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The Symbiotic Relationship – Mutual Benefits in the Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Dec 17, 2018 in Thinking Positive

Having meaningful relationships with people you work with has many benefits. For starters, work is much more enjoyable when you get along well with those around you. The happier you are at work, the more productive you will be. Having good working relationships is also great for collaboration, innovation and creativity, from which the whole organisation will benefit.

So, how do you build strong, positive relationships at work? The way you treat people plays a huge role in your relationships with them. You have to appreciate the people around you, communicate with them openly, and make a genuine effort to get to know them. Through this effort, you’ll gain mutual respect, trust and admiration, which are critical characteristics of any healthy working relationship. Follow these simple tips to form a deeper connection with your work colleagues.

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Image source: Unsplash

Schedule Quality Time

 Spending quality time with colleagues outside of work is obviously the best way to build closer relationships. Create a list of colleagues that you’d like to get to know a bit better, whether it’s a team member or just someone you see in the elevator each morning. Ask them to grab a coffee when they’re free or invite them to eat lunch with you.

Try to do this on a regular basis with different colleagues. Once you begin forming deeper connections with people at work, you soon feel a greater sense of purpose and job satisfaction.

Show Your Appreciation:

 Everyone wants to be appreciated for their hard work. Take a moment during the work day to show your appreciation to the people around you, whether it’s your boss or your co-worker. Send them a thoughtful handwritten thank you note, stop by their cubicle to say thanks, or treat them to a coffee. It may not seem like much, but people feel will closer to you if you take notice of their contributions. By showing your appreciation, you will also inspire them to keep working hard.

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Image source: Unsplash

Exercise Together

 Exercising with other people is a great bonding experience. You can lift each other up and motivate each other to do better, and work towards a shared goal. Exercise has also been shown to be beneficial for workplace productivity. It can boost your mood, re-focus your mind and improve your overall energy levels.

So, find time to exercise with your co-workers during your lunch breaks. Ask them to join you for a quick workout out or a walk around the block. Through this, you’ll reap the physical benefits of exercise and also form new friendships.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you’re stuck on a problem or need a little assistance with a project you’re working on, don’t be afraid to ask others for help. Many people avoid asking for help at work because they don’t want to be a bother.

However, more often than not, your colleagues will appreciate that you came to them because it shows them that you value their opinion and expertise. This feeling of mutual trust will naturally improve your working relationship and help you to get work done more efficiently.

Be Positive

You don’t have to be the boss to help create a positive working environment for employees. You can contribute to each employee’s greatness by being a positive and motivating force at work. As well as being encouraging and friendly when you are in direct conversation with your colleagues, endeavour to speak positively about them to other people.

For example, when talking to your boss, provide quality feedback about the people you work with. This information will often get shared around the workplace (whether negative or positive). If you do this regularly, your coworkers will value you as their colleague, and your boss will also see that you are a team player.

This Guest Post was contributed by Allison Hail. If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

Author’s bio:

Before pursuing her passion for writing, Allison Hail worked in the corporate world for several years. Based on her experience, a great working relationship is essential to success – proven correct through her many collaborations with various sites, blogs, and businesses such as Sea Containers. You can view more of Allison’s work on her Tumblr page.

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The Army Ant – It’s Not About The Size, But Being A Team Player!

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 6, 2015 in Self Improvement

Army AntWhile singing the praises about the dominant creatures in the jungle, we often forget the ones who are timid, but portray equally significant characteristics. The dynamics are such that each member, be it big or small have their own role to play. Don’t you sense an analogy here?

Likewise, the workplace too has its own dynamics. Every employee has a definite role to play with an indispensable need to work in a team. We often wonder that how can two completely different job roles be intertwined!

Well, a machine never works without each component functioning in the most synchronized way, right?

To proliferate further consider an army ant. It might seem small, but you would never see one moving alone. There’s always a group of them, either carrying granules of food or simply one of their own when injured. In simple words, it exemplifies the importance of team work, something which can be well applied at the workplace. For it helps you to stay motivated at workplace, the discussion to follow will build on the same line of thought and suggest some ways to be a team player at work.

Don’t Ignore Delegation

A team that works in cohesion, always knows the strengths and weaknesses of each member, much like the army ants. They always have roles assigned to lead the lot, carry food and look after the route to be taken. This way synchronization is never compromised on and every task is accomplished in the most efficient way possible. Likewise, at work you need to divide assignments and project responsibilities according to the proficiency level of each member. This way the work load on each member can be minimized and objectives can be achieved within a smaller time frame.

Take Ideas From Every Member into Account

You’ll never see a group of ants having members being treated unequally, may be that’s the reason for the impeccable team work they put on display.

Similarly, at workplace for a sense of equality to be inculcated, there is a need to respect every opinion that’s voiced, because you never know what idea might just click right and solve a problem. No employee would want to work in the same team as yours, if you don’t take everybody’s viewpoint into account. The need of the hour is for you to create an environment, where each of your co-workers is comfortable suggesting different solutions and ideas.

Be a Pro-active Participant

Seldom are the chances that you’ll see an army ant resting in a shade, being least considerate about its lot. Well, there’s immense you can learn from the same. To be a good team player, you need to be pro-actively involved in what’s going on with your co-workers and friends at work. Come prepared for all team meetings and instead of watching things passively, give valuable inputs.

Team members holding this feature always take an extra step to make things happen efficiently. Be it volunteering for assignments or extending a helping hand to your colleagues, there’s so much you can do.

Adapt To Your Surroundings

An essential quality that is direly required to be a team player is being adaptable in different work environments. Ants make their shelters in deep lying places, cool enough to sustain themselves. But, as soon as it gets uprooted, they quickly move out with speed and bore a new hole in the vicinity. That’s exactly how you can be a team player.

In the modern corporate environment, people join and people leave. Plus, with the increased amount of diversity at workplaces, being adaptable is something that can really set you on the right track!

It’s amusingly beautiful how you can learn so much from a creature as small as an Army Ant. However, the glance alone wouldn’t work. Putting the aforementioned into application is what that’s required at present.

This Guest Post was contributed by Anshuman Kukreti. Anshuman is a professional writer and a keen follower of the global job market. An engineer by qualification and an artist at heart, he writes on various topics related to employment across the globe. Reach him @ LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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The Expedition – Trust In The Jungle

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jun 26, 2015 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement

ExpeditionOur office has recently seen many individuals make significant employment changes from one large company to another; leaving behind the teams they built over the last 5-10 years for the unfamiliar terrain of a new executive position filled with fresh faces to groom and lead. The conversations about how the new role is going seem to center around a common theme – the first priority of building a new team that they can trust. This begs the examination of what is really the definition of trust.

Webster’s Dictionary says, trust is the “belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective.” Wikipedia offers a social definition as when the “trustor” is willing to rely on the actions of another party (“trustee”).

It takes time for people to build credibility with each other. You must exemplify trustworthiness in order to receive it from your team and build your own trust in them. Consider these 5 tips for making a daily effort towards building your leadership trustworthiness offered by Jennifer Miller from SMARTBLOGS:

  • Get to know people’s minds and hearts.
  • Keep promises.
  • Maintain confidences.
  • Ask, “How are you doing?” Then shut up and listen.
  • Back your people up.

Jennifer stresses as her first point that building and promoting your team’s skills is not enough, you also need to understand their motivations. Recognize the underlying influences that drive your team beyond the technical so that you can better position them for success in the group, and in their career path. This will solidify your team’s confidence in your abilities as a leader. Ask your team members what gets them to work in the morning beyond salary and social aspects.

Equally important is keeping your promises, both positive and negative. Creating a track record of consistency will allow you to ask the same of your team. Nothing erodes trust in a leader faster than broken promises and false hope. Be especially careful about assurances that could be undone because of a lack of information or support from senior leadership. It will be viewed by your team as a significant weak point in any future promises you make no matter how much they trust you.

Get to know your team and their individual personalities to maintain confidences. Your team’s observance on how you treat privileged information about them builds, or destroys, a foundation of trust in what they are willing to share about themselves to you. This can extend to simple praise and criticism where one employee may not mind being corrected or complimented in public and another may prefer to receive any feedback in private.

In this age of technological progress where communication is faster than ever, people seem to have less and less time to truly listen. This is especially true the further you are in your career. Asking how someone is doing and then being able to take the time to truly listen to the response is very rare. Schedule time on your calendar for members of your team to discuss ideas and concerns with you to avoid only half listening while writing an email or having to cut them off to rush to a meeting. Making yourself available to be able to respond with your whole attention will help you develop a deeper relationship with your team.

To err is human and to pass the blame is the mark of a team’s shaky confidence in its leader. If the team makes a mistake, correcting that mistake in the work product should take precedence over whose individual fault it is. If the fault is yours, own it. Even if your only mistake was not catching the error before the project was submitted. When your team is comfortable knowing they won’t have to waste time and energy constantly covering their own rears at the expense of the team’s cohesion, they will be able to get back to business more quickly after a minor slip-up. A single team member can be coached in private if they are the source of reoccurring issues.

Trust must be built over months and years but it can be shattered in an instant. Maintaining trust requires continual investment in the leader-employee relationship. Show your trustworthiness by getting to know your team personally to position them for success, keeping your promises, maintaining confidence, and really listening to and backing your group is the fastest way to develop a team that you will be able to trust. In the wild Job Search Jungle, your team may be your only hope for survival so make sure the trust you build can get you through any obstacle.

(http://smartblogs.com/leadership/2015/03/10/building-trust-its-not-a-one-and-done-deal/)

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The Fertilized Soil – Putting “Power” Back In Empowerment

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Aug 13, 2012 in Building Confidence, Thinking Positive

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As busy professionals looking to move our practices and careers ahead, we can lose sight of how important empowering others around us can contribute to our own success.  Sometimes, we view training someone on a task or area of technical expertise as a time consuming activity when ultimately it can be a timesaving investment if we give that person responsibility for something that we don’t necessarily have to do ourselves and empower them in the process.

In the planting technique known as “companion planting”, three complimentary crops are planted close together in a cluster which fertilizes the soil and helps the plants grow stronger. For instance, grouping corn, beans, and squash is the traditional planting method of certain Native American groups. The corn acts a natural pole for bean vines to climb, while the beans add nitrogen to the soil improving the fertility of the plot. Bean vines can also help stabilize the corn stalks which keep them from blowing over in strong wind. Squash acts as a living mulch that provides shade to emerging weeds and helps to retain soil moisture. The prickly squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans. The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season, to build up the organic matter and improve its structure. The plants, in effect, empower each other to grow.

In the traditional situational leadership model developed by Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard, empowerment is used as a cooperative form of personal power as compared to competitive or self-protective power. It is also proactive, positive, and constructive. An effective leader should actively seek to increase the readiness level or capabilities of those around them and within the groups they are leading.

Empowerment is the power to accomplish your own goals, or helping others achieve theirs, through the process of group potency, meaningfulness, autonomy and impact.

Groups, as a whole, profit from their members gaining the ability to succeed together and be effective as a team. The team also needs to have the perception that the tasks they perform are necessary and valuable, not menial and trite. For a group to accomplish their goals, independence allows members to voice ideas and opinions that will aid in the ultimate success of a task. Autonomy does not imply that you abandon supervision entirely, but that such supervision is not constraining to the group. Finally, the thoughts and reflections of outside individuals on the group and its accomplishments are also significant and if sentiments of the group and its work are not positive, this will eventually duplicate in the minds of the members and can withdraw empowerment.

Business owners and leaders have often withheld empowerment because they have concerns about employees having the confidence and skill to leave and take the business with them. The question becomes, if those people felt empowered by their leaders, would they leave in the first place? People need to learn and grow, no matter their job title or level. Empowering someone could take the form of transitioning a simple activity like a weekly or monthly report from your workload giving the employee responsibility and accountability for that action. Or, it could be something more daunting like turning over a portion of client service on a large account. No matter what specific tasks you choose to relinquish, helping someone else learn and grow in their current position will help your practice learn and grow over time.

What steps can you take this week to empower someone around you, fertilizing the soil, which will ultimately increase your own productivity and personal success?

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The Freeze – Perspective and Expectation

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jan 5, 2012 in Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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It’s 60 degrees today in Miami, Florida.  People are shivering in the streets wearing seldom-used fur coats and heavy winter boots.  In the winter months in Florida, it is generally accepted that it will still be summer-like temperatures compared to the northern states. Today, on the 3rd of January, Floridians consider it to be freezing. 

In Virginia, it is floating around a true freezing temperature of 30 degrees and people are probably wearing the same winter clothing that the Floridians have donned at double the temperature. If it was 60 degrees today in Virginia, people would be driving with the tops down on their convertibles, playing golf in shorts, and wearing light sweaters thrilled about such warm weather in winter.

Your perception, how you view situations and circumstances, is based on your experience combined with your expectations. If your experience tells you that it should be 70 degrees in Florida all winter, having the reality be 10 degrees cooler than your expectation will cause you to feel colder than you would if you had been expecting cooler weather. In Virginia, if you expect it to be below freezing and 3 feet deep in snow, a cloudless sky and twice the anticipated temperature will have you perceiving it to be quite a “warm” day!

Consider your relationships with regard to your experience and expectation:

As a manager, do you expect your employees to rush to meet your stated objectives so your group can grow as a whole? According to your experience, have you empowered them to do so or are there unforeseen barriers to their success that you would be able to anticipate or circumvent?

As an employee, are you capitalizing on opportunities at your workplace to exceed your manager’s expectations and help your team to reach their annual goals?  Or, are you someone who is looking for areas where your manager should do more for you in your career and goals? 

These situations are based on your perspective. If you spend all of your productive time waiting on other people to meet your expectations, your life, and your career opportunities may pass you by. 

Please take a moment to share a positive example where your expectations were not being met, and how you took the initiative and the responsibility to improve the situation and facilitate efforts for the team rather than waiting on other people to meet your needs. 

Rather than simply wishing the weather were warmer, take out that fur coat and warm yourself up from the freeze!

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The Lioness or Tigress? – Woman in the Workplace

Posted by Carolyn Thompson on Jul 28, 2010 in Building Confidence, Self Improvement, Thinking Positive

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We’re called the fairer sex, but when it comes to the workplace, there are certainly no discriminations that favor the female of the species. You can count on looks for some jobs, but for the most part, it is talent and sheer tenacity that count. Look at the feminine aspect of the jungle, more specifically, the lioness and the tigress. Undoubtedly two of the most powerful creatures in the wild, these two females may belong to the same cat family, but they’re like chalk and cheese when it comes to their profession. So the question is – as a professional woman, are you a lioness or a tigress? How do you know which species you are?

The lioness is brave, audacious and single-minded; she hunts down her prey with precision and skill; and her family means more to her than anything else. She is loyal to the point of docility, a trait that shows in how she waits for the lion to eat her kill first, after which she and the cubs eat their share. So if you’re a lioness, you’re very good at your job, extremely committed to your organization, determined to be the best at what you do, and willing to go to any lengths to achieve your company’s goals. But on the downside, you don’t stake claim to your victories; rather, you allow your boss or immediate supervisor to garner the glory while you’re happy with the scraps they throw you. You don’t like the limelight, even when you know that you deserve to be in it. And you don’t mind staying in the shadow all your life, even though deep down you long for your place in the sun.

The tigress on the other hand is a beast that prefers solitude. While she’s protective of her cubs and willing to share her kill with them and the father, she does not take too kindly to other tigers from intruding on her turf. She is neither dependant on the tiger nor subservient to him. She decides if she wants to let him share the kill or not. So if you have a tigress in you, you’re a team player even as you still retain your individuality. You don’t brook any nonsense, from your coworkers or your superiors. You demand acknowledgement for your achievements, and you know that you can do anything as well as the male of the species, even though you’re smaller in size.

So now tell me, would you prefer to be a lioness or a tigress? The answer is obvious – so if you’re a lioness, it’s time you started morphing into a tigress. It’s not that hard if you set your mind to it – the basic characteristics are all similar, it’s just your attitude that needs to change. All you need to do is to take pride in what you do and stand up for your own rights at your workplace; demand what you deserve, be your own person instead of being content to stand a few steps behind other people, and you’re well on the way to becoming a regular tigress.

This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topic of degree online. She welcomes your comments at her email id: anna.miller009 @gmail.com.

If you have a great idea for a jungle-themed post, let us know! Guest writers or requests are always welcome!

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