The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “What are some strategies for making allies in the office?” is written by Gina Argento, president and CEO of Broadway Stages.
Landing a coveted role can end up being miserable if you feel alone at the job. That doesn’t mean you should become best friends with everyone in the office, especially not on your first day. But if you want to be successful in your role and at the company, forming alliances in the office is imperative.
I started working at my family’s film and television production company when I was 10 years old, shadowing my father and brother around every aspect of the business so I could learn the ropes of the television and film industry. Having been here now for quite some time, I’ve learned a few things from watching the way employees interact and understanding what makes some of them successful. But the one consistent trait I see among the most successful employees is their openness and willingness to work with others, whether it’s their everyday team or a team brought in on a one-time basis.
Here are some things I’ve learned when it comes to working with others:
Take criticism, but not personally
When you’re working in a group, everyone has their own ideas on how to get a project done. But working with others inevitably means that someone’s idea will be rejected. If you’re that person whose idea was rejected, don’t take it personally, because it makes you look like you’re not a team player. No one wants to work with someone like that. If your idea was nixed and you don’t understand why, it’s okay to ask; maybe, then, next time you can better contribute to the project planning and see your idea carried out.
Make yourself approachable
No one wants to talk to the person sitting alone at their desk with headphones on, music blaring and closed off to the world. Present yourself as someone who is easy to talk to and friendly.
I spend half my day running around the office, checking in on my staff and seeing if and how I can help them. I love that I am constantly on the move and engaging with everyone, because it lets them know that I’m here for them, ready and willing to get my hands dirty and do any job that comes my way. When I am in my office, I have an open-door policy, and my staff knows that they can knock and walk in whenever they need to.
Be someone that people can approach when they have questions. If you’re a seasoned veteran in the company, introduce yourself to new staff members and let them know you’re happy and excited to help them whenever and however you can. If you’re the newbie, be ready to dive right in and show your willingness to do whatever needs to be done. Be confident in your abilities. You were hired for a reason, so show everyone why your boss put their faith in you. If you do, you’ll become a colleague that people will naturally flock to.
Don’t watch from a distance
Giving back to the community is important to me, and every so often I take some of my staff to charity events so they can give back too. But it’s not enough just to go to an event, whether it’s for charity or it’s the company holiday party. If you’re standing in the background not talking to anyone, you’re not going to make friends and it reflects poorly on you. Get involved and become part of the conversation. Last year, we collaborated with the New York Police Department’s 94th Precinct to throw a holiday party for children and families from Brooklyn. I saw how much bonding happened while they were volunteering, and those friendships continued back in the office.
Building friendships at work can be a rewarding experience, because it contributes to your overall happiness in the office. No one wants to feel lonely, so make an effort to find your place among your colleagues.