One of the Gallup Q12 measures of employee satisfaction is how highly you score on “having a best friend at work”. We Brits tend to recoil from such an overt and emotional statement. But, with some interpretation it is possible to think of the benefit of knowing someone who is in the loop to chew over problems. Of course one’s partner can play that role in a wider context but they often don’t get the subtle nuances of the way an organisation acts because they are on the outside, and understanding that detail is often the key to resolving an issue.
I have been fortunate to have several people over the years who, especially if I was an American, I would be happy to describe as a “best friend at work”. At work is the point – although these have been close working relationships they have rarely spilled over into a wider friendship, although I have stayed in touch when moving on.
In my case having a different perspective has been helpful to me, and I think in return too. I’ve been fortunate to have people who worked with me who could take a vague idea of mine and come back a day or two later with a plan which is better than I ever considered. I’ve had people who questioned my thinking – not in a negative way but so that it can be thought through and so strengthened or else abandoned. And I’ve welcomed talking with others in similar manner for their benefit too.
I think it is clear that this does build engagement with the organisation. It makes going to work each day more stimulating, more fun. An organisation is a rather nebulous thing, working with people you like is a concrete benefit.
I met an old colleague of mine this week. We hadn’t seen each other since the end of 2005. Chatting over coffee it felt like we’d only been apart for a short while. Treasure these working relationships – even if as a diffident Brit you don’t mention them very often.