How Loving the People You Work with Can Make You Better
Looking back at your career, have you ever loved a company that you worked for? You probably have. So have I. As designers, we're so fortunate to be alive in a time when if you're at least decent you can work pretty much wherever you want.
Many of us fall in love with the companies we work for. If the culture is great, we wake up in the morning and can't wait to finish downloading the results from yesterday's workshop or put the last Sketch touches on the app you're working on. And this is great. I think that going to work feeling excited and fulfilled is a real privilege nowadays. I also think that while it's fine to like the place you work, there's something else that makes more sense to me - and that is loving the people you work with.
The interpersonal relationships we create at work are, in my opinion, more important than the brand that pays you. Friends are the ones staying with us long-term. Falling in love with the company you work for, be it Google, Uber, or an unknown brand, is a bit of a weird idea for me. At the end of the day, aren't we all just resources? When we're not needed anymore, we're out. And as much as we don't like to accept it, there's always someone out there who is better than us at what we do. When we're out, it's just business.
Friendship, however, is as far from business as it gets. I believe that we should try to create good relationships with the people we work with. When times get tough, going home and saying that you work for Coca-Cola will probably not do it for you anymore. Going home and talking about your friends at work might be what does it.
This is one of the reasons why team building activities are really great. Team building doesn't work because it makes people suddenly collaborate better. Seriously, you're spending three hours playing fun games. But team building activities allow employees to create good relationships to each other. It's on that walk in the park you realize your desk neighbour likes electronic music as much as you do, and that he's been an amateur DJ while studying. That's also when you get to talk about things that you don't have time for at work. That's when the magic happens.
Sometimes it shocks me to look around the office. Luckily, this doesn't happen in the design team, but you don't have to walk long outside the tech department to find little robots sitting at their desks, not interacting with each other the whole day unless there's work talk involved. This is shocking for me, and definitely not an environment where I'd like to work.
When you go back to work on Monday, try looking around the office. Find someone to have a genuine converstation with. Leave the phone on the desk. Ask how their weekend went. No work talk! We're not doing this enough.
I believe that by creating good relationships with the people you work with, you'll be better yourself. This is one of the things that improves performance. It's not the afterhours drink. It's the genuine connection you make with other people.