Fostering authentic relationships in the workplace is a vital component of a thriving and harmonious professional environment. To provide insights on this crucial subject, we've sought advice from HR leaders and company founders who are experienced in building meaningful connections within their teams. From cultivating cultural humility and continuous learning to showing genuine interest in coworkers' backgrounds, here are the top eight insights these leaders shared.
Cultivate Cultural Humility and Continuous Learning
Building authentic relationships across different cultures and backgrounds begins with cultural humility, which is a lifelong commitment to self-reflection and understanding that you'll continually be learning, unlearning, and relearning about other people and cultures.
When learning about other colleagues, be open-minded and seek to understand, but don't expect yourself to be an expert on their lives or experiences. Instead, learn about how they approach work and the world, and be ready to share, too.
Dr. Kyle Elliott, Founder and Tech Career Coach, CaffeinatedKyle.com
Prioritize Team-Building Activities Outside Work
As a business owner, ensuring that my employees have time to bond outside the workplace is a priority. This can be a simple team dine-out.
We also plan to do team-building activities, such as short out-of-town trips, for my team to get to know each other on a personal level. They wouldn't be able to focus on this when they are clocked in.
Preferring team activities instead of individual ones allows them to interact with each other more. During the pandemic, we organized online team-building exercises to help build work relationships as well. We also allow special interest clubs within the workplace so that employees with the same hobbies can bond more.
Mark Damsgaard, Founder and Head of Client Advisory, Global Residence Index
Celebrate Traditions Through Company Events
When you meet people from different backgrounds, you encounter a lot of different traditions. In order to bridge the gap and build authentic relationships with coworkers from diverse backgrounds, you can create company events and employee engagement activities that celebrate these traditions. This allows employees to come together and get to know each other on a more personal level in a fun environment.
Max Wesman, Chief Operating Officer, GoodHire
Promote Cross-Departmental Collaboration
One of my favorite tactics for company engagement is to pick out three people to work together across departments on a specific project. The goal here is not some kind of make-work project, but one where the departmental knowledge of the different contributors is a requirement.
Recently, we did one of these with sample data generation. We needed someone from our software development team to generate the data. Meanwhile, someone from our customer success team verified the data was realistic.
I was the project manager. These forced collisions inevitably strengthen bonds and provide us with the water-cooler time to learn about one another.
Trevor Ewen, COO, QBench
Seek Common Ground for Connection
As an HR expert, I have fostered authentic relationships with coworkers from diverse backgrounds. One valuable insight I have gained is the importance of seeking common ground.
Building connections based on shared interests or experiences can create a strong foundation for understanding and collaboration. For instance, I recall a time when I organized a team-building activity that involved cooking various dishes from different cultures.
Through this experience, my employees and I bonded over our love for food and discovered new culinary delights. By engaging in activities that celebrate our differences while finding commonalities, we could cultivate genuine relationships that transcend our diverse backgrounds.
Haya Subhan, General Manager, First Aid at Work Course
Foster Inclusivity and Open Conversations
To build authentic relationships with coworkers from different backgrounds, I encourage the promotion of a culture of inclusivity and respect. This involves recognizing and appreciating the diverse experiences and perspectives that each employee brings to the table.
One effective strategy is to facilitate open conversations about diversity and inclusion. This could be as team discussions, workshops, or training sessions. Encourage employees to share their experiences and learn from each other.
Remember, building authentic relationships requires empathy and understanding. By fostering an environment where everyone feels valued and heard, you can cultivate stronger, more authentic relationships among your team.
Madhurima Halder, Content Manager, Recruit CRM
Implement Buddy Programs for Integration
Buddy programs are double wins. Not only do they help new employees understand the company's structure with the support of more experienced workers, but they also have an immeasurable potential to build relationships between coworkers.
Such a process is even more precious when the team comprises people from different cultures and backgrounds. Matching a new joiner with an accomplished colleague opens a cross-cultural communication space and will probably create an authentic bond. Although the mentor-mentee model dominates, it can also be about mutual learning.
Contrary to what many think, employees understand each other's perspectives and attitudes by working on a common goal, not necessarily by participating in team-building activities.
Ongoing collaboration and brainstorming bring much more value to an integration process than occasional parties do. It is the manager's or HR's task to pair employees, which helps them widen their cultural horizons.
Martyna Szczesniak, Community Expert, MyPerfectResume
Show Genuine Interest in Coworkers' Backgrounds
With a team spread across four continents, our diversity is quite remarkable. To cultivate genuine connections, start by being genuinely interested and curious about learning about your co-workers' backgrounds, which can include their cultures and perspectives.
When co-workers feel that you have an authentic interest in their experiences beyond work-related matters, it creates an atmosphere of openness and a sense of belonging.
Eran Mizrahi, CEO and Founder, Ingredient Brothers
These insights serve as a reminder that genuine relationships in the workplace not only contribute to a more inclusive and productive team but also enrich the overall work experience. As we continue to evolve in a globalized world, these approaches can play a pivotal role in ensuring that every individual's unique perspective and background are valued – and that teamwork and collaboration thrive.