Building A Culture of Relationships That Persist

Relationships — how deep they go?

Not so long ago, a friend of mine was getting married and I had the honor to be her man of honor. She is actually a colleague of mine (and a former teammate). I’ve known her for more than seven years — we go running together, we visit each other, we go on trips together, and we helped each other withstand some serious life crises. I absolutely didn’t take it for granted but I wasn't exactly surprised when she asked me to be her honor attendant.

How often do people ask their co-workers for such personal favors?

How often people truly open up to their colleagues?

I’m all the more curious because many people I meet are reluctant to involve in any deeper camaraderie at work. At best, they go grab a beer with their peers but sometimes, not even that. And I don’t think it’s because they don’t like beer.

Relationships that last

Let stick with the wedding theme for a bit. This past summer, I spent three wedding-y weekends in a row with my colleagues. Besides the mentioned wedding, I organized a bachelorette party and participated in another stag party. (Which would do for another article but unfortunately, I can’t share any details as I’m bound to secrecy. 😇)

How to recognize great relationships?

People spending their own resources, including the most precious one — time, indicate that they genuinely care about each other (not only about getting the work done).

It seems to me that the quality of relationships in a company is directly proportional to the time people spend together outside of work.

Try asking yourself the following questions:

  • Do people in your team care about the wellbeing of each other?
  • Do they go out after the working hours?
  • Do they form communities around shared values?
  • Do they mingle with their former colleagues?

Why do I care about relationships?

Relationships are an inherent part of everything we do and everything we say. By communicating, we are building relationships. Even if we don’t immediately realize it, we maintain relationships with many people — our doctors, car mechanics, or postmen.

Relationships are communicating vessels

I know people (and I bet you do too) who believe it’s possible to keep personal life apart from work life.

ME = How I treat people at work + How I treat people at a party + How I treat people at <…>

Building a culture of healthy relationships

What I learned is that unlike the company strategy, culture is not something that can be easily pushed top-down. It can be promoted, advocated, encouraged but can hardly be pushed.

  • When I prepared the first team breakfast it kicked off a snowball effect of exchanging food-related courtesies which continues to this day.
  • If our CEO hasn’t been attending Trees for Bugs for 10 years we wouldn’t have planted more than 3k trees so far. In fact, the initiative would be long dead before we planted the first few hundreds.
  • If our offices weren’t dog-friendly, I doubt that one of our employees would now run her own animal shelter and that other employees would support her initiative and involve in various other charities.
This is me. I found this two years old photo just recently and thought it fits here quite nicely :)

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