Building (Rebuilding) Bridges At Work
Why building bridges at work is important
Establishing good relationships, or building bridges, at work, leads to a higher sense of job fulfillment and a better awareness that you’re indeed striving to achieve your full potential, according to the Gallup study. Karen Jenn, a professor of management at the Wharton Business School, points out that friends at work are able to challenge each other’s ideas in a constructive, productive way, and people are more willing to take healthy risks at work when they have a strong, friendly support system in the office.
But how do you build a bridge with other people? Here are 5 tips to establish good relationships at work:-
- Initiate help you can offer
As the newest member of your company, your colleagues are likely to be keen to see what you can put on the table. Where possible, offer your experience and knowledge to project tasks and find ways to make yourself useful with the work your colleagues are undertaking. For example, you may schedule meetings to share how you can support or catalyze their work and better understand how your team works together. Ensure that you are not spreading yourself too thinly and never attempt to take on work that you are not comfortable tackling. Be strategic with your opportunities, and be sure to deliver your promises.
- Invest your time with your colleagues and try not to be selective
There is a common tendency to focus more time and effort impressing more senior stakeholders, and a temptation to dismiss or discount junior colleagues you perceive to be of a lower position in the office hierarchy ladder. However, your time and interaction with your colleagues are the opportunity grounds to showcase your sincerity and personality that can create positive impressions. Always remember that a reputation is built across all levels, not just among your boss and the management team. One will never know when one’s name may be brought up by whom, at where, and with who.
By establishing yourself as a reliable, helpful, and respectful member of the team among your junior colleagues as well as bosses and peers, you will go a long way to building long-lasting professional relationships.
- Deliver your promises
Nothing is worse than someone who fails to deliver on a promise or consistently misses deadlines. There is no faster way to destroy your reputation and spoil working relationships than failing to follow through on work or not replying to emails and requests for information and help.
If you do find yourself overloaded or short of time to follow up on everything it is important to be open and honest about it with your colleagues. Better to give someone a heads up and be honest than to fail to deliver with no explanation.
- Show yourself in meetings
Professional relationships are built on respect and there is no better way to earn the respect of your colleagues than by proving yourself as an active and valuable member of the team. And where better to prove that you are actively contributing than in meetings. Show up prepared, provide your opinions, support others objectively, and be proactive and partake in proceedings.
While this might be different while operating remotely, ensure your camera is on and that you regularly engage with those presented in team meetings. This will help the team put a face to your name and will make it easier for you to get to know who is who in the team.
- Be positive
A key part of building healthy relationships is to retain a positive attitude towards your new colleagues. It may be difficult to completely avoid office politics and gossip – this is just a reality of working in close quarters. However, as a new face on the team, it is important that you stay away from these negative activities.
The nuances of how a large team works together and relates are complex and more often than not, there is only damage to be done by getting too involved in gossip or politics. Do not risk derogating someone or joining in a joke at someone else’s expense and hurting your reputation in the early stages. Before you know it, the gossip will be about you and it is hard to win back a tarnished reputation.
Hard work, honesty, and a positive professional demeanor are traits that will take you a long way in your career and also ones that will help you to make an impact in any new role. By respecting your colleagues and proving your value by offering your time, experience, and expertise you can quickly build meaningful professional relationships which will carry you through not only the early months in your new job but your long-term future with the organization.
It is also important to recognize the challenges that working from home may present, not just to yourself, but to your team and peers. Creating a motivating culture for remote teams is crucial in the current climate.
The first few months of joining a new company can be both intimidating and stressful, as most of us will tend to try to prove our high self-worth. Whether we’re you are an intern, contract worker, or permanent staff, who doesn’t want to impress our new boss or deliver an early result? While nagging these early and short-lived wins is important, we should never underestimate nor neglect the aspect of building the foundations of strong working relationships with our new colleagues.
Building good relationships at work generates a higher level of innovation and creativity as well as the ability to focus on opportunities rather than expanding energy trying to overcome issues related to poor work relationships. Good work relationships promote a high level of cooperation and increase the likelihood of others agreeing on changes you want to implement or proposals you are trying to pitch.
How to avoid burning bridges
When working in a corporate environment, encountering conflicts is inevitable and natural. At times, these conflicts may, unfortunately, damage relationships with our colleagues, which are difficult to repair. Based on my experience, here are 3 ways you may avoid burning bridges with your colleagues:
- Avoid allowing debates to turn into personal attacks
It is important to understand our boundaries on a working level and on a personal level. At times, we may get carried away by our determination to drive changes in the way we foresee, which may contradict those of our colleagues. Our colleagues may initiate objections to our views, and we may feel targeted and turn defensive. There is nothing to be ashamed of this feeling because it only goes to show how much effort we have put into our work which we strongly believe in.
When such objections are brought up, and debates occur, we must consciously remind ourselves to stay objective and focus on the topic of discussion. Never allow our emotions to sway our sense of rationality, and turn what was intended to be a constructive debate into an arena for personal attacks. Personal attacks cause us to deviate from our objectives, hinder work progression, and destroy mutual respect.
- Actively consider others’ views
While we often wish to avoid rejections and disapprovals for our work, learning to receive feedback from others with an open mind may spark innovative improvements to our initial ideas and allow others to develop an impression of us as thoughtful, considerate, and humble teammates.
Instead of blatantly dismissing objections, we may try to practice sparing a moment to understand where others are coming from, acknowledge positive areas of their ideas, and try to integrate aspects of their opinions into the current idea to build on it.
Such practices will allow our colleagues to realize how receptive we are to their ideas, and allow them to feel valued for their work. This may eventually create a culture of embracing and respecting safe working environments, where every worker feels comfortable putting their contributions on the table and initiating constructive discussions in the interest of innovation and progress.
- Be sincere and consistent
Wearing a few masks at the office, and treating every colleague discriminately creates distrust and hinders you from earning the respect you desire from your colleagues. When others around you start to observe the differences in your mannerism and treatment towards different workers at the office (which you can expect so), they are likely to deem you as a ‘fake’ person who is insincere, going around adopting multiple personalities to manipulate the hearts of your superiors to get what you desire. This may create a sense of skepticism towards your working intentions by your colleagues, and generate disgust and disapproval.
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Darryl was born and raised in Singapore, the Little Red Dot situated at the heart of Asia. Growing up, he realised his interest in research, consumer psychology and entrepreneurship, which have motivated him to participate in multiple national-level entrepreneurial projects for which he clinched recognisable accolades. As a young and aspiring business consultant, he is now interning at a local business development and marketing consultancy firm to nurture his passion, and pursue his mission of helping businesses while contributing towards positive social changes. Through his knowledge and experience, he hopes to create more appealing articles that can impact businesses.