Learning how to build relationships within a team or company can lead to personal growth and plenty of professional opportunities. But there’s no doubt that fostering authentic relationships with colleagues can be challenging. So, here are a few ways to build stronger relationships with coworkers in order to improve the quality of your work life, open up doors for personal and professional development, and add value to your organization’s culture.
1. Discover your interests.
Get to know yourself before you try to get to know others. There are a variety of tools out there to help you do this. With Motivosity, an “operating system for culture,” employees can fill out profiles and personal goals. They can even take a personality assessment to better understand themselves and find similarities to other employees. Motivosity’s “Interest Map” will help you identify individual and group interests that can come in handy when attending or organizing new team activities.
Another way to enlighten yourself and your coworkers is through GallupStrengths, a strengths finder to help people discover what they do best. One idea is to schedule one-on-ones with your colleagues to share and discuss your results as a way to get to know each other on a more personal level. Whether your goal is to coordinate team activities or just join those planned by others, pairing interests with strengths will help you decide which activities to join.
2. Volunteer together.
Volunteering helps provide the human connection that’s sometimes lost in a business environment. Allocate some time each quarter to a volunteer group that gets you out of the office. VolunteerMatch lets you pick from opportunities in 29 different cause areas in order for you and your team to get away from computer screens and any rote memory processes that cause burnout. Teams are usually happy to spend a day outside working in animal sanctuaries, planting trees, or cleaning canyon roads.
LinkedIn for Volunteers is a hidden treasure that provides immense skill-based volunteer opportunities. It’s also an excellent resume booster. While these opportunities usually manifest themselves as an individual opportunity, you can reach out to your organization and let them know you’d like to commit team time to the task. Each colleague can consider their strengths when choosing team roles to make the opportunity a little more efficient. And don’t forget, this can be a great chance to take on a skill set outside your everyday job description, all while learning more about your partners’ abilities and interests.
3. Create a Meetup with people who share your interests.
With conflicting schedules, sometimes it’s easier to start a new activity than to coordinate the inclusion of your colleagues in an existing event or group. A great solution to this is to create a meet-up that occurs in your office. Consider workload, seasons, and holidays before prioritizing new projects or events, but be open to everyone’s goals. Meetup has a great community if you’re scrounging for ideas or looking to expand your group to include new, experienced members. It’s easy to sign up, free, and provides an all-inclusive calendar feature that does well with Gmail updates. Before you know it, you and co-workers will be swapping books and recipes and playing chess together.
4. Inspire a culture of gratitude.
It shouldn’t just take a manager to say “thank you” or acknowledge hard work in the office. Celebrating small wins can help improve employee morale and relationships with colleagues. You might want to rely on the ‘Hide-a-slide’ method when leading projects or reviewing weekly tasks in team sprints. You do this by inserting a slide in your presentation that acknowledges a recent accomplishment made by a teammate. Take a minute or two to publicly commend that colleague by telling their story. This small acknowledgement will go a long way in motivating your teammates.
Sometimes an individual’s accomplishments deserve a little more. It’s never a bad idea to request 15 minutes out of larger department meetings to acknowledge a co-workers’ dedication. This can be bi-weekly, monthly, or as needed. Driving appreciation for co-workers will not only positively impact relationships with recognized colleagues, but also with your superiors.
5. Make appreciation personal.
Say “thank you” and then say “thank you” again. Public praise will help benefit your colleagues, but in order to make a stronger connection, you want to create conversation. Wrap up with a thank-you card describing your appreciation for your teammate and his or her dedication. Make sure to explain what the perseverance accomplished for both of you, and the company. Providing a personal touch will help solidify your appreciation and potentially create more conversation in the future.
Thank-you notes could also be used as an opportunity to invite a colleague to join you in personal interests outside the office, like a small business ideation group or a coffee date on the weekend.
6. Use community resources.
A great way to work on team building and camaraderie can be through a little competition. Open gyms at rec centers or community centers can come with a crowd and a price, but churches and schools allow hourly reservations, and don’t typically charge if you respect the people and property. Take some time and reach out to the associated officials nearby—a pickup game of basketball or volleyball can help tighten trust between colleagues and blow off a little steam after work hours. You might even be able to use exercise towards credit for your insurance discounts. And while exercising, you’ll find that you’re frequently talking through current projects or taking the time to offer one another advice.
Building strong relationships doesn’t happen overnight, but if you take the initiative to start through one of these methods, you’ll be one step closer to bonding with the people with whom you spend most of your time. By combining skillsets and interests, you’ll likely find confidence in your work relationships—and that you’re a much more open and creative employee.
Laura Cryst works as a digital marketing specialist at Salt Lake City-headquartered Clearlink. Cryst’s passions include language, employee growth, and volunteerism. Clearlink, a marketing company that “helps brands create customers,” has received several awards for its workplace culture. Outside magazine has named it one of the “100 Best Places to Work” and Workplace Dynamics has named it one of the “Top 15 Places to Work.”
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