Throughout my career I’ve been trained to do my job with a focus on meeting client needs. Yet I was never taught to consider my colleagues or to understand what would best support them. It seems strange now when I reflect back on this. Why was I paying more care and attention to the needs of individuals who I may only meet on the odd occasion than to the people with whom I spent most of my days?
Every time I started a new job, I would spend time poring over the documents that would help me deliver my role. In addition, I would often be tasked with reading annual reports, internal magazines, and email communications to understand what the company did. I would be introduced briefly to my team, maybe even attend a team lunch. Then more often than not, I would gain insight to what I needed to achieve from my manager or through handover notes. And off I went ready to deliver what the company needed.
Working in HR, many of my clients were internal. Part of my induction process would be to meet these individuals to understand their needs. The expectation was that I would now be able to build relationships with them, gain the knowledge required to meet their needs, and be able to operate effectively when delivering my role. Yet, when I returned to my desk, and began working through my endless task list, I didn’t know the people around me. Having worked a number of stand-alone roles, this was incredibly isolating. The irony of the description doesn’t escape me now, although it did for many years.
This isolation can be challenging for anyone. For me, not only did I feel that no one cared about me, I felt the burden of what I needed to achieve was mine alone. That I had no support, guidance, or interest from those around me. This may not have been true, however, the feeling was real and shouldn’t be disregarded. It is this feeling that formed the foundation of my engagement at work. It’s incredibly difficult to remain engaged when you have limited connection to those around you.
For me, I believe it is important to meet the needs of our colleagues. I would argue that if I’d had a connection to those around me, they would have provided another dimension to my work life through conversation and relationships. They may have also noticed and responded when I was struggling to deliver or when I began to nosedive emotionally. I’m not suggesting it is their responsibility to do my work or to make me happy. However, I am saying their involvement would have made everything seem better and more within my grasp.
Let’s look at this from another perspective. I expect we would have also been more proactive in communicating our strategies and approach. We would also have been more considerate of their impact each other’s work. This would have allowed for a greater flow of information and I expect smoother delivery to our clients.
In essence, what I’m trying to convey is by placing greater importance on meeting the needs of our colleagues, I honestly believe our clients will gain better outcomes. By connecting and engaging with our colleagues we will have more enjoyable work environments. Places we enjoy being, not locations we can’t wait to escape. Our productivity, creativity, and general well-being would increase. I’m not seeing a negative here, so I’m going to stop looking for one. Instead I’m going to commit to my colleagues in the same way I commit to my clients.