Last month I wrote a couple of posts about The Best Behaviors I’ve Shown As An Employee and The Worst Mistakes I’ve Made As An Employee. They were very well received with the post on worst mistakes being the most viewed post on this blog in the two years the blog has existed. Having examined myself first in those posts, I now turn my attention to what I appreciate most and what annoys me the most in coworkers. I’ll split the topics into two posts. Having worked at a number of places over 40 years, do not make any assumptions about particular places, teams or individuals referenced. I would never name names in a negative comment.
Since many working adults spend more waking hours with coworkers than with their families weekly, how we get along with others at work is important. When relationships are good and healthy, when work is fun and fulfilling, life is good. Most of us, though, have experienced those jobs or coworkers from time to time where interpersonal conflict and other issues cause stress and dissatisfaction. This post focuses on the characteristics and behaviors that I most appreciate in coworkers. My next post will deal with the flip side.
Here they are, not in any particular order of importance:
1. Strong work ethic. I don’t necessarily expect everyone to willingly and consistently put in the 50-55 hours per week I typically give, but I do expect people to work hard and to go above and beyond when needed. It turns me off if someone is so tied to a clock that they don’t consider putting in more than the minimum required. I love working with people who are driven to give their best and to put in the time necessary to put out quality work.
2. Sense of humor. It’s amazing how much quicker a day goes by when it is sprinkled with laughter and good-natured fun along the way. The presence of humor makes me want to be with the sources of that humor.
3. Creativity. I don’t claim to be very creative, but I appreciate others who can look at issues and tasks in new ways, present solutions I would never think of, and turn something otherwise mundane and bland into something that meets a need in an appealing, attractive, and unique way. There are almost always better ways to accomplish things, and being surrounded by creative minds increases the likelihood of coming up with remarkable solutions to business needs.
4. Willingness to help. When coworkers notice that a colleague is sinking under a heavy workload and needs help, it is encouraging to see them offer to share the load even if they already have a full plate themselves. Sometimes we all need a helping hand, and having colleagues you can turn to in a pinch or who initiate offering help is a godsend.
5. Emotional maturity. It is not helpful in an office when people wear their emotions on their sleeves and don’t know how to stay professional. I like working with others who can address matters calmly, reasonably, and with a common purpose of solving problems, moving forward, and getting things done. It is nice when people can receive constructive criticism and suggestions willingly. It’s helpful when others do not take things too personally when the intent of the conversation is to do what is in the best interests of the company and the work to be done.
6. Integrity. I like working with people who do what they say they they will do. I respect people who are honest in all situations. I expect that of myself and of others. Without it, I just can’t trust you, and that will negatively impact our ability to work together.
7. Initiative. It is invigorating to work on a team where individuals constantly think of new things that can be done as well as new and better ways to do what has been done in the past. When colleagues act on those inclinations, you have a scenario where the workers are fully engaged and enthusiastic about what they bring to the table, and the company ultimately benefits. It’s a win-win for the worker and the business.
8. Willingness to bend or break the rules. This one may get me in trouble. While it is important to live within corporate policies, it is also important to put faith in trusted, proven individuals and give them some leeway to act on their knowledge, experience, and instincts, even if some rules get bent in the process. Most of us don’t have to think too long and hard to come up with frustrating examples of corporate practices and policies that have been allowed to morph into some giant, life-sucking, time-consuming albatross around the necks of people who simply want to get their jobs done in the most efficient and effective manner possible. The rebel in me loves people willing to break rules in order to do a better job at something, asking forgiveness rather than permission.
9. Managers who give me a job to do and turn me loose to do it. I have been blessed with more managers than not who have trusted me to get my work done without them breathing down my neck and trying to micromanage everything I do. If I need help, I’ll ask for it. Otherwise, they can know that all is well. Check in with me every week or two to hold me accountable, but otherwise give me space and I’ll do you proud. Those who understand that and give me that freedom get my best work. Those who do not are now former managers.
10. Friendship. I don’t have to be best friends with anyone at work, but I do like thinking of several as genuine friends – people with whom I would be glad to hang out outside of work from time to time. That requires common interests, liking each other, and someone taking the initiative to get together outside of work occasionally. There is much to be gained from simply going out for a meal together or joining in some fun activity just for the heck of it.
So there you have my top ten characteristics or behaviors I most appreciate in coworkers. Some of my roles and teams have aligned better with those expectations than others. I am incredibly fortunate to be on a stellar team now that lives up to all of these.
What about you? What do you appreciate most in a coworker?