How do I improve my relationships with my teammates?

To improve relationships with your teammates: invest in learning about them at an individual level: what excites them, how they think about and measure success, and what challenges they face.

Your teammates are not just peers, they don't exist merely to perform on the job. They're individuals with hopes, dreams, fears, and ideas too. Some of their ideas can help you do your job, and some of your ideas may help unblock them.

Building a relationship around that framework

5 action items

  1. 1. Spend time together

    None of what is mentioned here is going to be possible in a single conversations. Building relationships takes time. Find ways to spend time together in order to uncover some of the tips mentioned elsewhere here: regular one-on-ones, get together after-hours, lunch or coffee breaks, or even asynchronous conversations via chat. The key to building any relationship is time: so make time.

  2. 2. Learn about how they measure success

    Working as a team means moving together toward a single goal, but often when teams are new or evolving, goals can become misaligned. To better align the team—and better understand how your teammate thinks and works—talk with them about what success means to them, and how they're measured within the company. Questions like: What motivates you? What skills are most important to you in your work? How should the team be gauging our success? Where do you want to be in a year? And: How do you think I might be able to help?

  3. 3. Find out what excites your teammate

    Psychologically, when we get excited about something we can hardly contain ourselves. So one of the best ways to get someone to open up (to create a strong relationship) is to find what excites them and focus conversations around that. Ask questions like: What do you do in your time off? What excited you about the job when you first joined? What are some of your favorite hobbies and how did you first get into them? When do you feel energized most?

  4. 4. Explore the challenges they're facing

    Once you've uncovered a little about what motivates your teammate and how they look at or measure success, you'll want to understand some of their roadblocks too. Challenges and roadblocks faced by teammates are opportunities for others on the team to step-up and provide support, guidance, or direction. Consider asking: What's the biggest hurdle you're up against right now? What was a time you felt stuck or unmotivated? Who, if anyone, is a blocker to your work right now? Where are you facing blocks in your work?

  5. 5. Repeat the same for yourself

    It's not a relationship if your teammates don't understand what excites you, how you measure success, and the challenges you're facing as well. You have to be open in sharing these things proactively too. Try not to make every conversation about you, but don't hesitate to share answers to these questions as they relate to yourself when it makes sense to do so.

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