The first few months in a new role is usually an important time in which there is a certain amount of pressure to prove your worth. This may take the form of impressing your new boss or delivering an early result. Apart from these early wins, it is crucial to build the foundations of a strong working relationship with your new colleagues whom you will be spending most of your time with and who may become your future references.
Building good working relationships is crucial to succeeding - it not only leads to better teamwork but will help you become happier, more engaged and more productive at work. In fact, a LinkedIn study revealed that 46% of professionals around the world believe that their friendships at work play an important role in their overall happiness.
Laying the foundations of new relationships may not be easy especially when you’re joining a team for the first time where relationships, norms and culture have been well-established. Remember that all relationships take time to develop and nurture, so focus on getting to know your colleagues and peers well and it’ll benefit you in the long run. Here are some ways you can approach this.
1. Take initiative and lend a helping hand
As the new person in the team, your colleagues will be keen to see what you can deliver both to wider team goals and to projects they are working on. Where possible, offer your knowledge and experience to group tasks and find a way to help on work your colleagues are undertaking. Ensure that you are not spreading yourself too thinly and never attempt to take on work which you are not comfortable tackling, but where there is opportunity to assist.
2. Make time for everybody, not just the senior stakeholders
There can be a tendency to focus all of your time and effort impressing more senior stakeholders, and a temptation to discount junior colleagues and tasks you deem to be of low importance. These things are important to someone, so don’t be dismissive. This can be hard in a new role where there is pressure to impress and make an impact but remember that a reputation is built across all levels, not just among your boss and the management team.
When you establish yourself as a reliable, helpful and respectful member of the team among your junior colleagues as well bosses and peers, you will go a long way to building long-lasting professional relationship.
3. Deliver on work and follow up with people
Nothing is worse than someone who fails to deliver on a promise or consistently misses deadlines. There is no quicker way to damage your reputation and potential working relationships than failing to follow through on work or not replying to emails and requests for information and help.
If you are over-stretched or bogged down by work, let your colleagues know, and ask for a deadline extension.
4. Speak up in meetings
Professional relationships are built on respect and there is no better way to earn the respect of your colleagues than by being an engaged member of the team. A good way to show that you’re invested in the team and task at hand is to actively participate in meetings. Show up prepared, give your opinion and contribute by sharing your ideas.
5. Be positive and avoid gossip
A key part of building healthy relationships is to retain a positive attitude towards your new colleagues. There is sure to be some level of office politics and gossip but it is important that you distance yourself from this activity.
The nuances of how a large team work together and relate are complicated and there is only damage to be done when you get too involved in gossip or politics. Don’t risk disparaging someone or poking fun at someone else only to tarnish your reputation.
Hard work, honesty and a positive professional demeanour are traits that will take you a long way in your career and also ones that will help you to make a positive impact in any new role. By respecting your colleagues and proving your value by offering your time, experience and expertise, you can quickly build meaningful professional relationships which will carry you throughout your time in the organisation.
Get more advice on navigating the tricky, but important, first 90 days in a new job, and tips on growing your career here.
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