When it comes to building a strong working relationship with co-workers, I’ve developed a unique perspective. For 20-plus years I’ve worked retail, corporate and government jobs. In that time, I’ve had hundreds of co-workers, worked in big and small teams and have had multiple layers of bosses, managers, and supervisors.
However, for the last two years, I’ve been self-employed and working from home. That means my only co-workers these days are my cat and dog.
Kidding aside, I do still have co-workers, especially when it comes to the events that I work. As a special events DJ, I’m on teams of other wedding vendors, corporate event producers and just about any occasion that has groups of professionals brought together to execute first rate events.
The difference between co-workers at events vs. the ones I had when working traditional office jobs, is there is a very limited time to build trust and connection with event vendors. At an office job, you work with the same people every day; sometimes for a decade or more. When I show up to a wedding, there’s often a good chance I’m working with the entire team (catering manager, coordinator, photographer, videographer, etc.) for the first time.
Making Work Relationships Work No Matter Where You Work
The principles of building a strong rapport among these co-workers are the same as doing so among those you may have a long work history with. Regardless of where you work, in an office cubicle among several hundred other people, or a hotel ballroom with an event team of a few others, the work relationships you build among peers will directly affect the output of the work you do. The stronger the bond, the more cooperative everyone becomes and the results will be the best work possible.
These are my three tips on building strong work relationships that are applicable wherever you work.
You are part of a team for a reason, and it is likely the reason you were hired. That reason may be the thing your co-works commonly ask you when they are seeking an “expert opinion.” Your credibility and how you present it should be ever present in your interactions with co-workers. But keep in mind, there is a fine line to walk between being credible and being braggadocious. Be sure to find that balance.
My credibility as a DJ means my areas of expertise often affect how well others can do their job. This includes managing the flow of an event, keeping guests informed of details and of course making sure guests are having a good time. Inserting my recommendations for when certain items should happen during an event and keeping other vendors informed of changes all contribute to a good working relationship the rest of the event and, should our paths cross again, future events.
Sitting back and not speaking up for what you bring to the table only leads to your own frustrations, which eventually leads to bad working relationships.
This is probably a rule for all of life, not just work. No one is going to do things the way you do them all of the time. You’ve got to make concessions and compromise. If you don’t, you only alienate yourself from the rest of the team.
During the cocktail hour at a wedding, the wedding party, as well as immediate family of the couple use this time to take photos with their hired photographer. This involves several people and who knows how many combinations of photos. How this gets done in one hour is beyond my knowledge. I imagine herding and directing cats is easier.
There are times when it’s not all complete in one hour. And those are the times I need to be accommodating. While it can be frustrating that I need to adjust my schedule, I have to understand that usually, the photographer is doing the best he can and as quickly as he can do it. I accommodate by making the necessary adjustments and not be frustrated with something beyond my control.
Offer Assistance When Possible
You know that part in the airline safety briefing prior to take off that says to put on your oxygen mask before assisting others? It makes sense when working on a project. Being a co-worker that offers help to others is never a bad thing. But be mindful of getting your own work done first.
Imagine if you were constantly stopping what you were doing to help someone else. Not only does this mean your work does not get done, but the other person may be delayed as both of you troubleshoot and complete the task.
Recently I was at an event where the venue only gave the vendors one hour to set-up. While my set-up time usually takes about 45 minutes, I always give myself at least 90 minutes.
Thankfully, I was set-up in time. However, the coordinator was still struggling to get everything done. I offered my help, and it wasn’t necessarily as her set-up assistant. But helping her open a box that was giving her difficulty, loaning her my cart so she could move all eight boxes of stuff at once instead of walking them one-by one and just checking on other details I could find out on my own rather than bother her with things that at the time were not important.
If you can be known as the person that gets their stuff done and then helps others with theirs, you are going to build a strong working relationship with others.
Those are my tips, pretty simple right? Establish your expertise among others without growing an ego, accommodate others, be helpful, be kind.
Not just good work advice, but good life advice too.