Warning: part of this post may bring up unpleasant thoughts of gore. Ignore them, and enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings you get as you remember some of the best relationships you’ve formed in times of adversity at work.
Do you need to wait to block off time for an “off site” or a “team lunch” to spend time developing relationships with your team? Don’t wait!
When I first stepped out of college with a degree in biology, I was hired by a large pharmaceutical company to do research in a laboratory. This laboratory was screening for anti-atherosclerosis drugs in quail (this bird mimics human atherosclerosis development closely). However, I was brought in to do solo research to screen for anti-obesity drugs in laboratory rats. Much of the time I worked on my own.
Work Can be Lonely
I am an extrovert who gets her energy through interaction with people (not rats). Although I shared an office with the Ph.D. who ran the laboratory, he was an introvert who preferred to stick to himself most of the time. The solo work left me hungry for human contact.
Little did I know that I would enjoy the human contact on Quail Tuesdays as much as I did. Our laboratory and the one next door would gather first thing that morning to collect blood and dissect arteries in quail (yes, birds!) who had been on a high-cholesterol diet and dosed with drugs that might eventually combat atherosclerosis in humans. This was unpleasant work at best for a biologist who is also an animal lover. I may have been just as happy to sit Tuesdays out.
However, the unpleasant activity of dissecting quail provided the chance to sit around a table with the other biologists and have casual conversations. The work was routine, but requiring many hands to get it done, so we were able to talk and learn about each other while we worked.
The science of our work was also a topic, making Quail Tuesdays a team learning activity. I learned to love Quail Day and couldn’t wait to get to work on Tuesdays for the opportunity to learn about my colleagues as well as to learn what they knew about the science of atherosclerosis!
Developing Relationships Helps with the Work
If it weren’t for Quail Tuesdays, I wouldn’t have known the people I was working side by side on a personal level. Those days also provided us with an important connection to the work and what it could eventually mean to thousands if we discovered THE drug (we didn’t, but it was a great dream that we often discussed).
Intuitively, I knew that Quail Tuesdays were important to the overall productivity of our laboratory. Interpersonal connections are similarly important to any organization’s productivity.
In these times when your staff may be working harder and longer, good relationships and connections can make the work easier. Conversations are a part of what makes work life enjoyable and productive. What are you doing to foster great relationships in your workplace? What could you be doing that could be done together as a team, allowing time for the relationships to develop?