Starting a new job? Here’s how to nail new work friendships
The Sector > Jobs News > Starting a new job? Here’s how to nail new work friendships

Starting a new job? Here’s how to nail new work friendships

by Freya Lucas

September 08, 2023

Many aspects of beginning in a new early childhood education and care (ECEC) role can be overwhelming there’s new children to meet, names to learn, policies to go over, and of course, a whole new team of coworkers to get to know. 


Having positive relationships with others in your team is essential in any role, but in a caring sector such as ECEC, those relationships can be “make or break”. 


You need your teammates to have your back, to help you find your way, to help and support you on the tricky days, and to guide and inspire your pedagogy and practice. 


In the piece below, adapted from one which first appeared in Fast Company, sociologist and author Tracy Brower shares four tips to help new employees to make friends during their first week on the job.


Do it on purpose be intentional 


Researchers have found that it takes around 40-60 hours to become a casual friend and it takes about 200 hours for someone to become a close friend. Making friends is an investment of time, effort and emotional energy. 


During your first week on the job, Ms Brower suggests asking people to have a coffee with you, or to make some time to meet with them one on one. She suggests using this time to ask them about their career path, and how they like working in this space. 


Asking for their advice about the culture and about how to be successful in this workplace can also be supportive, she said. 


Spend some time trying to find common ground based on your background, interests, professional goals or hobbies. 


If your workplace offers social activities or different groups to join, she suggests getting involved in those too, as a great way to meet people. 


Shine a light, and make a space 


Part of making new friends at work is being accessible and approachable, and also being visible. 


Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Have your lunch in the same space as others, arrive a little early for a chat, and don’t be distracted by your phone or other things while talking to someone new. 


As a rule, people trust those they see more, and who are more familiar to them. So simply by being visible and present, you’re establishing trust and familiarity with your new team. 


If people ask you a question, or send you an email, do your best to answer as quickly as you can, and match their conversational tone. If they are friendly and fun, try and be the same. 


Share some (work safe) information about yourself…without oversharing. Good examples are major events coming up (maybe you are getting married, or you’re about to become an Uncle or Aunt), what your role was before (but keep the sharing positive), or what you’re hoping for in the future. 


One key to strong relationships is reciprocity, and when you’re open and sharing, others will follow suit. 


Have an attitude of gratitude


As well as being visible, easy to read and open about yourself, remember to be grateful for connections and for opportunities. 


Researchers from the University of New South Wales found people were more likely to seek a relationship with someone when they experienced them expressing gratitude. It seems when we see expressions of appreciation, we tend to conclude a person would be a good potential friend or trustworthy in a relationship.


People are quick to pick up on a lack of genuine behaviour, and tend to value authenticity, so try and show up humble, happy and grateful. 


Start as you mean to go on


Starting at a new workplace is a great opportunity to make friends, and it’s a window worth taking advantage of. Before you know anyone, it’s easier to introduce yourself to everyone. 


Embrace the period of being the ‘new kid on the block’ when you can ask questions, cast a wide net, and introduce yourself broadly. Of course, you can make new work friends any time, but being new gives you a unique license to reach out and connect with others. 


Your experience will vary, but friends are such an important part of a positive work experience that making the effort will be worth it for your happiness, satisfaction, and fulfillment.


To read the original coverage of this story, please see here

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