Business Times p.B1
Saturday, February 07, 2009
LEARNING & INNOVATION
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Friendships are predictors of workplace outcomes
According to studies made by Tom Rath and his team of researchers at Gallup Polls, employees with best friends are seven times more likely to be engaged in their job. Close friendships are best predictors of attendance, retention, satisfaction and strength of belief in a higher power. These studies indicate that the evolution and growth of friendships is a critical part of a healthy workplace. In the best workgroups they surveyed, employers recognize that people want to forge quality friendships and that company loyalty is built from such friendships.
This is one of their interesting findings: Having friends at work might even form a type of emotional compensation for those who are lacking other incentives. Closer friendships at work can increase satisfaction with your company and can double the chances of having a favorable perception of your pay. People with at least three close friends at work are more likely to be extremely satisfied with their life. Don't get me wrong, having one best friend at work makes a world of difference. This is the first major step if you want a more enjoyable workplace and personal life. But don't stop when you have one great friend on the job. Based on the results of our latest research, you could see a dramatic difference if you build a few more friendships at work.
Do you realize that as a leader of business, sports teams, schools, faith-based groups and other organizations that you are also in the business of cultivating friendships, other than accomplishing your organization's vision and mission? Or as the leader of your family, your responsibility is not just to provide for the basic needs of your family members but more importantly, to cultivate friendships in your family?
Tom wrote that "you increase your employees' loyalty to your organization by fostering the kind of loyalty that is built between one employee and another. The friendlier they are to one another, the more loyal they become to your organization. The best managers in the world are not only experts in systems, processes and technical competencies" they are experts in their employees' life. And because of this, they increase the engagement and productivity of their employees at work. All employees deserve a manager whom they can truly call a friend, or at least a manager who cares about their general well-being. The bottom line is that employees spend roughly 50 percent more time with their customers, coworkers and bosses than they do with our friends, significant others, children and other relatives combined. If you want to be happier and more engaged at work, consider developing a few strong friendships at the office, maybe even one with your boss.
Management guru Peter Drucker said, "managers learn in business school that relationships are either up or down, but the most important relationships today are sideways. If there is one thing that most of the people in management have to learn, it is how to handle relationships where there is no authority and no orders."
As a leader, what can you do to foster a culture of fellowship and camaraderie in your organization? These are some suggestions:
• Engage your employees at a more emotional level. Talk to them about your own personal vision and vision, your fears, dreams, what makes you happy and sad, your family, your likes and dislikes, your favorites, your pet peeves, etc.
• Encourage them to share with you and each other the same information. Be mindful, though, that some people will not easily open up. This process takes time. You can't just tell them your life story in one seating and hope that they get to know you, understand you and accept you as a friend just like that. Get to know them at a level deep enough to understand them and accept their uniqueness. And very important, remember the information shared. Baka naman every time you meet them, you ask for the same personal information. Talk to them about how they should care for each other and develop friendships.
• Keep a constant flow of communication moving throughout your organization. People don't always hear what they want to, but they appreciate hearing something.
• Provide space in your work area where they could meet and have casual conversations for short times e.g., pantry, water dispenser area, employee lounge and others.
• Set aside a budget for employee get together such as outing, party, sports activities and birthday celebrations.
• Encourage them to go out together after work hours.
• Buy and read Vital Friends and use the ideas of Tom Rath.
Moje is a management consultant on organizational and personal learning. Read her blog at www.learningandinnovation.com and e-mail her at email@example.com.