Have you ever ticked off your coworkers and didn’t know why?
You didn’t mean to. You’re working hard, moving fast, and advocating for your team. And one day you overhear two coworkers complaining about you in the hallway. Or you catch a peer typing “WTF” under the table in a staff meeting.
Avoid Damaging Your Reputation With Coworkers By Avoiding These 7 Mistakes
Here are seven big mistakes we’ve seen many well-intentioned, hard-working managers (sadly including ourselves) make while working diligently to improve the business—inadvertently ticking off their peers in the process.
1. Over-advocating for Your Team
Of course, advocating for, and defending your team, is generally a good characteristic. People want to know their boss has their backs.
But be careful to keep a realistic and balanced perspective.
Sometimes the best person for that coveted special assignment isn’t YOUR box nine candidate, but THEIR’S.
Sometimes it’s YOUR TEAM that screwed things up NOT THEIRS. And yes, sometimes the bigger bonus needs to go to the guy on the other team who knocked it out of the park—even though your team has been working hard too.
Yes, advocate for your team. But also take a step back and stay objective.
2. Hoarding Talent
When you’ve spent significant time developing your team, it can be difficult to let them go to another team or department—even if it’s in their best interest, or for the greater good of the organization. After all, who wants to be the farm team for the rest of the company?
Take the long-view. As you become known as a leader who both develops AND supports people’s career growth, you’ll become a magnet for high-potential talent drawn to that kind of support.
3. Unbridled Tenacity
When you know you’re “right” it can be tough to figure out how to also be effective. When you disagree in front of an audience, particularly if that audience is your boss, even if you’re right, your peers may feel like you’ve thrown them under the bus.
Be willing to lose a battle or two. Stakeholder potentially contentious issues off-line. When conflict arises, pick up the phone instead of shooting off a frustrated email. Resist the urge to work out conflicts in front of others. Resolving coworker conflict is not a spectator sport.
4. Not Spending Enough Time Together
It’s easy to under-invest in coworker relationships. Leaders tend to focus on their team and boss first and hope the peer relationships will evolve naturally. Just like any human interaction, coworker relationships take time and energy to grow properly.
In addition, peer relationships are naturally tricky since you’re often competing in a stack rack, for resources or for senior leader attention.
Make a deliberate investment in the relationship. Take time to understand your coworker’s goals and objectives. Ask them what worries them and how you can help. Break bread. Learn about who they are outside of work. Invest in their success.
5. Not Asking For Help
When you know your coworkers are slammed, you don’t want to ask for help. But if others are reaching out and supporting one another, not asking for help can be perceived as arrogance.
Take time to understand your coworkers’ strengths and areas of expertise. Ask for their advice or support from time-to-time. Of course, be sure to offer your support in return.
6. Not Acknowledging Their Contribution
Okay, suppose they did help you. And now you’re getting praise for your great work. But forget to mention their support. And now they’re ticked.
Be gracious in your public gratitude and go out of your way to make a big deal out of the support you’ve received from others— particularly in front of the people that matter most to your peers.
7. Withholding Best Practices
Often high-performers will share if asked but are too busy (or competitive) to do so proactively. Or they don’t share because they don’t want to look braggy. Meanwhile, people are wasting time spinning their wheels because they’re unaware that a coworker has already figured out a better way.
Suggest ways to make it easy and natural for your team to regularly share best practices (here are some ideas on how to do that).
Sometimes when you’re moving fast and working hard, it’s easy to slip off of one of these slippery slopes and damage a peer relationship. It’s never to late invest more deeply for greater influence and impact.
What else would you add? What do you see as the biggest mistakes derailing coworker relationships?