Life changed dramatically for us all once COVID hit our shores. Beyond the tragic loss of life and disruption of what had been “normal,” those of us in a typical office environment were suddenly working remotely from home. We struggled to learn the mechanics of Zoom, attended virtual work meetings with kids and spouse underfoot, and dealt with unexpected layers of stress. And we missed the opportunity to build better relationships at work.
More broadly, employees who took our organizational culture assessment reported that they felt suddenly estranged from their coworkers and yearned to find a more connecting way to operate as a team. So, how do you build better relationships at work?
Connections and Engagement
Making meaningful connections is a proven way to build team trust and increase team engagement at work. When you can deepen your understanding of the people working alongside you, you increase your social connections and strengthen both engagement and productivity. Learning more about the people you work with is an instrumental part of a healthy corporate culture.
The key to building better social connections at work is doing it significant-moment-by-significant-moment. The good news is that these moments can occur at any time and don’t take much energy. In fact, when you “sync” with a co-worker as you share a positive interaction, you build energy. These significant moments can be as simple as a moment of eye contact, a word of appreciation, or a brief chat about a pleasant weekend. The more moments like these, the more your relationships at work grow.
How to Build Better Relationships at Work
Based upon data related from new manager training participants and employee engagement surveys, here are a few tips on how to build better relationships at work and strengthen your relationships with coworkers:
- Take Advantage of Opportunities
Maybe you run into a co-worker in the parking lot or the cafeteria; perhaps you are both early on a Zoom meeting call; or you might just set up a one-on-one to catch up. Any and all of these are opportunities to check in and use the time to learn more about them and make a meaningful connection.
- Communicate with Positive Purpose
Be mindful of how important these moments can be. Don’t waste them with negative thoughts. Instead, focus on how you might help your co-workers or what you might learn from them.
- Be Present
Whatever the topic of your conversation, don’t get distracted by your phone or thinking about what is next on your to-do list. Show that you are fully present by maintaining eye contact, actively listening, and confirming your understanding with affirming comments.
- Inquire More than Advocate
Nothing can ruin a connecting moment faster than launching into a mini-lecture or focusing on yourself. It is far better to ask open-ended questions and to be genuinely interested in what matters most to your colleague.
The Bottom Line
High performing team members are strongly committed to each other and to achieving collective success. Great teams accomplish their goals faster, with better results, and more reliably over time. But most of all, they genuinely care about each other and value the positive connections. How does your team score in purposeful, engaged, trusting relationships?
To learn more about how to intentionally build better relationships at work, download 3 Must-Have Ingredients of High Performing Teams for New Managers