It’s important to strengthen your social skills and build relationships when it comes to your clients. But there’s another set of people who may need more attention than they’re getting — your coworkers.
Your coworkers are the people outside of your family that you interact with every day at the office, online, or over the phone, who help your business run smoothly. Whether you’re working for an agency or you have employees working for you, it’s important to bridge the gap and find common ground with the people you see and work with every day. Having a good relationship with your coworkers can make or break the experience at your job.
Having a good relationship with your coworkers can make or break the experience at your job.
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There’s No ‘I’ in Team
Now, you probably won’t end up being best friends with everyone. Still, treating everyone with the same respect and kindness goes a long way. Holding an upstanding reputation of being approachable and friendly can help you navigate professional relationships.
Sometimes, working with a team can be amazing — being with a group of great minds, bouncing ideas around, tasks getting done at rapid speed. But it doesn’t always feel like that. Sometimes, it feels like a group class project and no one but you did the homework. Not everyone loved group projects in school, but they do help prepare us for working with a team of people later in our careers. It’s rare to have a job that keeps you in complete solitude, and insurance agent is not one of those jobs.
Below are our tips and practices for effectively working with a team. If you’re not a manager, you might not have the authority to plan big team events or make changes; but, it’s likely that management will be open and excited for new team building ventures. And of course, you always have control of what you say and how you act.
Practices to Strengthen Professional Relationships in the Workplace
1. Create Opportunities for Connection
Be proactive about meetings and making connections. Hold regular meetings, whether that’s in person or virtually. Even if there’s not a lot on the business agenda, holding a meeting for everyone to socialize and catch up is important for team growth.
You can start of end the meeting with a question for everyone to answer, like “What is your favorite food?” or “What is a TV show you’re currently watching?” This simple practice allows a group people to find small ways to relate to each other. It helps humanize each other, especially when you find out your coworker likes to binge the same Netflix series as you.
You can also plan activities during lunch or outside the workplace. Maybe you choose to have lunch with a different coworker every week to get to know everyone more, organize a lunch for everyone on the team, or go to a happy hour or trivia night after work. When you intentionally plan or go to events like this, you find out that your coworkers are dimensional human beings. They like hiking and have 10 cats. You never know.
2. Reestablish Responsibilities
Facilitating a refresher on everyone’s roles can keep the workflow moving smoothly. It’s sometimes good to re-explain how the work is divided among the team and to see if any of the tasks need to be reassessed. This may be especially helpful if you have a lot of new employees mixed in with seasoned ones.
If you’re not in charge, reestablishing responsibilities may be one of those ideas you pass along to your upline.
3. Share Goals
If you’re on the same team, you probably have the same, if not similar goals. Share yours with others and find out what theirs are. You all might be able to give advice or help each other achieve or exceed them if you know what they are. It’s a great way to build comradery!
4. Be Mindful
Lift up or highlight your coworkers and/or employees. It’s easy to get caught up in pointing out and fixing mistakes. We’re all humans in a fast, evolving world — mistakes will be made. Try not to make a big deal about little mistakes. Yes, they can add up and if it’s a pattern, it definitely should be addressed in a direct way. However, looking at a large, well-crafted, well-researched report by your teammate and only pointing out all their small errors can be a huge blow to self-confidence and create cracks in your relationship with them.
Lift up or highlight your coworkers and or employees.
With small or common mistakes, try this special rule: For every two critiques you have, also present at least one positive thing. This helps balance out your feedback, so you have a good set of what they did well, and what they need to work on.
Remember to Set Boundaries
When working with a team, being open and willing to help will go a long way, but remember, you don’t need to cross your personal boundaries for the sake of your job. Your teammates might ask for help with duties that are outside of your job role. It’s important not to sacrifice your own quality of work for the sake of helping others; however, being open to give advice, tips, and help where it’s appropriate can get you in good favor with the people you work with.
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Making strong, lasting connections with coworkers builds morale, trust, and creates an open and inviting work environment. If you aren’t sure where to begin, start with a warm smile and “hello” and utilize these strategies!