Join Todd Dewett for an in-depth discussion in this video Modeling exemplary behavior, part of Connecting with Peers in the Workplace (2014).
- To build great connections with your colleagues, requires you in many ways to be a model of how to do things correctly, both on the task and social side of the work equation. Now by modeling, I'm referring to how you demonstrate your abilities through your example at work. If you wish to influence or teach someone something, many people think the best way to do this is to directly interact with a person in an effort to explain what you want them to understand. That approach is very common and very useful, but it does come with one unexpected down side.
When you're directly interacting with someone, they experience you in a very different way compared to a modeling situation, where they're merely observing you work or interact with others while not actively participating themselves. When you directly interact with someone they can experience higher stress, and the possibility for miscommunication in the exchange increases. When you're simply watching and observing someone it's actually a lot easier to feel at ease and productively engage the learning process. That's why they always say, "You should walk the talk", because your example speaks louder than any lecture you could ever give.
You see, when you model great performance you increase the confidence others have in you. They feel you're reliable and can be counted on. When you model great skills in terms of social behaviors you build a sense of comfort in others. You put them at ease. When they feel confident and they feel comfortable, you're connecting. So let's think just a bit about the major compontents of the task and social behaviors that you model on a regular basis. On the task side, it's simple. First, how well do you follow the correct rules, regulations, policies and procedures required of your work? And ultimately, how good is the work you complete? In terms of following procedures, you don't have to be rule following to the point of being unquestioning or risk-averse, but you do have to set a good example that clearly shows others the rules and steps that must always be followed versus those that might be less important.
In terms of the quality of your work, if your goal is to make a real connection with your peers, you have to be at least in the top third of all your peers in terms of overall task performance. At this level, even the high performers will respect your work. And those who aren't high performers will view your work as respectable, and possibly something to aspire to. Okay, on the social side there are a host of behaviors that directly impact others that are not about you doing your normal job. These might include helping behaviors, giving positive and supportive comments, or even acting as a peacekeeper.
In different ways, each of these social behaviors makes people feel validated, like they're not alone, and ultimately, more comfortable working with you. Really connecting isn't just about you wanting to connect or you doing certain things, as we've been discussing. In the end, connecting results from a mutual desire to have a stronger relationship. When you model exemplary behavior, both task behaviors and social behaviors, what you're doing is increasing the odds the other person will let down their guard a little and maybe reach out to you proactively.
You've made them a little more confident in you and comfortable around you, And that often leads to a strong connection.