You’ve made it to the top–congratulations. Your years of hard work, late nights, and sacrifices have paid off, and now you’re at the top of your corporate food chain. But is it us, or does it sometimes feel a little bit like an echo chamber way up on high? You might not miss the busywork and second-rate projects, but you are missing out big time if you don’t foster excellent relationships with the folks who are now where you were ten years ago.
The most successful businesses fully leverage the intelligence and know-how of all of their employees, not just those at the top. But in big corporations, most of the vital decisions are made by only a fraction of the employees. Not only does this deprive your organization of its full resources, but it can lead to unilateral thinking that will keep you stuck in place rather than moving forward. Junior employees have a lot to learn from you, but you also have a lot to learn from them. Although you are the resident expert and have the final say on every business decision you make, your juniors may have valuable input that could surprise you.
If you look at today’s startups, you’ll see that they way senior staff interfaces with newbies is changing. Gone are the hierarchies, processes, and sometimes even office doors that separate one level of employee from the next. In tech, innovation is the name of the game—and what better way to foster innovation than by listening to fresh ideas? You don’t have to work somewhere with a “flat hierarchy” to reap the benefits of interfacing with juniors, since some companies are better suited towards this than others. What do you have to do? Simply start talking!
When you speak face-to-face with a new or lower-level employee, two things happen immediately:
- You contribute towards a company culture where people feel comfortable talking to anyone and everyone, allowing for cross-pollination of ideas.
- You begin to build a relationship that could benefit you down the road.
It’s needless to say that the more positive relationships you foster at work, the better. You don’t have to become somebody’s formal mentor to make a difference in his or her life. Sharing your expertise and listening to the struggles and experiences of your juniors will make both of you better at your jobs. Plus, the person who is your junior today could end up being part of your team in just a few years. The better working relationship you develop now, the easier it will be to continue working together down the road.
How can you start to reach out to new or junior employees?
Start a club. Whether it’s learning a new coding language or simply a book club, a regular organization that all staff is invited to become part of is a smart, practical way to socialize and exchange ideas.
Put in face time. Nobody needs more email–instead, try walking over to your junior employee and discussing the matter at hand in person.
Encourage family events. Try holding monthly family potlucks or a “family day” at the office to make your work environment a little more personal, and to get to know your coworkers that much better.
Create a company project. Some companies start gardens, volunteering projects, or even microbreweries to help employees bond. It doesn’t take much–what ongoing project could benefit your company and help improve your company culture?
Don’t go straight home after work. It’s tempting to head straight for your car after work, but that immediately erases any possibility of socializing after-hours with your colleagues. A good, old-fashioned drink or coffee after work is a classic, foolproof way to get to know coworker better.
Stephen Van Vreede is not your average IT/technical résumé writer. He provides career strategy and concierge job search solutions for senior (15+ years) (ITtechExec) and up-and-coming (NoddlePlace) (5-15 years) tech and technical operations leaders. Stephen and his team focus on building simplified, targeted, and certain career move campaigns, be it an external search or an internal promotion. He is co-author of UNcommon with career development leader Brian Tracy (out June 11, 2015). Contact Stephen directly at Stephen@ittechexec.com or send him an invite at https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephenvanvreede. To see whether Stephen and his team are a good fit for you, take their free (and anonymous) 1-minute compatibility quiz, Is the ITtechExec Approach a Good Match for You? Also, feel free to take his complimentary resume self-assessment quiz, How Certain Can You Be About Your Technical Resume? You might be surprised by what you find out!