Find Your People. Establish Meaningful Connections at Work.

October 5, 2021

Work is a collaborative effort so find your work buddies. Peer relationships create the ideal context for developing great collaboration skills.

For many, the workplace is filled with stress and anxiety. If this is what you are experiencing, it may be time to act before you burn out completely. Establishing meaningful connections with your coworkers can help improve your work life. It's just too easy these days to feel like an outsider and isolated at work.

Remember your first days at college? Not the unbridled freedom part. The lonely part. Will I make friends? Which group do I feel comfortable in? What if I hate my roommate? The early worries eventually got sorted out. You found your friends, and many are still with you after all these years.

Work is much the same. You land in this new organization, and it feels very lonely despite being surrounded by tons of people. Who can you trust? Whose work do you admire? Who gets you?

It took me a couple years, but I found several colleagues who make a huge difference in my daily work experience. They are not my clones, but we exist in the same galaxy. They are in different departments, but we see the connections. They offer tough love, but we always support each other. They are my happy place.

It takes time to develop trust

Here's what I learned (the hard way) about finding “my people”. First, I kissed a bunch of frogs before I found the right people. Some folks wooed me for not-so-noble reasons. Political posturing, undermining efforts, using me. Others I pursued just turned out to be bad fits. Second, even when there is an initial connection it still takes time to develop deep trust. Take Rene, for example. They are my Micah whisperer. When we met, I thought, “I want to be Rene when I grow up. They are amazing!” The first time Rene offered up some tough love I was stunned. It was a challenging discussion, but I felt their genuine support for my success. I could hear how invested they were in me. That’s a real relationship. But it took time and getting to know each other to arrive at that deeper place. Third, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of having trusted colleagues to turn to. As sounding boards, as role models, as comic relief, as collaborators. It’s the difference between going through the motions and being fully present. It makes work something to look forward to.

Don’t you think it’s odd that we hardly ever talk about the importance of establishing meaningful relationships at work?

Don’t you think it’s odd that we hardly ever talk about the importance of establishing meaningful relationships at work? But we should. Otherwise, work feels lonely and competitive. Everyone needs a work posse. But it feels like even saying the word “relationship” is so outside the acceptable organizational business lexicon. Every interaction is about outcomes, numbers, projects. Very few are in people language: connection, collaboration, respect.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to feel like the kid sitting alone in the lunchroom. I want to be over there with the cool kids.

What is the value of finding your people?

The ability to collaborate with others is one of the most important skills in today’s workplace, and it has never been more critical than now. Peer relationships are essential for collaborative work environments because they create an ideal context for developing great collaboration skills. Mutual support, willingness to offer and accept feedback, safety to challenge each other's ideas, and joy of working together are fundamental elements that allow people at all levels, from managers on up, to be successful collaborators. We would love to hear from you on how your work friends make your experience better or if they've helped improve any of these collaborative skills mentioned above.

Contact Us if you would like some help with this.