Getting the Right Balance between Friend and Colleague
Just as there are a million and one places to work, there are just as many types of working relationship.
Some work places thrive on creative relationships, colleagues building real friendships in work and out, in order for their companies to thrive – industries such as recruitment, advertising and new media, for example.
Other sectors are more likely to have corporate success built on mutual agreement of behaviour, respect and codes of conduct that are more task driven than personality lead. Industries including banking, insurance and engineering may be less encouraging of personal relationships.
Of course, these are huge generalisations and you will find banks that have riotous nights out and advertising agencies that do not have ‘blue sky’ rooms and beers in the fridge. However, company types do attract different types of personality and, as such, it is useful to see where you fit in. This may be because you are feeling like you are not quite right for your current environment and are thinking about looking for a role in a company that better matches your character, or it may be that you are keen to make sure that you do not over step the mark at work and are looking for some rules of appropriate behaviour.
Square Peg in a Round Hole?
Either way, the starting point is to look, honestly, at the type of place where you work, the areas where you fit in perfectly and the parts where you are really rather a square peg in a round hole. Don’t forget that you are an individual, first and foremost. You do not want to wake up the day after you retire and think ‘Why did I do that? I never really liked my job.’ The goal here is to be a skilled, valued, enthusiastic member of a workplace that you enjoy being a part of, feel that you are paid appropriately for your efforts and can relax at the end of a long week. You may think this is totally unobtainable – work is always an endless round of tedium and/or stress. But the truth is, it is obtainable.
You may think that only pop stars and football players love their jobs and that your role in accounts at the local builders merchants, or whatever, is simply the way you pay your bills. But you can enjoy your work, whatever you do, and build solid relationships with the colleagues you see day in, day out.
If you feel like you do fit in with your current workplace and would like a few tips on making your work friendships stay appropriate, you could look to your boss. See what types of friendships they maintain within the office – do they go for drinks on Fridays that end up at a club or back to someone’s flat? Do they chat about their personal life? Do they tell near the knuckle jokes and make sure they always get the coffee? These environments tend to be more modern, creative places, regardless of industry. As a rule, affairs are always out, as is openly criticising your boss.
If you do not feel like you fit in with your current workplace but would like to, you too could look to your boss and see what signals their work behaviour offer and take your queues from them. If you don’t fit in and are happy to keep it that way, it may be that you would be better suited to another industry where your colleagues would be more like you. You could get some careers advice or talk to your friends in other industries to see if your transferable skills in a new working environment would allow your character to shine.