Personal Development in the Workplace

Workplace socializing is inevitable and many companies have acknowledged the importance a harmonious work environment has on productivity. This is why there are company parties and outings; some even hold personal development and growth seminars to ensure that employees are on an even keel with each other. This is one way personal and interpersonal development can be achieved in the workplace. However, there are some rules that govern workplace friendships that should be observed to ensure that unbecoming situations are avoided.

Keep it friendly but work comes first. Workplace friendships are a boon for productivity, because it is easier to work when co-workers like each other, and the tendency is for people to be supportive of each other. It enhances teamwork. However, when people get too chummy, keeping your priorities straight can be a problem. Some information might be obtained that has a direct effect on the company and because of friendship, is kept secret. This could be that the other person was leaking information to a rival company. Remember that workplace relationships are inherently temporary, and the loyalty of the employee should be first to the company. Observe the rules of the company on workplace relationships. Friendships can lead to a closer relationship, maybe even marriage. Find out from the employee handbook the restrictions regarding this. Some companies have a policy that co-employees cannot get married and still continue to work in the same place. Someone will have to leave the company. This should be considered before taking the plunge.

Familiarity breeds contempt. This can be true when co-workers get too intimate. Shared secrets may become inadvertently leaked and soon people are talking about you behind your back. Or someone gets drunk at the bar you all go to after work and says some unforgivable things. This can create a hostile environment and enough tension and friction in the workplace could lead to loss in productivity. Be careful about friendships with the higher ups. It may seem unduly prissy, but being friendly with the boss can be dangerous. First of all, everybody will think you are trying to curry favor, and this can create horizontal hostility among your co-workers. That is, unless your boss is like Mother Theresa whom everybody has to love. Secondly, it can backfire on you when your boss cannot recommend you for promotion for fear of being accused of favoritism. A third problem could be when the boss is of the opposite sex and wants more than friendship, and you do not. At the very least this can lead to you being made uncomfortable at work and at the very worst getting fired. Anything in between would not be much better.

Family should come first. Many people spend most of their waking hours at work, so inevitably that means time spent away from your family. The daily after-office get-together at the bar or the weekly golf game means even more time from the family. This is not so crucial if you are single, but if you are married, this could have bad consequences. Your spouse begins to feel neglected and taken for granted; your children are growing up strangers. Keep the socializing to an occasional beer and the odd birthday party. Bring your family to company outings when possible to keep them in the loop.

Most friendships made in the office are temporary, dependent on how long you stay at the company or even in the same department. Most people choose financial security over office friendships so if you think people will stick up for you against the boss, think again. Keep in mind that while workplace relationships are important, you are there to work and that can change pretty quickly if you are not circumspect. Remember also to keep your priorities straight so you keep both your job and your family.

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