No man is an island. This is undoubtedly true as we carefully traverse the land of challenging tasks, impossible bosses, and office politics while building our career. It’s so much simpler to keep to ourselves and merely buried our heads in work, but that’s no way to live. Surprisingly, experts have found having friends at work not only bring you joy and a temporary reprieve from the drudgery that is of work, but it can also help build your career. Meet the 3 work friends you should cultivate below.
This is a fairly easy friendship to cultivate. Find yourself someone who’s also new at work or share a similar title with you. This friend will offer you a listening ear as you rant, and cheer you on accomplishments no matter how small. This friend provides support and doesn’t judge, so you are free to confide. However, you do need to find someone who’s sincere and not competitive. Most importantly, you need someone you can trust and know that whatever you say to him or her in confidence will not leak out into the office grapevine.
You shouldn’t limit your friendships to your newbie buddies or only people who have similar roles or roughly your age. Adunola Adeshola, writer for FastCompany.com, says it’s a good idea to cultivate friendship with someone in the middle of the totem pole who isn’t your manager. Find someone who has some experience in his or her belt but doesn’t oversee your work and preferably has no conflict of interest to your team or your manager.
This way, you can freely ask for constructive feedback without feeling the burn since that person isn’t your reporting manager. It doesn’t matter if the mid-level mentor isn’t in your field because they can help improve your soft skill that grows more important as you progress in your career. It would be great if you can find two mentors – one who has the technical know-how of your role and another one as your general mentor where you can go to for any work advice. Both types of relationships are valuable because one can help you focus on work ethics while the other focus on developing your presence as a leader.
Voice from above
Many know that befriending a senior manager or others in the upper management is beneficial but it’s not an easy friendship to cultivate. For one, you don’t even get to meet and spend time with the seniors. However, do bear in mind that wanting to cultivate a friendship with a senior isn’t exactly asking for the moon either. The best way to go about this is then to observe and pay attention if anyone inspires you.
If you spot a role model then keep an eye on the person’s personality as well as progress in the company. If you still feel that the person is an inspiration and you would like to emulate that success, then you can try approaching the individual. You can be quite frank and tell the person that you are looking for a mentor and specify the attributes you admire in the person. It could be that you were impressed by the individual’s presentation skills and you would like to get some tips on how you can improve your skill. Ask if that person is willing to spend some time with you to go through some questions you have in mind.
The seniors are probably busy so use your time with this individual wisely. Cultivating friendship or mentorship with the ‘higher ups’ can be beneficial in many ways. They might end up being your advocate in rooms you don’t yet have access to that might open up doors of opportunities. Aside from that, they can also act as an influential reference if you decide to leave the company in the future.
Monica Leong is a storyteller at heart. Graduated with a Journalism and Public Relations degree, she is currently working in corporate communications and also contributes as a freelance writer and editor. Before entering the corporate world, she worked in female lifestyle magazines such as Marie Claire, CLEO, and PEARL as an editor and a features writer. Monica is passionate about writing and working on a short story and flash fiction anthology.