How to have good working relationships in a small office

- June 9, 2011 3 MIN READ

When my business partner and I started out, we laid down some rules of engagement for good working relationships, including ‘employ people we really like.’

That’s because we were sick to death of working with people we really don’t like.

Here are our other rules:

  • Do things we love
  • Make things we are proud of
  • Don’t let work get in the way of a good friendship

As someone who is fascinated by relationships,  the ‘employ people we like’ rule really hooked me.  Assembling a team of people to work with each day that we actually liked… what a novelty, and an indulgence. Was it okay to be so emotional about decisions that most people think should be rational?  Do I even deserve to work in a happy workplace with people I like and respect? Can a happy, non-competitive workplace thrive?

Well, in the last three years we’ve seen people come and go. Everyone who has come to work with us has been great and we’ve certainly liked them all. But what we didn’t take into consideration until only recently was that as we grew, it didn’t only matter who we liked, it mattered who “we” liked. Abundant Media suddenly had a personality all of its own.

As you start to grow you not only have to consider hiring people that you like but also people who the people that you already work with will like and vice versa. And to make things even more, complicated it’s not only about like, but chemistry too. Good chemistry in a small office is VITAL!

Want more articles like this? Check out the business relationships section.

I’m sure as organisations get bigger, the need for such symbiosis gradually fades or becomes completely impossible, but for us, and our happy team of eight, it’s vital. And every time I consider hiring, I think about every individual, how they currently relate to the group and how the introduction of this new person will affect them and their feelings. Mostly, I rely on gut instinct, but I also ask myself these questions:

  • Will everyone still be happy calling out to the group when they have a work issue that needs solving?
  • Will it still be okay to have a daily counselling session for whoever happens to need it? We cover all matter of topics in this office. Husbands/wives, children, mothers, friends, insecurities, dreams, clothing, annoyances…
  • Will everyone still feel respected and valued when this person arrives? If one person feels inadequate it spells disaster.
  • Will they be givers or takers? When you have such a small group, it’s important to look for the givers.
  • Where do they sit in the “emotional” pie chart?  Sounds ridiculous, but if you think of eight parts to an emotional chart (and I’ve just made this up so go with me), you need strength, empathy, passion, energy, calm, logic, street-smart, and a little bravado. I’m sure there are more, but this is a start. So with anyone new, I look for the parts that might need a little boost.

So, after much hard work, thought and planning, I’m happy to say we’ve assembled an excellent team of people, and I’m pretty sure we are all happy to not only work with each other every day but to call one another friends.

One of the women in my office recently pointed out to me (very sympathetically) that I have cranky Mondays. And she’s right!  But I didn’t know it until she pointed it out.  I’m never prepared for them; they always sneak up on me. On Mondays, I feel deflated, insecure, positive that I’m going to fail at everything I try and frankly, really unattractive. That is until about 3pm, when one of the other wonderful women offers to go across to IGA for some “treats”. Then everything’s better.  It’s comforting to know the people I spend every weekday with are my friends. And more than anything, it’s important for whoever else comes on board to be okay with my cranky Mondays.

What part does chemistry play in your working relationships? Share the results of your experiments below.

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  • Andrew Caska

    Caska IP Patent Attorneys

    'Flying Solo opened up so many doors for us - I honestly don't know where I'd be without it"