Do You Have A Friend?

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23-08-2014

6 min read

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Friendships at work increase your productivity and output

Iron Man Tony Stark, Dr. Bruce Banner aka the Incredible Hulk, Haweye, Black Widow and Captain America were great superheroes fighting battles alone. Then they were brought together by Nick Fury to save the world from the evil Loki. Thus, begins the movie “Avengers.” As we watch the movie, we see a bunch of ineffective, bickering super-heroes with super egos suddenly transform into a high performing team. How did this transformation happen?

If you re-watch the movie (as I have) and watch how each of them interact with each other, you realise that the turning point of their success comes when they stop focusing on themselves but actually become friends with each other. The more time they spent with each other and as their friendship grew, the more effective they became. As the friendship deepened, the Avengers started realising how important each other person was and took notice of each other’s strength.

In life (and in Avengers!), no one can do it alone. Truth is, no one can live without relationships. In our deepest beings we know we are created to be in relationships with others. Somehow God created us with a longing for things we can’t possibly achieve alone.

Friendship is what made the Avengers tick. Its always what makes great businesses tick. Sony was started by the strong friendship between Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka. Intel’s roots stem from the friendship of Andy Groove, Gordon Moore and Bob Noyce. Even Apple’s creation stems from the friendship between Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Deep friendships enable lasting partnerships in business.

New research backs my claims. According to research by the Gallup Organisation, personal friendships at work can increase satisfaction by as much as 50%. The Gallup’s study entitled “Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford To Live Without,” highlighted that people with three friends at work were 46% more likely to be extremely satisfied with their jobs and 88% more likely to be satisfied with their lives, as well as having fewer work-related accidents and being more engaged with customers.

In fact, Gallup’s Q-12 employee engagement benchmark survey includes the question, ‘Do I have a best friend at work?’ as one of the indicators of greater engagement in the workplace. Having a best friend at work is linked to higher organisational productivity, profit, employee retention, increases motivation and customer satisfaction.

Another comprehensive study of friendships by researcher Gabriella Conti concluded that your earnings are likely to be 2% higher as an adult for each person who considered you a close friend in high school. This means that if five people listed you as one of their three closest same-sex friends, your bump in wages would be 10%. Friendship apparently has a direct impact to your salary too.

Donald Trump is Wrong!

One Christmas, I was given a Donald Trump book as a gift. As I opened the book, immediately there was mention of Trump’s famous reality TV series The Apprentice. In almost every episode of the Apprentice, you see these top business people who are fighting for corporate glory, use a common phrase–“I’m not here to make friends! It’s nothing personal.”

Friendship is an area that most business leaders feel is taboo to business success. They have got it completely wrong (yes, including Donald Trump). The best businesses have teams with strong bonds of friendship, with each member willing to “die for the cause” and the team.

What Donald Trump and many other business leaders don’t realise is that a key reason why most business teams fail is due to low level of trust. Trust deepens as you become friends with your colleagues at work. And this is done through true heart-to heart connection and friendship.

In the Avengers movie, friendship amongst the Avengers finally developed into trust for each other. They even started catching each other as they fell from buildings and trusting each other to lead and execute. Great teams thrive because each person plays their roles yet occasionally helps cover gaps left when one of the team members fails. However, if we are not friends with each other in our team, we are unlikely to ‘catch’ another when they fall. Worst still if there is hatred amongst colleagues in the organisation, people would be ‘happy’ to see another colleague fall as this may clear the way for their personal success

Live longer

Most amazingly, friendships at work can extend your life (yes, you read that right!). Researchers from Tel Aviv University reported that those who enjoyed good friendships at work had a significantly lower risk of dying from any cause. People with the most supportive peer relationships “at work” had lower rates of mortality, and the effect held over the entire 20-year period of the study. Another study from Flinders University found those with a strong network of peers outlived those with the least friends by 22 percent. Surprisingly, family relationships seemed to have no bearing at all on mortality. Yet another study found people with the best social networks had an astounding 50 percent lower risk of dying than those with limited social ties.

The terrible boss, by the way, does not contribute to early death, according to research. While having supportive peers made a big difference to lifespan, having a supportive boss made none.

Friendship retreats, anyone?

Many companies spend a lot of money on employee engagement initiatives. How many of these initiatives include strategies to facilitate the development and sustenance of friendships among employees? Friendship matters and is critical.

Friends are the ones who know you as you are, understand where you have been, accept who you have become, and still encourage you to grow.  Isn’t this the essence of employee engagement and leadership? Being accepted and encouraged and pushing each other to grow and fulfil our potential is the dream of most business leaders. So, why not create means to enhance friendships at work?

One of the ways to start this off is by offering retreats where employees can bond together. At Leaderonomics, we work hard to ensure we constantly have opportunities where friendship can be deepened in the workplace.

Ways to Increase Friendship

Here are my top 10 ways to increase friendship in your organisation:

1. Reach out first – take the first step to initiate friendship. Don’t wait for others to connect with you.

2. Don’t judge – friends can come in any form. Don’t let appearances or reputation influence you.

3. Schedule time for friendship at work – just set up some time to get to know people at work and nurture your friendships

4. Ensure focused attention when you’re with friends at work – learn to listen and truly listen

5. Learn to love people – genuine friendship begins with love and caring

6. Learn to love yourself – when you dislike yourself, people will sense it and likewise react to you as you do to yourself

7. Be the friend you like to have – you get as much as you put in to your friendships

8. Be honest with your friends – without honesty there is no friendship

9. Stay in touch whenever possible – if you travel constantly, lack of presence could jeopardise friendships. Find ways to stay in touch.

10. Gestures of kindness – occasionally shower your friends with small gifts, notes of encouragement and small gestures of thoughtfulness

Final thoughts

According to many geneticists, we should all be friends as we are all literally family anyway. According to geneticists, each of us alive today would have more than 1.1 million relatives living in AD 1066 when the population of the world was merely 200 million. This means that for any two people alive today to be related by a common ancestor a thousand years ago is roughly one in two hundred. This means, we are all part of the same family anyway. So, building friendships at work may not seem an issue after all. We can literally assume we are just building friendship amongst lost ‘relatives’. Remember, if you’re looking for a job, you better have friends. The number-one way people find new jobs is referrals by friends.

The work place is where we spend most of our waking hours, making the importance and value of friendship in the work place of paramount importance. So, for 2013, lets strive to build deep friendships with our co-workers and employees. It could mean the difference between success and issues in your business.

 

(Photo source: Corey Balazowich)
Roshan Thiran is CEO of Leaderonomics, a unique social enterprisefocused on inspiring people to leadership greatness. For great teambuilding programmes to enhance friendships and trust in your organisation, email people@leaderonomics.com.

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