Since many of us work in an office with many co-workers, these inevitable interactions may lead us to wonder: How can colleagues help your career?
Once you land your career job, there are many ways to approach your day-to-day workplace habits and behaviors. Some people opt to be the most friendly, gregarious, positive workers they can, valuing every face-to-face networking opportunity they can find and generally maintaining a sociable demeanor. Others may elect to form more of a “lone wolf” role, as they seek maximum efficiency and productivity without having to deal with the needless distractions and shortcomings of co-worker interaction.
In either case, it is undeniable that co-workers can fill the entire spectrum between being disastrous, gossipy, project-destroying team members or genuinely compatible, beneficial, helpful friends in the workplace. What may be especially difficult for lone-rogue types to grasp is exactly how your colleagues can help your career and how co-workers can actually benefit your long-term outlook.
On the job, many tasks will arise that demand more than simple button-pushing or paper-collating. Though we all hope to end up in a field that we are qualified for, even within the realm of our comfort zone there often come duties that we need a little assistance with.
For these kinds of odd to-dos, our colleagues are invaluable, since they can provide exactly the missing skill set needed to complete the objective. Even if a co-worker does not have the certain special skill necessary, they can at least pitch in to make sure that the project proceeds productively and more efficiently.
Often, friendships with colleagues and co-workers extend beyond the workplace. Whether casual acquaintances often just hang out somewhere, or genuinely grow into true friendships, is on a case-by-case basis.
But it is typically worthwhile to at least form a positive relationship with your colleagues, simply because opportunities will inevitably present themselves. For instance, if you have bonded with a co-workers, and one of you leaves the company, it will benefit to still be in touch and be able to communicate. If you are the one who left and it was for a messy reason, it may be within your interests to warn your co-workers about the circumstances that led to your departure. Conversely, if your co-worker jumped ship for greener pastures, then unless you have a great amount of organizational loyalty, you may be interested to hear exactly what they have found and if they can bring someone else on board.
One simple reason to form positive networks within your workplace is so that, if you ever transfer jobs or even departments, you will have people to point back to in order to put in a good word for you, or even a recommendation. In present-day career fields where job openings are competitively contested for and even in-company promotions are wildly gamed over, these affirmations can be the difference-maker to seal the deal.
There are, of course, other ways colleagues can help your career, or that co-workers can come in handy. Many of these are unpredictable; you never know when you will need someone to jump-start your car in the parking lot, cover for you when you need to leave early one day, or help hold a surprise birthday party for a underappreciated manager. The path we travel to find our career is different for everyone, but no matter where we end up, it is best to forge positive relationships along the way.