Office Coach: Social effort sometimes needed at work
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Question: During my last performance review, my manager told me that I need to improve my interpersonal relationships. Some of my co-workers apparently said that I don't talk to them enough. I actually am a friendly person, but at work my only goal is to get my tasks completed. In my opinion, we're here to do a job, not waste a lot of time chatting and joking. My manager recently assigned me to a new team, so I now have a chance to change his opinion. How can I get off to a good start with this group?
Answer: You and your former colleagues provide a perfect illustration of a common personality difference. Some people naturally gravitate towards tasks, while others are drawn to social interaction. But even task-oriented folks, like yourself, are often more successful when they invest some time in building relationships.
If your new teammates also tend to be worker bees, then you should have no trouble being accepted. But if this is another bunch of social butterflies, you may need to make a special effort to fit in.
For example, when you see co-workers chatting, take a few minutes to join the conversation. If they regularly eat lunch together, don't have a solitary meal at your desk.
To determine whether you have succeeded in changing your boss's perceptions, ask him for feedback at regular intervals. This will allow you to make appropriate course corrections and avoid unpleasant surprises at review time.
First Published November 11, 2012 12:00 am