Interpersonal communications are as strange as they are wonderful. When you’re around the same people five days a week, eight hours a day, you build up a bond that’s relatively indisputable.
Unfortunately, that means there’s plenty of potential for drama, even as there’s potential for friendships.
So, what can you do to – if not entirely prevent arguments in your office space – make sure that your startup’s team can work together peacefully?
There are a few steps you can take to at least make it easier for a team to get along. While much of that compatibility will depend on your employees’ willingness to work together, you’ll also want to keep the following tips in mind.
Before you do anything else, take a look around your workplace.
What would you say is the overall mood? How do your employees communicate with one another?
Some workplaces are jovial, with employees cracking jokes or playing lighthearted pranks on one another. Others are more serious or restrained. Even a sense of modernism versus comfort can change the way people feel as though they can interact with one another professionally.
So, if you want to ensure that your teams are compatible, professional, and forward-thinking, be sure to reflect those expectations in your workplace. Cultivate an atmosphere in which conflicts are openly and reasonably discussed. Encourage your employees to remember that they’re supporting a dream while they’re at work.
With that mindset framework in place, you’ll be able to more readily ensure that your employees can work together peacefully.
You may also want to consider making the hiring process a group event.
While this can be intimidating for new hires, opening up an interview allows your other employees to get a feel for potential coworkers before they’re on-boarded. The opinions of your employees, after all, matters when it comes to new hires. If they feel a person isn’t compatible or doesn’t have the company’s ambitions in mind, they’ll tell you.
In turn, you’ll be able to make hiring decisions that benefit the whole of your company, down to the interpersonal level.
If you want the teams operating out of your office to collaborate, show them how to do so.
This means leading by example. Invite a new group in to collaborate with you and, without telling them, show them how you’d handle conflict. Alternatively, teach them how to delegate – again, without making the process feel like a lecture.
Above all else, try to avoid being hypocritical. If you tell your employees that they need to approach one another honestly, or that they need to air their disagreements politely, don’t contradict those rulings with your own behavior.
As is the case with atmosphere setting, your employees will respond to one another with the same approach and tone as you do. When you purposefully cultivate kindness, your employees will mirror your attitude.
Frequent check-ins serve a dual purpose. They’ll keep you updated on the progress of your group while also allowing you to oversee burgeoning interpersonal relationships.
For the best success, check in with your operating teams at least once a week. While you don’t want meetings to overwhelm your employees’ ability to work, you should touch base to make sure that any professional conflicts are receiving the attention that they need. Likewise, you can learn more about your employees and assign them to increasingly appropriate groups the longer they stay with your company.
Your teams should also have the necessary tools to get their jobs done prior to starting in on a project.
For example, make sure they have a Slack channel for themselves so that they can communicate while attending to other responsibilities. Alternatively, they can use a tool like Timeneye to track the progress of their project and to assess how much time each member is contributing to it.
To cover your bases, ask them what tools they think they’ll need for a project, and make sure all members of the party can access them. This will prevent unnecessary delays and conflicts.
Finally, communicate with your employees.
While frequent check-ins will serve you well as an employer, you’ll need to reach out to individuals if you want to establish a trusting and productive atmosphere.
Note that this doesn’t mean serving as your employees’ counselor. Instead, it means making yourself available for professional conversations about what’s going on in your office. Likewise, it means expressing yourself when you’re unhappy with the dynamic of a group.
Like your employees, you need to be able to reach out and have your message and desires received. When you communicate, you show your office that you’re willing to grow alongside them.
You’ll never be able to prevent all of your office’s drama. However, if you make an effort to build a supportive atmosphere that encourages communication as well as productivity, you’ll find that your groups may be more compatible than even they initially believed.