Organizations don’t exist without communication. The very process of organizing (establishing roles, responsibilities, vision, values, goals, reward and recognition structures, hiring, etc.) requires communication. Several areas of communication are especially relevant to coworker relationships.
Teamwork in white-collar organizations is the act of communicating with coworkers. Few occasions demand that people physically help you when you have work to do in white-collar organizations. More frequently, you need people to respond to your requests for information or help you solve specific problems.
Related Employee Surveys
Employee Satisfaction Survey – Fairness factors into many of the key topics associated with an employee satisfaction survey. This key factor will play a significant role in improving productivity, job satisfaction, and loyalty.
View all Employee Surveys by NBRI.
Teamwork within workgroups is easier to manage than teamwork among workgroups. Typically, managers need to take an active role in establishing the relationships with other departments and the expectations of the nature and degree of teamwork among departments. Employee survey data results back up this finding.
Tip: Senior management can help teamwork among departments by creating and maintaining clear vision and value statements that help people see each other as similar groups working toward shared goals.
Acceptance of Co-Workers. We are more likely to trust, accept, and communicate with people whom we perceive to be similar to ourselves. Groups tend to isolate people they don’t trust and accept. Frequently, we assume this is a race or gender issue, but it is broader than that.
Example: In a Midwestern home office of an insurance company, a department of white-male underwriters isolated another white-male underwriter because he was single, college-educated, and drove a sports car – while the typical underwriters were high school educated, married, and drove family cars.
The criteria that workgroups use to include or exclude others are arbitrary. With one group, it could be gender. With another, it could be physical fitness. This is an issue of power, rather than the criteria itself. One quality the criteria typically share is that the person is not able to change that quality easily (e.g., ethnicity, gender, length of service, religion, or place of origin).
Be proactive. The extent to which managers thwart the relative exclusion and isolation of employees will make a significant difference in the employees’ tenure and ability to contribute to the organization. Create situations that require all employees to participate. Managers can also identify mentors for new-hires to help make sure they get important information. Again, employee surveys can help identify areas that require improvement in order to best utilize your workforce.
Summary. Managing coworker relationships can be challenging. Unfortunately, people don’t come with instruction manuals. Even in the best of environments, it can be hard to get people to talk about their problems in a constructive way. The best method is to create a workplace that promotes positive human relationships and you will encounter fewer problems (i.e., fire prevention is more efficient than fire fighting). If your workplace has the five good qualities discussed here (adequate resources, minimal zero-sum games, trust, fairness, and good communication), you will gain from greater employee satisfaction, tenure, and productivity.
A quantitative diagnosis, or employee survey, helps you manage co-worker relationships by identifying which issues are a problem, where they are a problem, and to what extent they are a problem.