I grew up when the work ethic was so strong that talking to others and enjoying yourself at work meant you were wasting time.
Friendships in the workplace were seen as distractions.
But recent Gallup data indicates that having a best friend at work actually improves employee performance and motivation and is strongly linked to business outcomes, including profitability, safety, inventory control and retention. Employees who have a best friend at work are significantly more likely to engage customers and internal partners and get more done in less time.
Good leaders not only encourage friendships among employees, but also help facilitate them.
Here are three ways leaders can foster friendships in their organization – i.e. build friendful cultures.
- Make friendship a company value. Make friendships at work a priority. Be explicit. Be intentional. Talk about what it’s important and what it means to you. Ask what it means to others and respect each others’ expectations and degree of openess. For some, being “friendly” with each other will be enough. Emphasize that friendships have to happen “organically.” They can’t be forced.
- Establish rituals. Create regular team learning and team building events – experiences that foster collaboration and friendships. Our team went fly fishing on the Bow River last fall – an amazing experience. A client has a bucket list bulletin board in their coffee room. Everyone in the company is encouraged to have a bucket list, and every time they accomplish something on their list, they post a picture of it on the board and tell the story at the next team meeting.
- Practice Heartfulness. Heartfulness means knowing what you love and being supported and encouraged to go for it. Schedule a regular time to share each other’s stories. Heartfulness means ensuring that everyone knows that they belong. Make time to ask: What do you love? What do you care about? How does your work here help you take care of what you care about? How can we support you to do that better? What is your WHY and how can we support you to realize it? I’m at my best when…
In the past we would just tell people to do their job and expect that it got done. Those days are gone, thankfully.
People expect much more from their leaders today and that is a good thing.
Just as we need to expect more from ourselves in what we bring to the cultures we work in.
Tending a friendful culture isn’t just good for people and for relationships. It’s good for business.