Being a Great Coworker

Our lives are built on relationships. Relationships with partners, family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. We spend more time with coworkers than anyone else. The average full-time employee will work about it 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year which adds up to over 2000 hours. Having a harmonious workplace makes going to work enjoyable. There is a lot that we can learn from one another. We should always strive to be our best selves, understanding other people’s strengths and weaknesses will help you be a better coworker.

  1. Express appreciation and gratitude.

Whether you are a manager or a peer, everyone wants to feel appreciated and it is everyone’s job regardless of your position to give credit where credit is due. Remember it is the little things that often mean the most. Have you ever had that day wherein your perception nothing has gone right, and then a coworker sincerely compliments you? How did it make you feel? I am sure that it brightened your day, put a smile on your face. We are in this together, no business was built alone, no community is based on one person.

In the book “How to Win in a winner-Take-All-World” Neil Irwin said that when staff treats each other and customers with respect and empathy, it made everyone better at their jobs and created a more meaningful experience for customers. Everyone has something positive to contribute. Life’s struggles and challenges can be lighter when we support one another and express sincere gratitude.

  1. Respond to emails/calls promptly.

Everyone has a job to do and you do not want to be the person who bottlenecks a project by not keeping the line of communication open and moving efficiently and effectively. Missing deadlines and delaying projects can cost the company a loss in revenue and reflects poorly on a person. Do not misunderstand this, too often we can get overwhelmed and distracted by answering emails as they come in all day long. I find it works best for me to spend the first hour of my day on email. Then after that when emails come in I can glance at the subject and determine if I can leave for the following morning or if it needs my immediate attention. One of the things we are all balancing is how to be efficient and productive in our jobs. There are times to be the most productive means to put some of the emails and voicemail return calls on hold for a short time.

  1. Steer clear of gossip.

Gossip is a bad habit to get involved with. Remain ethical at all times and steer clear of gossip. Do not fall victim to talking poorly about coworkers behind their backs. Office gossip is bad for company morale and culture.

  1. Be humble

Recognize your limitations and shortcomings. This becomes a win-win when you are working on projects together. Each person within the organization has unique talents and skills, we can all learn from each other. I had an employee who would sit in team meetings taking credit for every success, this set an uncomfortable tone for the entire team. Their behavior devalued every other person in the room. Contrast that behavior to the leader who humbly refuses to take credit, instead they commend the hard work and efforts of the entire team.

  1. Be Considerate of others.

Successful teams are those teams where they look out for each other. Meaning that we need to be aware of each other and our surroundings. Do you keep your area clean and tidy? Do you clean up after yourself and help with the mundane tasks? I have been to many offices where too many people feel that keeping the break room clean is someone else’s job. They see certain housekeeping tasks as beneath them. I can’t begin to share the number of offices where people drink coffee, dirty coffee mugs but never start a new pot of coffee or wash their cup let alone anyone else’s. I also worked with people who would order take out and eat at their desks and then continually complain of the smell from the trash. As coworkers we need to be aware of surroundings, be courteous of others. Noise level, either from talking too loudly, having your music too loud or even having headphones on where you can’t hear anyone can also be problematic.  When co-workers are mindful of others and everyone goes the extra mile towards each other the office culture is one in which people want to come to work.

  1. Reach out to others

It is sad how in today’s society with technology many people find it a struggle to be the first to initiate contact and reach out to others. People usually find it much easier to send a quick email or text message or better yet just wait for someone else to say hello first. When there is a new team member reach out a hand of fellowship. Some people are natural extroverts and they find it easy to talk to everyone, then there are the introverts who struggle. If your working on a project together this goes the same, don’t always wait for another team member to ask you where you’re at with your piece of the project. Be open with communication, offer assistance to others and let them know when you are falling behind.

  1. Be respectful of people’s time

We all feel the time crunch, we need to remember to be respectful of other people’s time. When we ask them if they have a few minutes, keep it short, concise and to the point. Nothing is more frustrating than when a few minutes turns into 30 minutes or longer. I had a team member once who was very disrespectful of other people’s time. This team member would often ask to have weekly scheduled meetings postponed for them because they were unprepared and during meetings, after the group moved on to another issue, they would want to circle back. Instead of contributing to the discussion when that particular issue was on the table, they would want to bring up it again later. This kind of behavior sends the wrong message and causes disharmony in the workplace. Do not have meetings just to meet, if there is nothing new to discuss consider other options, email or cancel the meeting altogether. Team members will appreciate the thoughtfulness of freeing up their calendars.

  1. Lend a helping hand

When you see someone has fallen behind on a project or has been out sick, jump in and assist them. Irwin goes on to explain in the book “How to win in a winner-take-all- world” that if you’re a manger the pathway to success is to seek ways to elevate the capabilities of your staff…and if you’re an employee to seek ways to become a more valuable contributor (pp 142). The old saying is still true today, many hands make light work

Good colleagues are those that know that WE is more powerful than ME.

Cheryl Viola, Executive Director