Management & Leadership

How to be a Better Colleague

Sep 29, 2021 | By Saranne Durham
How to be a Better Colleague
Mobile Curve
Mobile Curve

If you work, then you have colleagues. With an increasing number of people doing remote work, for many, the conventional colleague relationship has been changed. However, whether it’s in an office or online the question of can we be a better colleague remains. After all, working within a collegial environment, where it’s easy to collaborate with others makes for a much happier working day.

Do I need to be friends with the people I work with?

There’s a difference between being a good colleague and being a friend. If you choose to and are able to have friends at work, that’s great. But being a good colleague doesn’t mean you need to be buddies. In fact, maintaining personal boundaries is something that needs to happen even when you work with friends.

What kind of Colleague do you want to be?

When it comes to working relationships, it is necessary to give things a think. Some offices exude professionalism. With a rigid hierarchical structure and hushed voice environment there seems to be defined working relationship expectations. Other office environments are chattier and lend to water cooler time, shared lunches or after work plans. Navigating both can be challenging for different reasons. Although there are some basics which are the same when it comes to striving to be a better colleague.

What makes a Good Colleague?

It doesn’t matter if they are your manager or if they’re a fellow worker-bee team member. They’re pleasant and someone you enjoy working with. Generally, they also help to foster a sense of camaraderie within a workspace. There are common traits and things that we each do, which make us more or less pleasant to work with.

5 Advantages of being a Good Colleague

From an individual perspective, is it worth the effort? Isn’t work about putting our heads down and being as efficient as possible? As one climbs the career ladder things get more pressured, not less. Surely a good measurement of career success is not how pleasant you are? But rather how efficient and reliable you are, how much you earn or if you take the lead in projects? However, the reality is that these things are actually intertwined. In fact, an increasing number of companies actively look for people to promote who have a well-developed emotional intelligence (EQ).

When you’re pleasant to be around, you’re more likely to be:

  1. Considered for career opportunities, like promotions.
  2. Able to be more productive.
  3. Enjoy your own work more.
  4. Less stressed and generally a happier person.
  5. Have people help you when you need it.

“Striving to be a better colleague can lead to creating advantages for ones self.”

What should I do to be a Better Colleague?

While there are lists of attributes that you can work on, there are some basic ways of interacting with others which will assist you to be more pleasant to work with.

1. Be an Active Listener.

Pay attention when someone else is talking. Nod and maintain eye contact while they finish all of what they want to share. Recap the conversation, so that you can check you’ve understood correctly. After which you can then weigh in with an opinion or advice if appropriate.

2. Focus on Positive Conversation.

When conversations aren’t work focused, side-step gossiping. Rather try to keep things light and fun. When it’s a work focused conversation avoid highlighting the negatives. Instead, focus on facts and looking for a solution. A great way to be positive within a work environment is to be on the lookout for someone else’s strengths. A genuine compliment can make someone’s day. It costs you nothing to say to someone that you are impressed with their communication skills or the solutions they proposed.

3. Actively be part of the Team.

While you want to get your work done timeously, it’s important to collaborate and not exclude yourself from your team. This may mean pausing to bounce ideas around with someone who is battling with their own tasks.  Exercise kindness and be empathetic. While putting yourself in someone else’s shoes may result in you helping them with their workload, it may be necessary. As long as it doesn’t become a habit, it’s good to remember that everyone has bad days. Next time it could be you who is overwhelmed and needing someone’s help to finish in time for a deadline.

4. Be a Dependable Self-starter.

Don’t wait to start something if you know what you need to do. Even in those situations where no one would notice you slacking off a little. Rather develop ways to keep yourself on track and prioritise things. This better prevents people from needing to ask you twice for something or having to check-up on you. Instead, over time, you will gain a reputation as someone who is organised, dependable, dedicated and trustworthy.

5. Respect Time.

This can be done by being on time for work and punctual for meetings. It is also achieved when you are well prepared for meetings and share feedback or your ideas in a focused manner. Thus, people knowing you are an asset in a meeting rather than a time waster. Which is more likely to result in you being considered for new projects, opportunities and even managerial roles.

“Increasingly companies are seeking individuals who perform well and have well developed EQs.”

Get Some Insight

It’s not easy to see your own blind spots. Nor the actual or potential impact the way you communicate or do things affects others. Being able to sit down with a coach is a helpful way of pinpointing where you need to adjust your approach. Additionally, they can practically help you find ways to change where need be. Thus, coaches are excellent at helping you to achieve short term goals, which pay off career-wise in the long run. Business coaches, in particular, provide ideal assistance to tackle things within a workplace setting. Their insight can help you navigate how best to advance your career while enjoying your job more.

Become a Business Coach

Coaching provides many opportunities to work with people and assist them to excel in their personal and career paths. A business coach plays many roles within a corporate environment. Their day varies and the challenges they help people conquer grows them too. Are you interested in working within the corporate world, having a diverse day or perhaps working for yourself? Then consider becoming a business coach. SACAP offers internationally recognised courses. These are aligned with the International Coaching Federation (ICF), and Coaches and Mentors of South Africa (COMENSA). To find out more about a career that involves helping others maximise their potential, contact us directly.

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