Offices are a microcosm of humanity. They are a mix of all types of people, with all types of personalities, quirks, goals and challenges, so for everyone to get along beautifully, it takes effort.
You probably remember a time in your career when a “clash of personalities” corrupted a productive working environment. You can prevent this from happening and create harmony in your office with these seven simple practices.
1. Say thank you.
These two little words may be the most powerful when it comes to creating happiness and harmony. People work hard and take pride in their accomplishments, but can feel overlooked. Taking time to acknowledge even the smallest achievement can make a person feel valued. Say thank you not only for the big job they’ve completed, say thank you when they open the door, offer to get you coffee, or invite you to lunch. Offer a genuine thank you every day.
2. Notice the little things.
If a co-worker or employee is happy at his or her job, they will go out of their way to add a little extra to their commitment. They might take on an extra assignment or stay late to help out with an uncompleted project. Or they may do subtle things like clean up the kitchen area or edit a company document on which they noticed errors. The more you notice and offer thanks for these little “extras,” the more you will build happiness and harmony in the office, and the more motivated your co-workers will become to continue looking for ways to improve the business.
3. Avoid idle gossip.
Gossip can tarnish office harmony. It might seem entertaining at the moment, but underneath, it builds distrust. Resentments build, people begin to wonder if they are the one being gossiped about, and chasms open. Establish a “no-gossip policy” and enforce it. Extend your no-gossip policy for events outside the office as well, such as happy hours, company outings or holiday parties, where relaxed environments and alcohol can loosen inhibitions.
4. Maintain an open door policy.
Establish an open environment for discussion by creating a “come to me anytime” system. Be open to suggestions, complaints or discussions without judgment. Because people come from different backgrounds and experiences, everyone has their own way of looking at things. By listening, you can understand what others see from their point of view instead of your own. When people feel open to talk, you can nip problems in the bud before they escalate into real obstacles or unearth substantial opportunities you may not have noticed before.
5. Create a team environment.
Hold regular meetings with the entire office and empower co-workers to take “ownership” in the business. If they feel their opinions and insights hold value, they will be more likely to use their talents and creativity to help build the business as a whole. Instead of taking orders, they will work together to look for ways to improve.
6. Offer to help.
Jump in and be hands-on yourself. Whenever you are stuck, overworked or faced with a major deadline, you know how you appreciate a helping hand. It may take a little extra effort, but pitch in to help your co-workers over a hump.
7. Socialize outside of work.
Build friendships and harmonies outside of work with casual outings. Plan a monthly happy hour, establish a yearly barbeque picnic, or kick up a friendly competition with a bowling or softball tournament. The relaxed environment will create bonds that go deeper than the company’s latest accounting policies.
In the words of Henry Ford: “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success."