Top 10 Friends Everyone Should Make At Work
Let’s just put it out there: co-workers are not your besties. The problem is we spend so much more time at work than with our real friends that it can get confusing.
Granted some co-workers are definitely eligible to be friends over time. But remember, for the most part, they want something from you: support, time, or money. The workplace is a group of people who have been selected (and are paid) to fulfill a company objective – typically profit.
Climbing the corporate ladder is also called the rat race for a reason.
“You want to know what scares people? Success. When you don’t make moves and when you don’t climb up the ladder, everybody loves you because you’re not competition.”
– Nikki Minaj
Your best defense is teamwork. Think of co-workers as your 9-to-5 team. You probably won’t hang out with them after the season is over, but it’s important to get along during practice and game time. So choose wisely.
Picking a team full of line backers or quarterbacks is not a winning formula. The same applies to choosing who you “network” with at work. It’s easy and natural to hang out with people just like you, everybody does it. The rub is you probably won’t learn anything new.
Challenge yourself to hang out with people not like yourself. Be curious. Scientists have known for a long time that diversity brings forth new wholes. It just takes a simple hello to test it for yourself.
“So many people unseen, unheard — they need to be heard into speech.”
Here are our fantasy picks:
10. The Lobbyist
No, this is not your lawyer friend trying to keep his bitcoin investment in the money. These are the unsung heroes that keep the building safe and sound: security guards, doormen, and receptionists.
Keith runs the morning shift here at 335 Madison. He checks people in and prints out guest passes in the building’s main lobby. It is a demanding job especially when somebody is late, forgot their building ID, or cannot find their driver’s license.
Knowing these hard-working people by name is a gift. It saves you time in case any of the above happens to you and ensures at least one person will smile at you every day.
9. The Boss
This goes without saying. Of course your life will be much easier if your boss likes you. This starts with doing great work and making their life easier. Once that trust is built up, use idle conversation to learn more about them: how was your weekend, do you have any vacations planned, or have you seen any movies lately.
Any answer will give you insight into who they are and perhaps challenge who you think they are. Just be prepared to answer the same question when they go, “What about you?”
8. The Dealer
There is usually a SWAT team of ex-investment bankers that work on the corporate level. Sometimes the department is called Corporate Development or M&A (Mergers & Acquisitions). If you ever get a chance to meet anybody on this team, ask them out for coffee.
They are usually a wealth of information and can provide a 50,000 foot perspective that will help you do your job better. And vice versa. Note the secret desire of most people in this department is to move into operations or the “real” business. The grass is always greener.
7. The Fixer
Never discount the value of knowing someone in the IT department. While a lot of corporations are offshoring the tech help line, there is always local staff to help with replacing computers, upgrading hardware, and general audio visual support.
Being on a first-name basis with these people can pay dividends when you need special access to a network or having a meltdown when the system crashes (didn’t you backup?).
6. The Creative
This type often lurks in marketing. They are important people to know because they are the caretakers of the company’s brand. And where it’s going. Selfishly, you will carry that brand on your resume for years to come so it behooves you to know that it is strong enough to exist.
5. The Maker
In the tech world, this can be product or engineering. In entertainment, this can be production. And most other companies, it is simply called operations. Being close to the how the company actually functions gives you the advantage of knowing how things really get done…who you need to wait for, what takes a long time, and how to pull strings in an emergency.
This doesn’t mean angling to be friends with the COO. Frankly, in most cases, it’s better if it’s not. The modest person working on the ground floor will often know a lot more than the executives.
4. The Schmoozer
As an introvert, I had a tendency to shy away from sales people early in my career. No more. Sales people are the heart of the organization. Their work keeps the lights on. Having a few confidantes in this area can provide valuable information about what’s selling, what’s not, and – most importantly – why.
The role tends to attract positive, highly driven, and goal oriented characters. Today they are some of my favorite people. And hope that their good energy rubs off.
3. The Bean Counter
Ah, finance. It’s a thankless job to chase around numbers, update budgets, and tell people they have no money left for that amazing campaign. This often leaves this department disconnected. I knew a finance group that had to organize their own happy hours because they were never invited to anybody else’s. It’s not easy being green.
At the same time, getting to know them can really pay off (literally). Finance people know accounting tricks that could make your head spin, but more importantly fund that future project.
They tend to be naturally budget-minded so you’re more likely to find them at the coffee station than Starbucks.
2. The Gatekeeper
You probably know this person already. This is your boss’s assistant or, in some organizations, the Chief of Staff. They tend to have bulletproof emotions because they see their job as to protect a powerful person. Suffice to say that this relationship will be a long game.
The key here is to take interest in their problems and show appreciation for their behind-the-scenes work. If they like you, they can “squeeze” 15 minutes into a busy executive’s schedule for you or even give you insight into their whereabouts.
1. The One
Finally, you must be friends with yourself. I have made the mistake of caring too much about my team, my project, and my boss more than myself. It is a surefire recipe for burnout. So remember to treat yourself like a precious object because it will make you stronger.
In the wise words of everybody’s friend:
“Take care of yourself and each other.”