Starting work straight out of school is an exciting but nerve-wracking next step for many young people. On the one hand, earning your first pay packet and escaping school is a big attraction. On the other hand, it can be hard to imagine how you will fit in and build workplace relationships with people often older than you.
We spend a lot of our time (and sometimes the majority of our week) at work. Research shows that building positive relationships in the workplace goes a long way to deciding how we feel at work and therefore whether we enjoy it.
How can I build positive relationships in the workplace?
It is normal to feel nervous about starting a job or apprenticeship. Even more so when you are leaving your schoolmates behind. These are the friends you have known and spent most of your time with for the past 4 years. Some people will be excited to meet new people in the workplace but what if you are feeling anxious about it?
Show an interest or share an interest
Showing an interest in the people you work with can be a good first step towards positive workplace relationships. While you do not need to know every single detail about them, simply asking how they are or what they got up to at the weekend can start to build a relationship.
Similarly, sharing your own interests can be a helpful starting point. You will be surprised how many are shared by those around you. Whether that is music, Netflix recommendations, movies, sports or hobbies, friendships are built on common ground.
Workplace relationships and a good first impression…
First of all: try to relax.
Our doubts and worries can often get the better of us. You want to make a good impression. You don’t want to make a mistake. However, it is important to remember that no one starts as an expert in their field.
Striving for perfection can trigger unneeded stress and anxiety that will make it harder to get to know the people you are working with.
Building workplace connections
Your place of work may also host regular social events and nights out. This is a great opportunity to bond with colleagues outside of the working environment.
Take advantage of a more relaxed atmosphere to learn more about the people you are working with. Again, show an interest and share interests to find that common ground to bond over.
Treating colleagues with respect
It is important to deal with work colleagues the way you would like to be treated. This tip is perhaps a bit obvious but it is particularly relevant within the workplace.
Being respectful in the workplace goes a long way, especially when you are likely to be the ‘newbie’ learning the ropes from others.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
We can put pressure on ourselves to get everything right from day one and therefore be afraid to ask for help. Which of course doesn’t make much sense because starting out in a new job or apprenticeship means you don’t know everything!
Joking aside, it can feel intimidating to ask questions or seek help with your work. But it is better to ask for help than try to muddle through and make mistakes that your workmates might need to spend extra time trying to fix.
Talk to someone…
If you are struggling at the moment or going through big life changes like leaving school or starting an apprenticeship, The Spark can help with counselling and support.
‘See Me Scotland‘ and ‘My World of Work‘ are great websites to check out when starting a new job. These sites offer advice and support on important subjects such as building relationships and workplace mental health.