12 Ways to Be a Great Colleague


I've been working full time for five years (which is so crazy to think about) and over the course of that time I've been lucky enough to work with some pretty incredible people. Being able to work closely with other individuals is so fun, challenging and rewarding. Since everyone is different, you have to learn how to adapt of the working styles of others. Some people may be more quiet, shy and reserved in an office environment (I'd say that's me 80% of the time - I like to sit back, observe, think about the task at hand and then offer my opinion after I've had time to come up with the best solution) while others are more loud, outgoing and outspoken in work settings. 

One thing that I know for sure is that having great colleagues makes a big difference when it comes to being happy with your job. I've observed the traits that my coworkers possess (and even a few that I believe I possess) and compiled some of the ones that I find to be more important for this blog post. 

While most of these tips are applicable to those with jobs in office settings, you may find that a few of them can be applied to other fields and work environments as coworker relationships are quite similar no matter where your place of employment is. 

If one of your goals for 2018 is to better yourself as a person or to stand out more at work, you'll definitely want to read on! 

1. Be willing to lend a helping hand
Does your coworker need help fixing a paper jam in the printer? Does someone need a volunteer to proofread the report they just typed up? If your workload allows, go ahead and help out your colleagues whenever they need something. Your kind gestures and willingness to help won't go unnoticed. You never know when you'll be the one in need of help, so when that time comes, you'll have some colleagues to lean on and ask for assistance (assuming that they return the favor). 

2. Support your coworkers
If you work full time, chances are that you spend more hours with your colleagues than you do with your own family (or so it seems). When it comes to work and personal life, try your best to support your team members. If a coworker is feeling down about something, try to cheer them up. If one of your work friends is in a band or on a sports team, show up at their game or their gig to cheer them on. If a coworker knows that someone is in their corner and will always be there for them, it can make a big difference. Plus, your bond as team members will only grow stronger. There's no need to go crazy and become best friends with everyone in the office, but there are probably a handful of ways that you can show support to colleagues whether you're close to them or just acquaintances. 

3. Do your best to make yourself, your boss and your team look good
Whether you work at a company that's big or small, you're there because you have a job to do. It's not a bad idea to elevate your team members in the process. When you do good work, it reflects not only on yourself, but also on your supervisor and others that you interact with on a daily basis. In a way, your reputation depends on the reputation of your team and how well your performance is gauged collectively as a group. In today's work environment, it's always good to have someone in your corner, especially your supervisor, so working hard and achieving results will not only reiterate your skills to your boss, but it will help to make you a contender for raises or promotions. 

4. Celebrate wins big and small
If you work in a professional setting, I'd be willing to bet that you and your team members have goals and objectives that you work toward every year. Isn't it so rewarding when you're able to cross a goal off of your list after accomplishing it? It feels good, right? If your coworker just finished a big project or nailed the presentation that they've been working on for weeks, be sure to speak up and congratulate them on a job well done! They'll appreciate it and be thankful that you took notice when it came to all of their hard work. 

5. Reply to phone calls and emails promptly
No one likes to be left hanging or kept in the dark when it comes to work-related questions or tasks. One of my biggest pet peeves in the workplace is having to wait on other people in order to get my work done. There's nothing worse than sending an email just to receive a reply hours or even days later. If you can communicate quickly and efficiently, your coworkers will certainly thank you for it. Just remember to read your emails  and listen to phone calls carefully - addressing all of the questions that are asked to you is important. If you reply back with a general comment and completely gloss over what was being asked to you or of you, you may run the risk of looking like you weren't paying attention (which is most likely the case when things are missed and not addressed). 

6. Give your full attention during meetings
I can't tell you how many times I've sat in meetings where people were glued to their phones or typing away on their computers. To me, nothing screams "I'm not paying attention to anything you're saying and I don't take this meeting seriously" more than team members that are constantly distracted by the devices in front of them. If you want to be respectful toward your colleagues, try to refrain from touching your phone or computer during meetings and fully listen to whoever is speaking or leading the discussion. You may just find that you got more out of the meeting and that you'll be more productive afterwards because you understand the action items and what the expectations are when it comes to your next steps. 

7. Provide honest feedback and ask for it in return
Something that everyone will most likely face in their professional lives is receiving constructive criticism. If you're approached by a coworker and asked to provide your thoughts on something, be transparent and tell them exactly what you think. You don't need to be rude or harsh with your feedback. Just give your colleague some pointers on what they could revise, edit, condense or simplify in order to make their project even more stellar. It's not a bad idea to get into the habit of asking others for feedback on your own work, too. Getting another pair of eyes on your projects can help to ensure your work is correct and consistent. 

8. Give credit where credit is due
After being a member of the workforce for five years, I've learned that a little recognition goes a long way. I can't tell you how much of a compliment it is when a colleague puts their pride aside and gives credit to someone who came up with a great idea or recognizes someone for the hard work that they've done. In the work environment, we should build each other up, not compete and tear each other down. 

9. Show up to work on time and respect other people's time
If you're running late to the office, give your boss and team members a heads up. They'll appreciate knowing where you are and whether they need to fill in for you. If you have a jam-packed day full of meetings, set the expectation from the very beginning that you have to leave at a certain time. Saying something like: "I have a meeting right after this, so I have a hard stop at 3:30" is completely acceptable. Back in November I shared some tips on What to do When You're Running Late for Work., so if you find that you're consistently racing against the clock to get into the office, you might want to check out that post.  

10. Keep your files organized and in an accessible place
You never know when someone is going to ask you for a project you worked on or a report you compiled, so it's a good idea to keep your documents and files organized by using a folder structure. Setting up folders on your workplace's shared network and saving your documents within those folders is fairly simple. Just remember to label your folders correctly and to give your files clear names. Making sure your files are organized and accessible is important because it allows your colleagues to reference work that you created on their own or even when you're out of the office. 

11. Keep a stash of supplies at your desk and offer them to colleagues in need. 
Hear a coworker coughing? Give them a cough drop. Did someone ask for a piece of gum? Share a stick from the pack you just bought at the gas station. Did someone spill something on their shirt that caused a stain? Pull out your Tide to Go pen and hand it to them. Your workplace is almost like your second home. It's a good to idea to have some basic supplies like tissues, cough drops, safety pins and stain remover at your desk anyway. If you're willing to share these small things with your colleagues, you'll be seen as someone who is dependable and generous. Just remember that you don't have to offer things to the whole office. That would get out of hand and some people might try to take advantage how nice you are. Just offer up things when opportunities arise! 

12. Lend an ear
Sometimes the best way to support a coworker is to just listen. It's as simple as that. Unplug and disconnect from your email for a second and just listen to your colleague. Hear their ideas, their questions and their concerns. If you take the time to fully listen and absorb the information your coworker is telling you, you'll be able to provide valuable feedback and comments which is what your colleague was seeking from you in the first place. 

What are some traits or qualities that you think great colleagues possess? I'd love to hear, so share your thoughts with me in the comments section below!