A good friend of mine used to work for a large supermarket chain as a checkout attendant. It was his first job straight from college. It wasn’t his dream job but at least he was able to pay his bills.
One interesting aspect of the supermarket’s work environment was how the staff related to each other. The supervisors behaved like dictators who barked orders to their subordinates. The orders were to be followed and not questioned at all. Anyone who attempted to suggest a different way of doing a task would get into trouble. This bred contempt among the staff – and the supervisors were not popular.
Fast forward and a couple of years later; the company had to lay off some staff due to the huge losses they were making due to stiff competition and bad business decisions. My friend had already left the company much earlier, before it got into trouble.
He was then faced with a tricky situation when sitting on an interview panel where one of his former supervisors was being interviewed after being made redundant.
As you can imagine, the ex-supervisor didn’t get any further with his job application and my friend wonders to this day if his old boss realized why he failed, or if he carried on with his old-fashioned and out-dated attitude in the next job he did get.
Perhaps the ex-supervisor’s attitude came about because he was also bullied by his manager, but someone in the line needs the strength to stop it. It is very important that colleagues at work relate to each other cordially and with respect, their seniority not withstanding. It creates a more enjoyable working day with energy going into creating a positive environment rather than a negative one.
Most employers make an effort to help employees relate to each other well, by coming up with codes of conduct at the work place however, it is always better if everyone is willing to go the extra mile, allowing their colleagues to feel comfortable around them. When it’s possible and appropriate, achieving bonds and friendships that last beyond the assigned tasks can only enhance good relationships among employees to improve team work and enhance productivity.
There’s an old phrase used in the UK: Never kick anyone on your way up the ladder, because you never know who you might meet coming down it.
People now change jobs regularly and you never know who you’ll might be facing at the interview panel when you’re looking for your next job – and more than that – having a positive relationship with an ex-colleague could actually move you through the application process more successfully.
Also of importance is getting recommendations and referrals from colleagues – something you’re more likely to achieve from a colleague with whom you had a cordial relationship.
If you use LinkedIn, invite past and present colleagues to add their recommendations of you to your profile; they do get read by Hiring Managers.
Have you either been interviewed or had to interview an ex-colleague in unusual circumstances? What advice would you give to anyone who found building positive work relationships difficult?
Other Betts Blog posts of interest: