So-called “experts” often link employee engagement and low turnover to great bosses, company culture and employee benefits (duh), but they completely overlook the power of great coworkers. In my experience, it’s the people I’m surrounded by that make the difference. Those rock stars going through it with me, day in and day out, are the difference between an ok job and a great one. Or, in my case, the reason I’ve stayed at several companies for the long haul.
We’ve all had (and have definitely complained about) the negative, whiny, energy-sucking coworkers, but allow me a minute to acknowledge the really great ones. You know, the ones that push us, make us laugh, and go through the ups and downs with us as if they were an extension of our family. I’ve been blessed to have had them and hopefully you have too. Here’s my shout out to the great coworkers we know and love because, without them, it would just be work.
The Celebrator – No, not the disingenuous, over-the-top, ass-kissing, in-your-face ridiculous guy. The other guy. The first person you go to with the really great news because they’re happy for you. The one that offers a high five and genuinely wants to know how things are going. The positive light in the office that drives the team to get excited and stay engaged. They’re comfortable and confident with themselves in a way that allows them to actually applaud another human. The Celebrator is always the first to suggest happy hour for your promotion or arrange a potluck for your baby shower. Props to the Celebrators that make work fun and worth, well, celebrating.
The Brainstormer – It is likely that this person has a huge whiteboard in their office and loves to map-it-out with you. They’re the one who pulls up a chair and rolls up their sleeves to help you dive in and work out a problem. They whip out the markers and colorful sticky notes to get the ideas flowing. The Brainstormer is the curious one who is most excited and focused on finding solutions with you. This is one who is a true giver: a giver of their time, thoughts, and energy – all to make sure the team succeeds. They’re the one you call when sh*t hits the fan. Everyone needs a Brainstormer in the workplace. If you have one, go find them and give them a pat on the back. If you are one, come sit next to me!
The Entertainer – They’re quick with a joke, keep things light and can turn even the most mundane meeting into something that wasn’t too terrible. These are the coworkers you take your coffee break with or can’t wait to talk to about the latest episode of Game of Thrones (Winter is coming for real, y’all.). The best of them are also wicked smart and know how to make difficult conversations happen effortlessly. Thank goodness for these special people because they just make the day seem brighter!
The Master – This is your coworker that is intensely passionate and insanely driven. They don’t necessarily know that they’re the Master, but we all watch and learn from them every day. They give moving presentations, exceptional analyses, and know how to sell a room on amazing ideas. We are better for having worked alongside the Master. While they can sometimes be our greatest competition in the office, the Master always pushes us to improve and evolve into our best selves. Like the best teachers, working alongside this person motivates you to mastery yourself.
Your Work Bestie – Next to your S.O., this is the first person you call when there’s a company reorg, a promotion on the line, or (let’s be honest) some good gossip. They can talk you off a ledge, hand you a tissue, or tell you to get it together when you need it the most. We sometimes end up spending more time with our coworkers than our families, so it makes sense that we might form a close bond with a Bestie at work. This is the person who knows how you like your coffee and never forgets to organize a birthday lunch. They have been with you through thick and thin: from births and deaths, weddings and divorce, and everything in between. They have your back and share experiences with you in a way that makes you know you are understood. Even better, a Work Bestie can foster the interpersonal connection that makes us want to work even harder for the good of the team.
Whether you’re lucky enough to have them already or you’re evaluating your next career move, I hope you’ll take time to truly appreciate this very important aspect of company culture. Will your coworkers be in the trenches with you? Challenge you to work harder? Open your mind? Stop and have a laugh (or cry) with you? If you can say “YES”, that’s the culture that eats strategy for breakfast. That’s worth holding on tight to and, when times get tough, that’s the right crew to roll with. I can say from experience that it’s made all the difference in my career.
As I write this, I realize that I may be the exception and that not everyone has experienced these awesome coworkers for themselves. It’s one of the driving factors for Haven Collective. I dream of the day when my new coworking space will be filled with hundreds of amazing coworkers who push one another and celebrate together. Because, without an amazing team surrounding me (and you know who you are), all the years I’ve spent grinding away would’ve just felt like work.