Work Friends Can Be Tricky: 5 Tips to Make These Relationships Stick
Last year, I warned you about six work friends to keep on your radar. These colleagues included frenemies that could potentially harm your shot at future promotions, pay raises, and other advancements in the workplace. While there are people you should avoid in the workplace, I would be remiss if I did not mention the importance of cultivating healthy relationships on the job.
Forming bonds in the workplace can be challenging due to heavy workloads, back-to-back deadlines, and overall stress on the job. However, researchers say, work friends ultimately lead to increased productivity at the individual and organizational level.
Employees in their 20’s and 30’s spend more time at work than at home or in leisure environments. You might as well find friendships to make your time at work more entertaining and meaningful. Here are five ways to grow your influence and maintain workplace friendships without introducing distractions or diminishing the value of your work.
- Give Credit Where Credit is Due
Compliment your coworkers. Positive reinforcement doesn’t have to come from the top. Take a moment to let your colleagues know that they are appreciated. According to a Gallup poll, people who have a best friend at work are 43% more likely to receive positive feedback and praise in a standard work week. Competition is fierce in every organization, but don’t let it stop you from supporting your teammates. The more you act as a positive team player, the more likely you are to attract other positive people who will respect both you and your work.
- Be Helpful and Know When to Ask for Help
In order to grow within your company, it is vital for you to recognize your weaknesses and devise ways to improve. The best way to do this is to find a coworker with expertise in your weak areas and ask them for help. Admit to your shortcomings and ask for their guidance. Even if you both started in the same year and work in the same position, there are opportunities to learn new processes and skills.
Vice versa, you should be unafraid to offer wisdom to others. Your value within the company will not diminish if you help your colleagues. However, only offer advice when it is requested or the run the risk of coming off as condescending. But having confidence in your capabilities will garner admiration. Your work friends will appreciate you for taking an interest in their success and your supervisor will notice your team spirit.
- Be Genuine in Your Actions
The most valuable currency on any team is trust. Become friends with colleagues you feel you have a genuine connection with. Don’t just try to become friends with people you think will further your career. While this is important, authentic relationships are equally as important for your happiness and sense of fulfillment in the workplace. Initiate your professional friendships with sincerity and you will set a precedent for healthy work relationships throughout your career.
- Start An Employee Resource Group
Thousands of companies have employee resource groups. While these groups are often created for those with marginalized identities, like gender, race, sexuality and disability, to have a community with which to network without being judged for external attributes, groups are also created based on common interests like baseball or community service. Ask your employer for permission to start a group and promote diversity and inclusion while sharing the company’s mission and organizational practices. You’ll meet like-minded individuals and many of your working relationships will become authentic friendships.
- Arrange After-Work Social Events
Bust out of the break room and go beyond the watercooler chatter. Survey your work friends about their favorite activities and gauge whether or not they’d want to spend time outside of the workplace. When taken out of the work context people will be more likely to be themselves and share things about their personal lives. Happy Hour is a great and affordable way to unwind and bond with colleagues.
If you’re feeling skeptical about drinking with colleagues, invite them to cool local events that align with your shared interests.
No matter how you approach making new work friends, always be patient and allow these relationships to develop naturally. Having a work friend isn’t merely a way to survive a boring work day, it’s a long-term investment in your happiness at work and the reach of your professional network.