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Five things I learned from connecting with my colleagues

Posted by
26 Sep 2017
In our fast-paced, rapidly changing world, it is often difficult to spend time with people outside of your team, especially when there are no initiatives in place! To celebrate National Inclusion Week this year I decided to make a conscious effort to speak with people from across Sellick Partnership. Over the past five days I decided to test this by speaking and connecting with a number of colleagues outside my department, and document what I learned along the way.

It pays to make a positive first impression

You create an impression in business with every person you meet for the first time. In a networking environment, in just a few seconds of your introduction, a person carries out quick evaluation which can be difficult to reverse. A good first impression with confidence and professionalism sets the tone for what you represent as you make contacts and build relationships within your organisation.

This is the same when meeting and introducing yourself to new colleagues, and I have learned just how important making a good first impression is to a business. Sellick Partnership are currently going through an ambitious internal recruitment drive, and as a result a number of new faces have joined the business recently. As I am part of the marketing team I work across our network of seven offices, so it is essential that we make a good first impression when meeting new colleagues. Our introduction sets the tone for our long-term working relationship. It is therefore extremely satisfying when a new employee praises the work we do, and feels we have helped them settle in to their new role. Over the past few months, we have been instrumental in welcoming new employees to the business, giving them the necessary tools to succeed and highlighting our services that they can take as a marketing department.

You can discover common ground and shared values

Working with people from other backgrounds exposes you to customs, cultures and practices you might never have otherwise come in contact with. A willingness to get to know your colleagues on a personal level will create a sense of goodwill in the workplace that can translate to better professional collaboration. Most people, when asked in an appropriate way, are more than happy to talk about differences between cultures. This can give you greater insight into why people think, behave and act the way they do. Be open to discussing your own background and cultural beliefs, provided these conversations do not turn into inappropriate workplace conversation.

When people take time to share a bit of their story, you not only learn about their experiences, you discover something about who they are and what matters to them. This week I managed to find out a number of things from my colleagues, each of which has given me a real insight into their day-to-day roles and lives outside of work, and I have gained insights and got to know each of them better.

Trusting relations help 

Cultural differences vary greatly, from religious beliefs to cultural norms. People from diverse backgrounds bring a number of different socially-acceptable professional and personal practices into the workplace. Whether or not you agree with your colleagues, it is important to respect any differences. This means restraining yourself from commenting on things you are unfamiliar with or do not particularly agree with and accepting your colleagues’ cultural backgrounds for what they are.

I have found that I work better with people I know, like, and trust, as do many of my colleagues. This can only happen when you take the time to get to know someone and connect with them in some meaningful way. Just because you have worked alongside people for a while does not mean you know them enough to trust them! 

Talking can improve mental wellbeing

Evidence shows that good relationships – with family, friends and our colleagues – are important for our mental wellbeing. Mental wellbeing means feeling good about ourselves and functioning well. Building stronger, wider social connections can help us feel happier and more secure, and give us a greater sense of purpose. Making new friends and socialising is an important aspect of our human nature. Developing new relationships leads to higher self-esteem and confidence. By taking steps to improve yourself and connecting to people you can move your career forward. Your confidence will continue to grow as you become more comfortable with networking. In my experience, I would agree. Simply speaking with a number of colleagues from various teams that you would not necessarily have spoken to before has given me a burst of energy. Listening to other people’s drive and determination to do well has really spurred me on, and I would recommend it to anyone.

Diversity is broader than you think

Diversity in the workplace is a good thing – you will not find many people that disagree. But what I have found from speaking with my colleagues that it is about much more than hiring people from underrepresented groups. When many people first think of diversity, they think of hot topics such as ‘equal opportunity’, an insufficient number of women on Boards or dress codes. True that these issues are challenging, but diversity is so much more than that. True diversity is about involving people who represent a genuine cross-section of age, experience, background, skills, experience and, where suitable, race and culture. 
To find out how you can ensure your workforce is connected and inclusive follow the below link to an exclusive Q&A with Managing Director Jo Sellick. Culture of inclusion

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