How to Be a First-Rate Colleague to Your Co-Workers
It’s what you do for them when they need you most and don’t realize it.
It’s my career goal to be a first-rate employee to my colleagues. This goal came about after I met a guy in my previous job who was infectious to be around.
He was the busiest guy in the company and he wasn’t the CEO. Why was he busy? Everyone wanted to be around him. A few minutes with him made you feel better about your day.
You wanted to be around him and often you couldn’t explain why.
There was something about him. You couldn’t work it out unless you spent the time to analyze how he showed up to work. One afternoon I was bored and decided to note down everything about him. Here’s why he was a first-rate colleague to me.
Give away all the credit
He never took credit for anything. It was always somebody else’s brilliant idea even when it was clearly his own.
The amount of time he spent giving credit to everybody else blew my mind. It is as if by giving you the credit it gives you hope that you can be even better at your job than you currently are.
His belief in you made you try harder.
Thanks to him, I now give away all the credit. I don’t want the credit whatsoever. It’s way too much fun to see people take the credit you give them and see them explode in their careers. When others win, you win.
Listen to their story
He listens to your story by asking questions about your life. These are not sales questions; they’re genuine questions. He can’t help you with a product or service unless he knows a bit about your life and how you think.
People at work love telling stories about themselves, whereas he loves hearing your story.
Share what you know
There are no secrets. He will tell you whatever you want to know.
Ask him for his business secrets and he will give them to you. Ask him for an introduction to the most valuable person in his network and he won’t think twice about it.
There is nothing he won’t share because he believes he has enough in his career already.
Keep your colleagues in the loop
Chinese whispers and sharing critical business information behind the scenes to a select few is not something he subscribes to.
With every customer conversation, he keeps people in the loop. He shares updates with the account team, product suggestions with the product managers, and new business models with the senior leadership team. There isn’t a deal he works on that doesn’t have full transparency and collaboration at the center of it.
By keeping everybody in the loop, no one feels left out. You’d be surprised how much camaraderie that builds in a team environment.
Make light of areas they could improve
He once told me how bad I was at spreadsheets but in a light-hearted way. “I guess you can’t be good at everything,” he said, with a smile on his face and a cheeky wink of the eye.
I used this strategy with a former colleague that was always grumpy. He’d come to work and a lot of the time he was grumpy. When we got to know each other, I made light of his grumpiness. This led to us agreeing that we’d work on his grumpiness and it enhanced our work relationship because of the honesty.
It’s all about how you suggest people improve at work that determines whether they are willing to.
Remember their life events
Every time it was my birthday he would make a big deal of it. When I found a new girlfriend he celebrated the new romance in my life. And when a family member passed away he was right there beside me to mourn the loss.
Thinking about the way he reacts to the events in my life makes me emotional. It’s this reason, above all, that we will always be work colleagues even though we work at completely different companies.
When your colleagues feel like family, you know you’ve helped create something special.
Do random kind things
I was once late to a customer meeting. Everybody had ordered coffee and because I was late, there wasn’t one for me. In the middle of the conversation, he got up, walked over to the counter, and ordered me a coffee so that I wouldn’t be left out.
It’s such a small thing, but it showed that customer, and many others just like them, that he was a class act at work. Nobody got left behind. Everybody was important to him.
Be there when they need you (like when they’re redundant)
The day I found out the job I worked so hard for was gone, he was right there. He’s the guy that’s there exactly when you need him. Like Batman, when you’re in distress, he’s there to help you pick up the pieces.
He makes the phone call on your behalf. He helps you find a new job to replace the one you lost. He makes sure people don’t think you’re shit because you lost your job. He wears his heart on his sleeve. He tells you what it was like when he got fired from a high-power leadership role and had to downgrade his job title on his email signature.
Whether it’s unemployment or a romantic break up, he’s the person you can count on.
One small problem
So we got this far and you thought he was an angel sent from heaven. Not quite. One issue he’s still working on is not looking at his phone so much.
The quickest way he kills rapport with his colleagues is by looking at his phone too much. It’s not because he’s an asshole; it comes from a good place. He checks his phone because he genuinely wants to be good at his job and be responsive when his colleagues or customers need him.
It’s taken him a while to learn that it’s okay to switch off and be there for his family too when they need him. See, he’s a father too and his kids get to witness their dad’s ability to make anybody feel special without doing a helluva lot.
Any of us can be a class act at work when we put those we work with first and make them feel special.
It’s how you make people feel at work that they remember.