Monday 30th July was International Day of Friendship, an event based on the recognition of the relevance and importance of friendship as a “noble and valuable sentiment in the lives of human beings around the world.” This global initiative came from a proposal made by UNESCO which was taken up by the UN General Assembly in 1997 (A/RES/52/13), which defined the Culture of Peace as a “set of values, attitudes and behaviors that reject violence and endeavor to prevent conflicts by addressing their root causes with a view to solving problems.”
The UN identified eight areas of action which enable a culture of peace to prevail and these ring true with the world of business.
How many of these could you apply to your organization?
- “foster a culture of peace through education;
- promote sustainable economic and social development;
- promote respect for all human rights;
- ensure equality between women and men;
- foster democratic participation;
- advance understanding, tolerance and solidarity;
- support participatory communication and;
- promote international peace and security.”
Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace (A/RES/53/243)
Of course, we should all promote respect for all human rights and ensure gender equality. That’s a given. What’s interesting is the focus on democratic participation, understanding and the free flow of information and knowledge. How often do we hear the complaint that managers can’t be trusted and that nobody knows what’s going on?
We know from our 12 years of research with nearly 60,000 employees across the world that colleagues that are happy at work are more productive, more creative, more resilient, more likely to stay in their role and less likely to take time off sick.
Performance and Happiness at Work are built by the 5Cs:
It’s not much of a stretch to see that if organizations are peaceful, with a democratic approach and an open attitude to communication, employees will feel that they are listened to, that their work has a positive impact and that they would recommend the organization to a friend.
In these peaceful and harmonious organizations can leaders and their teams actually be friends?
The Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement survey repeatedly shows a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job. Friendship is a basic human need and given that many of us spend most of our waking hours at work, it’s not surprising that workplace friendships develop. They can provide great benefits, boosting trust, communication and engagement. Working with friends generally makes the day go quicker and work a happier place. A July 2014 study by LinkedIn found that nearly half of all professionals believe friendships with colleagues make them happier at work. And we know that happier employees are more productive. But successful friendships are based on equality, so does the line management model interfere?
Like all relationships at work, sensitivity is needed. If husbands and wives can work successfully together then friends can too. It’s important to balance the positive benefits of increased trust, communication and happiness at work, with any potential downsides. Maintaining honesty and integrity at all times is key.
Would you like to boost friendships in your team today?
Try this tool
- Think through what you like about your colleagues. Get everyone on the team to write it down in post-it notes.
- Review your post-it notes. Talk through confirmations and surprises.
- Thank your team members. Display all the post-it notes where everyone can see them.
- Investigate their best. Get pairs to ask each other – what brings out the best in you and how I can help bring it out?
- Explain that looking for similarities is a way to boost connection. Sharing the positive is what draws us closer together.