Steps to Management Success – Step 77: Your Coworkers Are More Than Just Names

Written By Rick Frishman Published April 2nd, 2010


Your Coworkers Are More Than Just Names

Your coworkers have lives outside the office. Without being a busybody, it’s good to show an interest in them as people. Appreciating the fact that people are more than their jobs and responding accordingly is an intangible but genuine “environmental upgrade” that doesn’t cost a penny and can help build more cohesive work teams.

WHAT IT MEANS: Although you want to be serious and businesslike, all work and no small talk makes Jack or Jane incredibly tedious to work with. The human element is often neglected in the workplace—and certainly the focus should be on the work, but not exclusively. Office-cooler chitchat has its role in forging smoother working relationships and simply adding a more human (and humane) element to office life. As a boss or supervisor, you don’t want to get too buddy-buddy, but you don’t want to come across as a cold automaton either.

ACTION PLAN: Show some interest in your coworkers. How’s their family? What did they do over the weekend? What interests and activities do they pursue after hours? If you’re genuinely interested, people will usually respond positively (of course, if it’s not your m.o., they may be understandably suspicious or startled at first). A little bit of small talk is good grease for the wheels of commerce. Make sure to avoid such potentially divisive topics as politics or religion or offensive jokes. Also, don’t forget to celebrate birthdays and special personal occasions. You don’t have to plan the details of these office events, but make sure to authorize and participate in them.

EVEN BETTER: Getting a little more personal is a two-way street—so make sure that your coworkers get to know a little more about you. One good way to do this: have lunch with coworkers from time to time and make sure that the topics of conversation are not all business.

(Excerpted from: 10 Clowns Don’t Make a Circus. . . and 249 Other Critical Management Success Strategies by Steven Schragis and Rick Frishman)

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