How we build meaningful relationships at work

“Speak, friend, and enter.”

Disclaimer: regrettably, our front door doesn’t reveal words of Elvish wisdom under the cover of moonlight. Nope, that is still in the realm of magic. But the moment you set foot in our office, you will find that we share the same affable sentiment.

Don’t get us wrong, though: it’s not always roses in the HR department (or any department for that matter). We too have had people who just haven’t been the right fit into our company culture, regardless of their commendable skills and experience. But failures are also an opportunity to learn – and learn we did.

Although we haven’t got elves or dwarves in our ranks, the esprit de corps shared by the human members of our little fellowship is indeed the glue that holds it together. We find that nurturing relationships is invaluable for business because it provides us with a keen sense of collective purpose.

So how do we do it? What’s it like to be part of the gang? How’s the ruckus in the office?

Building relationships comes naturally, but sustaining them is where the work’s at

While we are all fully aware that competitive pay and good benefits factor into an employee’s decision to join and stay at a company, there are definitely other motives that are equally important. Being in an inclusive environment where communication flows freely and naturally definitely falls into that category.

Alex, our Head of People Operations, says that from her experience a lot of today’s corporate organizations habitually view their employees through a robust, statistical, cost-effective lens. “In most cases,” she says, “people are all just numbers to corporations.”

The simple fact is that sustaining relationships is work in itself, whether it’s professional or personal. You can’t just expect it to happen.

That is why at Content Insights we strive to nurture camaraderie, placing value on developing and maintaining trust, providing support, and, of course, humor (the latter of which, is in our opinion, the backbone of all relationships).

Trust

It’s about reliability, communication, and respect, really.

It doesn’t hurt that here we count among our ranks some true industry titans, but even for those of us who haven’t become household names [yet], something we all have in common is a commitment to our work. We care about what we do. We want to see it done well. We encourage each other and push each other to do our best – and then some. And, we know that these are values which are shared – whichever department you’re in.

We aren’t a massive company. Lots of us wear many metaphorical hats (and some wear many literal ones too – just not usually simultaneously). We rely on each other to get the job – or jobs – done. Our contribution usually hinges on someone else’s.

So, trust is important and knowing that we can trust each other is vital.

Support

Too often employees find themselves in a situation where they don’t know if asking for help will be perceived positively or negatively. So they wind up avoiding asking, which can cause problems and communication mishaps further down the line.

To tackle this issue, we encourage employees to be honest and direct with their intentions, no matter how unnerving or complex they may seem. At the end of the day, clarity and understanding are the wheels that set things in motion, especially in the workplace where communication gaps can mount to costly outcomes.

The great thing about working with Content Insights people is that everyone is eager to impart useful knowledge, advice or tips within their profession, and this willingness to assist others builds a reputation for competence, cooperation, and respect. The simple act of lending a hand can do wonders for building goodwill.

Most of us are based in the office here in Novi Sad, but we have people who work remotely too. Early on – when the good ship Content Insights was less of a ship and more of a dingy – we utilized Slack out of necessity to connect those early people across state and international borders. It’s still an essential part of how we work for a simple reason: it facilitates transparency and affords sub-groups the platform and space to get on with their projects too.

Humor (or even just light relief)

We spend a third of our time at work, so it makes sense to invest in the experience. No one should have to spend their working day in solitude or isolation – and even if you’re an introvert who finds exuberant social situations awkward (if not downright uncomfortable), it makes a difference to know that you’re part of something.

Here, we don’t mandate that anyone flexes their ping pong muscles (though, frankly, the additional help would be nice), or help keep the local hostelries afloat on a Friday after work. That said, some of us do things as a company-wide team from time to time and have loved the experience. We fielded a surprising number of entrants into the local Business Run last year (we even trained together beforehand), and many more of us turned up to cheer them on.

What we’ve discovered from these extra-curricular activities is that it strengthens us as a team beyond our specific departments and groupings. Yes, we’re a small company, but because we’re a passionate bunch, it’s quite normal for us to spend days locked into our own tasks and responsibilities. Even here, where the number of employees totals around 30, we know how important it is to connect beyond our teams.

Our teams are typically scattered about the office space, with eyes locked onto the computer screen, but come lunchtime, we make the effort to mingle. Sometimes we call out for Greek food. Sometimes we deconstruct last night’s episode of whatever TV show we’re currently all massively into. Once a month someone takes to the podium for Show Off Friday.

All these things help remind us that we’re all more than our job titles – they help us feel more individual and, in feeling we’re able to be authentically ‘us’, we’re likely to feel more comfortable at work too.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us

We think that investing in people is something that’s worthwhile. More than that, it’s essential. At Content Insights we’re greater than the sum of our parts, and it’s because when people connect, their strengths become superpowers.

And, if you don’t believe us, you only have to look at what having a great team around did for Frodo.

So what are the key takeaways? What do we find to be the most important things to consider when building meaningful relationships at work?

  • Forming relationships is easy, but maintaining them is work
  • Nobody can read minds. If people are to understand you, you need to find common ground
  • Help comes only to those who ask for it
  • A well-fed, well-rested body connects better
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