Friends at work. Is that a good idea? What about as a leader? In working with groups of leaders for thirty years, I know this question will always create a variety of opinions, some pretty strongly held on both sides of the fence. Let’s unpack the question and give you some clearer direction. But first we must define what “friend” means.
One of the problems with the “friends at work” question is that different people view the term friend differently. Some see friend as equivalent to acquaintance, and others see it closer to confidant. If you view “friend” more broadly you like have no issues with saying you have friends at work. But some people who see the need for a line between work and personal matters sometimes are more cautious about saying they have friends at work.
Given those different perspectives, let’s replace the word friend with strong working relationships. Is it wise to have strong working relationships? Now the question is simpler, even when you consider the potentially more complicated relationship between leaders and team members. It is not only wise to have strong working relationships, but imperative for both the individual and the organization. Here are some reasons why.
Let’s make it simple. Think about the job you liked most and were most successful at. Did you enjoy the people you worked with? Would you even say you had friends at work then? Odds are, based on the research, that your answer is a solid yes.
Since over 60% of out social interaction takes place at work, when some of it is pleasant, it helps us be happier, less stressed, and more likely to want to remain in that working situation. In short you will be happier, healthier, and likely far more successful in your work when you have great working relationships.
Having healthier and happier employees should be reason enough for organizations to want strong working relationships. After all, when people feel better about their work, they are more likely to stay. In other words, stay working relationships will support retention. But there are many other reasons why organizations benefit when people feel that have friends at work. Here are four big reasons:
- Better communication. Every organization strives for greater communication. When relationships are stronger, communication is better.
- Less conflict. When humans are involved conflicts will arise. But when people have strong working relationships, they are far more likely to resolve that conflict sooner, with less drag on organizational results.
- More trust. Trust grows in large part in connection with the strength of relationships. And trust makes work easier and faster.
- Higher productivity. Add the mental health aspects of relationships with the other items on this list and you get greater individual and collective productivity – one of the most important measures of organizational health and success.
Having friends at work can be complicated, but the resounding answer to the wisdom of having friends at work is that is wise to get to know, and care about those you work with. Doing so will pay dividends far beyond any complications it might occasionally cause.
Sorting out your feelings about and success in building working relationships is a key to your success. Would you like a comprehensive set of tools and strategies to help you get better at building your working relationships, so you have less stress, more satisfaction, and have greater success? If so, you can get immediate, lifetime access to the Nurturing Working Relationships Master Class. This solution will help you sort out friendships, relationships, and help you build them effectively with your team and others in the workplace. As a wonderful bonus, many of the strategies will help in every other area of your life as well. You will repay your small investment in this Master Class within weeks – if not the first day!