A new job brings you fresh and exciting opportunities. Aside from your day-to-day responsibilities, there are plenty that lie within the relationships you establish with your colleagues.
Making connections on a new job may seem a little daunting to some, especially in an unfamiliar environment. However, building rapport with your new colleagues is as critical as learning your role.
Why is building rapport important?
Building rapport is surely one way to make yourself well-liked among your new team of coworkers, but there are further reasons that make this more important:
1. Assimilate better
While your HR manager or your direct supervisor may have taken you through an orientation, it might not be sufficient to understand employees’ daily work experiences. By building rapport with your colleagues, you can glean insights into the expectations of bosses and teams you will work with, the workplace culture, and the daily happenings in the office.
2. Establish interpersonal relationships
Communication with colleagues on the day-to-day is necessary for the execution of work – establishing strong interpersonal relationships with your coworkers is therefore important to ensure tasks are completed seamlessly. When you have a good rapport with your colleagues, you can amicably solve differences and challenges that may come about.
3. Future opportunities
The relationships you build at work can play a big role in your career success. A senior colleague who works closely with you may recognise your hard work and recommend you for a promotion, for example. In other instances, these coworkers can be trustworthy references in the future should you look for better opportunities elsewhere. An ex-colleague may also drop a recommendation to his/her boss to headhunt you for a better position.
Rapport-building tips at a new workplace
Whether you are engaging with colleagues in the office or networking through telecommuting, these rapport-building tips will help you through:
1. Find common ground
The easiest way to break the ice and build rapport with a new colleague on the first day at work is to find common ground. This could be about mutual connection, a shared interest or even views on current affairs. Such topics are excellent conversation starters that enable you to understand your colleagues better outside of work, and in turn, let them learn more about you.
You can explore this during lunch, on your way to a meeting, while waiting for participants to join an internal teleconference call, or when heading home with a colleague who happens to live near you.
2. Ask mindful questions
Asking job-related questions is also a great way to start conversations. Hearing from colleagues about their professional backgrounds and their experience levels lets you familiarise yourself with their expertise areas so you know who to look out for should you need help.
As you ask, ensure you are listening attentively. Take note of the details, such as where they have worked, how many years of experience they have, the stakeholders they have worked with, and even their professional interests. By paying attention to their professional lives and sharing some information of your own, you build a good rapport with your colleagues. Remember to follow up with more questions to avoid one-way communication.
3. Share knowledge
Perhaps you have some materials from training you attended a few months back that will be relevant to your coworkers? Maybe your experience in a similar project in your previous job will go a long way in making it a success. Knowledge sharing is a fantastic way to discuss your expertise in a particular area of work. In turn, your colleagues can recognise your experience level and have more trust in approaching you for advice.
4. Offer help
Little acts of kindness go a long way! Whether you hold the door for a colleague and chit-chat for a bit at the doorway or assist a coworker in setting up a meeting for a team huddle, offering help allows you to build and maintain meaningful relationships with your colleagues.
While this feeds into trust and a display of empathy, assisting coworkers is one way to put yourself out there and let your work speak for itself. However, be sure to draw the boundaries — do not initiate help for the sake of it, as you may find yourself stuck with a task that is beyond your capabilities to handle.
Should you be approached by a colleague for assistance, take on the task if you have the bandwidth and stay in touch to ask questions wherever you need to. If you cannot work on the task, politely relay it to the colleague and offer to find a workaround if possible.