Gallup recently issued their 2017 State of the American Workplace report, complete with its list of top predictors of engagement/performance/productivity. The list was populated with the usual predictable indicators such as: “I know what’s expected of me at work”, “I have the materials/equipment I need to do my work right”, and “The mission/purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important”.
But there it was, smack in the middle of the very strongest indicators of high-performance:
“I have a best friend at work”
Gallup admits: “More than any other element, ‘I have a best friend at work’ tends to generate questions and skepticism (and even controversy). But one stubborn fact about this element of engagement cannot be denied–it predicts performance.”
Apparently, according to Gallup, those with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be fully engaged. Other research shows having a best friend at work induces more loyalty (less attrition), makes befriended workers feel like there’s more on the line, leads to better communication and encouragement while doing the work, and yields more honest feedback and critical evaluation.
So how to get more of this? It’s a topic so critical and timely that I’m revisiting the subject and riffing off a previous post of mine on the matter.
Here are six ways to cultivate camaraderie:
1. Create purposeful bonding experiences
There’s nothing wrong with grabbing a cocktail with your cohorts. But the idea here is to be intentional and design a breadth of experiences with a specific purpose in mind to aid in the bonding process.
You can craft shared experiences of substance like celebrating team success/failures together and engaging in opportunities to learn together.
You can foster shared identity experiences–opportunities to work as a team to accomplish a specific mission that could only be achieved by that team.
You can also forge shared crucible moments–opportunities to make a critical decision, react to a crisis, or set a compelling vision; all as a unified team.
Finally, you can coordinate appreciation enhancing experiences–namely rituals that shine the spotlight on an individual and their accomplishments and/or enable more to be learned about him/her.
2. Spread positive gossip
Get caught talking about your co-workers, in an upbeat way. When the wisps of goodwill organically make their way back to the protagonist, it has a powerful, connective impact.
We’re instinctively drawn to our supporters.
3. Give them 10 percent more
We all know how it feels when you see a waiter, sales clerk, or flight attendant give that extra effort. You feel important and cared for and have an urge to reward their dedication in some form. (Maybe by re-gifting your Starbucks card even though you’ve already bought two lattes with it. Hey, it’s the thought that counts.)
Anyway, you get the instant sense that you can count on such people.
It’s no different with our co-workers. Making a conscious effort to put 10 percent more into what you’re helping them with, or into your own work, will be noticed by a factor of ten.
4. Invite their gifts in
Nothing enhances a sense of belonging and feeling valued more than being asked to share the things that make you so valuable in the first place.
When people appreciate your unique qualities, it creates a bond. Facilitate this by creating an environment where others feel comfortable, appreciated, and warmly invited to share their unique talents. They’ll return the favor.
5. Have their backs, both openly and subtly
Help your compatriots solve a circumstance, look for ways to help and support them, share information they could benefit from, accept their imperfections, and be their fiercest advocates.
Just as powerful: You can look for those quiet moments, when no one else is looking, where you can help create a positive impression of them or help move something forward that’s important to them, like a project or even their career. As with positive gossip, if your subtle efforts ever do get back to the recipient, it’ll have a multiplicative bonding impact.
6. Exude the bellwether behaviors of camaraderie
Care enough about your cohorts to truly take an interest in them.
Be compassionate and vulnerable (which will invite the same in return).
Exude positive, authentic energy (which will also invite the same in return).
So forward this article to your besties and remind them that you couldn’t do it without them–nor could your company.
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.