The Enthusiastic Workplace, Part IV: Camaraderie

The opening article of this four-part series set the stage for what it is that workers need from their employers to feel enthusiastic about their jobs. The second article explored details of equity and fair treatment while the third article drilled down into six aspects of achievement. In this fourth and final installment of the series, I look at camaraderie, which is defined by the authors of The Enthusiastic Employee as follows: “To have warm, interesting, and cooperative relations with others in the workplace.” Seems simple enough, right? But there’s a lot that goes into achieving a high level of camaraderie in the workplace.

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It begins with recognizing the basic fact that as human beings, we are highly social creatures. It’s all too easy to lose sight of the idea that a workplace is a community of people, which may be viewed as a family or neighborhood. But this relatively simple and straightforward idea gets a bit more complication within an organization. For the most part, people are largely satisfied with relations between their immediate colleagues, such as within their specific business unit or team. Where things tend to break down more frequently is between units, departments, and so on.

Some classic ways cases where this type of breakdown manifests are between nurses and physicians in hospitals and clinics, between IT and other departments. The data on this are interesting. Fully 83% of employees on average view their relationships with co-workers favorably. But when asked specifically about teamwork across departments, that figure drops down to 51%. This can be taken as a clear indication that many organizations have more work to do in terms of cross-functional integration. When departments function as rigidly defined “silos,” there is ample opportunity for conflict to emerge between departments or between classes of employees with substantial differences in qualifications and duties.

Socializing Among Workers

This gets difficult the more you think about it. As social creatures, we need to be social with our fellow employees. The problem comes in when managers and leaders see that socializing aspect as time wasted on non-business related activities. In the digital age, it’s even more complex given the ubiquitous nature of social media networking. The response from companies at first was often extreme, disallowing access to any social media sites like Facebook and others. Many companies have since started backing off those rigid policies, especially as they become increasingly aware of how valuable social media can be to their business. But in a big-picture sense, there’s still a wariness about the socializing aspect between co-workers.

Collaboration and Teamwork

In terms of productivity, the teamwork approach has been shown to be highly effective over the past several decades. Most companies now realize that cooperation and collaboration between workers on teams is the key, and as a result much has been learned about how to create and maintain high-performing teams. Once again it’s not rocket science, but it does take a conscious, concerted effort to make it happen.

Conflict Management

Conflicts do inevitably still arise, and how a company handles conflict can play a key role in workers’ overall outlook about their jobs. Whether it’s personal conflict between employees, contentious relations between labor and management, conflict between departments, or significant differences of opinion between senior leaders, having policies, processes, and practices in place to resolve conflicts are essential.

This four-part series has been based largely on the book, The Enthusiastic Employee, by David Sirota, Louis Mischkind, and Michael Irwin Meltzer. Everyone wants to be a part of an enthusiastic workplace, but how do you make that happen? In short, you give workers what they want. Why? Because as it turns out, what people want out of employment is very sensible. They don’t want the sun, moon, and stars, they simply want equity, achievement, and camaraderie. When organizations put the time and effort in to providing those basic needs to employees, the inevitable result is enthusiasm. Go and do likewise!

July 9, 2015   Updated :July 6, 2015   camaraderie, enthusiasm, talent management   

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