When thinking about friends at work, it’s not as simple as whether you like someone or not. Work relationships are more complex. And here’s why.
First, there’s the personal relationship with a colleague (aka frolleague) and how close you feel. There’s a range that goes something like this:
- Friendly (eg. acquaintance).
- Close friend.
- Best friend.
- Intimate (eg. life partner).
You might ask yourself if that degree of closeness is too much, too little or just right for you. And if it’s not just right, what do you plan to do about that? Not so easy. (I was interviewed about frolleagues at work recently here.)
Second, there’s the role-relatedness. This is where work friendships differ. There’s both a personal relationship and a work-role relatedness. That is, where you have a relationship by virtue of the roles you both occupy. You have to interact to get the work done.
This gets even trickier because there are a few things to think about that aren’t so easy to think about. Maybe this is why it doesn’t get talked about nearly as much, and why ‘training’ doesn’t stick. It’s not just about whether you do a good job and co-operate.
So, here are some key things to consider:
- Structure – the way workflows and roles are designed (regardless of role holders).
- Systems – the processes and systems that are in place that can make the work easier or more difficult to get done.
- You – how you understand and occupy your role. Is the understanding shared? Are you stepping up fully into your role? Are you sure? I’ve noticed many shy away from going all the way, even when they don’t intend to.
If the role-relatedness isn’t ‘appropriate’ for what the organisation is trying to achieve, you’ll find the familiar problems like:
- The workaround.
- Interpersonal conflict… the list goes on.
And then we all know that the quality of the personal relationship impacts the work relationship and vice versa.
This is why leadership is hard. It’s complex. The good news is that you can get so much better at it. And that’s what makes it so rewarding.
What do you think? Scroll down to leave your comment.
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash.