Most of the time, a job requires you to be team-oriented and ready to work with people. Some jobs might be entirely a solo venture, but more often than not, you need to interact with your co-workers to finish the tasks that were given. However, doing group work is much like when you were in school: sometimes, it is better if you do it alone.
Then again, you cannot continue being a soloist when it comes to working in the long run. There is a point in time when you need to either be the better workmate, or make your co-workers work with you by helping them become more coordinated with the team. In any case, everyone needs to know how to make him or herself the better person to get others to work with you easier.
Make teamwork a priority.
If you can make teamwork a part of the performance management system, your workmates would most likely make teamwork a priority. This begins with performance expectations when someone joins the organization. In essence, try to have a measuring stick when it comes to team dynamics. Also, it is important to set expectations then assess these expectations at the end of the time period.
It’s best if there’s a way for the organization and its members to assess their contribution to the team as part of your annual performance review process. If you don’t measure the contributions of the workers and just simply give people the expectations at the very beginning of their role with the organization, it may not be seen as priority.
Explore your feelings and behavior towards your colleagues. Social and professional relationships are always interactive. In fact, a majority of the communication that occurs is both subconscious and reactive.
For example, if your colleagues seem to be difficult, they may actually be reacting to the signals you are giving off – whether consciously or subconsciously. While this might be a bitter pill to swallow, you may be the very root of the problem and the first step toward recovery is discovering this.
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t complain to management.
Going over someone’s head to leverage them with authority is the best way to gain faux cooperation that is backed by an insidious play. It may not be enough if you just report to the management your situation with regard to the habits that you don’t like about your co-workers. In fact, it may just make things worse.
Take whatever steps are necessary to remedy your situation first, and only turn to management as the last resort.
Try to build friendships, not walls.
Befriending your workmates has its own pros and cons. It doesn’t help at all to build walls to separate yourselves from your workmates. If you’re afraid of the cons of being too friendly with your workmates, you can at least make them a few steps more than acquaintances.
Hangout with them. Buy them a beer (it doesn’t matter if they’re a Heineken-kinda-guy or Stella Artois connoisseur) after a long day of work. If you can’t come to his wedding or their birthday, try at least to send them out-of-the-box gifts like groomsmen gifts from Bullets2Bandages. You wouldn’t know how much a simple friendship could take you in terms of group dynamics. Besides, having more friends wouldn’t hurt anyone anyway.
Go out to lunch or for a drink.
If a deep commitment for friendships is too much, at least be social with your workmates. When colleagues don’t get along or don’t work well together, it simply might be that they don’t really know each other. The best way to get to know a coworker better is to spend some time with them outside the office.
Offer to take them out to lunch and just chat with them as a buddy. You can also ask to meet them after work for a drink. Your workmates might be more accommodating and more open discussing non-work related small talk when it’s “not business as usual”. Use the time to find out what you have in common outside of work.
Communicate directly with workmates.
In improving a work-related relationship, the best way is to communicate directly with them. As mentioned above, complaining to management can worsen things between you and your workmate.
Instead, ask your co-worker if they have some time to speak with you, maybe at the end of the day once all of your projects are completed. Just state your feelings in a non-accusatory way, tell your co-worker that you’d really like it if you can help each other in the future and work better together, and ask them what you can do to make this happen.
Address the problems head on. If someone seems to be abrasive or even combative, relay your concerns to them and ask if there is something you can do to help. It is uncomfortable, potentially embarrassing, and certainly not the easiest route; it is, however, the most effective and probably the more efficient way to take on issues with workmates.
Do unto others what you like others to do unto you.
Reciprocity is something that adults, like your workmates, innately embrace. If you happily help people first, others automatically feel a sense of obligation to return the favor – most of the time.
When you have an extra free minute or two ask your co-workers if they need help with anything, or engage in random act of kindness. Most likely, your colleagues would reciprocate, and thus improve the way you work together.
Give incentive, if incentives are due.
Don’t give them just the stick; you have carrots, too, and it’s always better if you supply your workmates with positive reinforcement. You may present your case to a colleague as to why they need to work better with you. However, without an incentive, they may not be as accommodating.
It could be as easy as explaining to them that by improving the work relationship between both of you, they would have more support from you, they can enjoy their work more, and they could get better results. Tell them that this can potentially lead to more appreciation and recognition from upper management, which hopefully could lead to a promotion and a raise down the line; and conversely, by not working well together, this scenario could be more difficult to achieve.
Celebrate and reward great teamwork.
To add to the previous point, it’s always effective if you can celebrate the teamwork or the improvement of workmate relationships that you’ve done.
Most employees won’t go out of their way to work well with others, unless there’s something in it for them. However, if you’ve already explained to your co-worker how they can benefit from working with you better, and he or she still isn’t doing it, talk to your boss about implementing some type of rewards or recognition program. Employers should acknowledge workers regularly for their team efforts and loyalty, both in private and to the entire team.
Find out their challenges and obstacles
Don’t always assume that the reason why a co-worker doesn’t work well with you is because it’s personal. It may be that they don’t have the aptitude for the job or don’t have the training necessary to do a great job.
If this is the case, offer to train them or help them in any way. They can see you in a new light – as an asset and not a liability.