What does “Parks and Recreation,” “Mad Men,” “The Mindy Project” and “The Office” have in common? They are TV shows that revolve around the workplace. Judging from the popularity of these shows, people love watching office dynamics...so long as they are about other people.
On August of last year, Paychex surveyed 2000 people on employee retention. Thirty-two percent said they have left or would leave a job if they did not get along with their co-workers. For comparison purposes, lack of intellectual challenge falls short with 29 percent, unavailable 401(k) with 21 percent and sensed imminent layoffs with 19 percent. This means more people prefer to work routine and unsecured jobs than being in a place where they do not mesh well with their co-workers.
If you have ever thought of quitting your job because of your colleagues, take a moment analyze your work habits and the environment. More often than not, you will conclude that better communications make stronger relationships.
Read through this guide to learn how to improve your office communication.
1. Two-Way Street
Communication is the give and takes of information. If you do not verbalize your thoughts, how do you expect your co-workers know them? In case you have not noticed, no one—at least in real life— is a mind reader. Open up conversation lines with the people you work with. Listen. Talk. Share materials and opinions.
2. Something’s Gotta Give
It is easier said than done, but sometimes the best choice is just to let it go. If you are in your office/cubicle, stand up, stretch and take a couple of minutes to breathe in and out. Then move to the next task. If you are in the same room with the person you find trying, shut your mind off and go to your happy place for a moment. Just let them be. This might be the same advice you give your kids, but your workplace is not the place for high school-like drama to begin with.
3. Stand Up for Yourself
When the occasion calls for it, do stand up for yourself. This does not mean antagonize your associates; more often than not, this means holding on to your judgment call and proceeding on. This is especially important when issues like harassment or ethical actions are at stake. Talk to a manager or go straight to HR. Use the compliance hotline.
4. Email May or May Not Be the Key
Email is tricky. In a business setting, email is often the fastest and most convenient way to reach busy colleagues. However, it is not the best strategy if you want a shield against face-to-face confrontation. Do not use email as a medium for passive-aggressive memos. At most, use email for the same message twice. The first email should be the initial contact or instructions; the second email should be the reminder. If these two emails fail to generate a response back, walk over to your co-worker’s desk and talk to them. This is also a good time to remind you that people simply have different communication preferences. Feel free to ask your colleagues for the best way to reach them, and list it down.
5. Spend Time Together
Hang out with the people you work with before or after work. This a great strategy to see your co-workers in a different light—both literally and figuratively. This bonding time does not have to be costly. Some ideas include going to lunch together, inviting them over for barbecues or even walking into work together.
Carly Stec of HubSpot calculates that “[i]f you work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, that's over 2,000 hours a year spent with the same people -- give or take a vacation or two, of course….This makes building positive relationships with the people you work with a priority -- or in some cases, a means of survival.”
Give Q a call at 423-602-9645 if your business needs guidance on best practices for employee communications.
See also: 7 Ways to Eliminate Distractions at Work