This is a guest post by Michael Lee Stallard


After years of patiently “paying your dues,” the big day is finally here: you are about to start your dream job. You are convinced that this new role is a perfect fit for your interests, strengths and experience and believe that at last you will discover the truth of Confucius’ adage, “choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.”


But as you settle into the new role, things aren’t going as smoothly as you anticipated. Sure, your daily tasks are ok, but you find yourself still leaving the office each day feeling discouraged and dissatisfied.


question-whatDisillusionment begins to set in. Maybe I’m not right for this job after all, or maybe satisfaction in work is all just a myth, you think.


The culprit here isn’t necessarily the fact that the job is a poor fit, and career satisfaction is indeed possible. The real reason for your struggle may very well be that you’ve unconsciously believed the lie that WHAT you do is more important than WHO you do it with.


Research shows that having strong relationships with people at work is the key to feeling engaged in your job. When you feel connected to your colleagues, you are more energized, motivated and satisfied.


Not convinced? Consider this: according to Gallup Research, 30 percent of employees have a best friend at work. These employees are seven times more likely to be engaged than the average employee, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work and have higher levels of well-being. People who don’t have a best friend at work have just a one in 12 chance of being engaged.


That doesn’t mean that you have to work where your friends work, but it does mean that you should try to make friends where you work.


Here are three practical steps you can take to strengthen your work relationships so you can be more connected and engaged in your job:


  1. Proactively help others. If you want to make friends, you have to be a friend. Start by looking for simple ways you can proactively help your colleagues. For example, you could send a colleague an interesting article that may help him do his job better, that relates to a topic he is interested in, or that may help him in some way outside of work.


  1. Learn their stories, and be willing to share yours. Get to know who your colleagues really are as individuals. Find out what their interests are outside of work. Pay close attention to the way they approach their work and interact with others to discern what makes them tick. Ask about their career ambitions and the path that led to where they are today. Then be willing to open up and share the same information about yourself with them.


  1. View break time as relationship-building time. Lunch and other breaks throughout the day are the perfect time to build relationships. Whether you bring lunch to the office or go out to eat, be deliberate about inviting your colleagues to join you. When you refill your coffee cup or grab a quick afternoon snack, greet those you meet along the way and don’t be afraid to pause for a moment to ask about their day.


The next time you are tempted to give up on your dreams of finding contentment and satisfaction at work, ask yourself whether you are putting too much emphasis on the type of work you are doing rather than who you are doing it with. By investing the time to connect with your colleagues, you will discover more joy in work than you ever thought possible.


About the guest post author:connection-culture

Michael Lee Stallard, president of E Pluribus Partners, speaks, teaches workshops and coaches leaders. He is the author of the upcoming book Connection Culture: The Competitive Advantage of Shared Identity, Empathy, and Understanding at Work (Association for Talent Development).

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