gaps, and that it would make sense to our clients. Today I even asked someone to read over a comment I was going to post on a blog. It’s a small task, it will usually only take a few minutes, help your co-workers out.
4.) Go to Happy Hour.
Don’t get drunk and obnoxious at happy hour, but your office should have one. It’s nice to get to know each other outside of the office. When you learn that your office administrator’s husband is in a band, or that your boss likes to smoke cigars it helps build camaraderie. You start to see that sometimes you have stuff in common aside from working the same 9-5.
Some people employees don’t like discussing business at happy hour. I respect that. Our office usually doesn’t if everyone goes out, but if it’s only a few of us sometimes somebody will say, “You remember how …… happened? What if we would have done ….. to combat that?” The next thing you know you’re coming up with brilliant business ideas because you’re just having fun and there’s no pressure, you’re not confined to the way your brain works at the office.
5.) Really get to know each other.
Going to happy hour helps, but there’s more to it than that. You need to really pay attention to your co-workers, like a coach would his team, so that you know how to approach everyone, and how they operate in general on a day to day basis. For example, maybe you don’t talk to Bridget before she’s had her morning coffee. Maybe there’s no consoling Rocky once he’s riled up. Talk to him after he’s calmed back down. Don’t argue with Stan unless you have facts carved into the Tabula Rasa because he’s usually right, and when he’s not he can probably wear you down anyway.
Understanding the dichotomy of the people you work with makes the office a more pleasant place. It also lets your co-workers know that you’ve taken the time to understand, and that you care enough to try and do the things that work best for everyone involved.
6.) I saved this one for you guys. How do you develop better relationships with your co-workers?
Admittedly, I haven’t been in the “real-world” work force for very long. These are just things that seemed to have worked for me thus far, but I certainly don’t have all the answers. Not even close. Our office is predominantly very young. What are strategies you use to connect to older co-workers? Younger co-workers? How do you deal with the people who hide out in their cubicle, if at all? How do you deal with the office jerk? The water cooler snob?
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