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Friendliness among colleagues: just as self-evident as customer friendliness?

Customer friendliness went through a stormy development as a measuring stick in a lot of organizations the last few years. Supported by the necessary training, many employees now put the customer on a pedestal. But how many employers care as much about friendliness among colleagues? Dutch employees value kind, helpful colleagues, as our research shows. How can you stimulate this in your organization?

colleague friendlinessA welcoming working environment can make a huge difference in employee satisfaction and therefore indirectly influences absence, retention and revenue. However, according to our research, 45% of Dutch employees say they work in an organization where there is complaining behind each other’s back instead of talking about the criticism with the person in question. It’s no surprise then, that reliability appears to be the most valued characteristic among colleagues, followed by helpfulness, talent, cheerfulness and kindness.

Culture is communication

Having kind colleagues that are there for each other and think along with each other, you can influence this slightly when hiring of course. However, more important (and less tangible) is the culture on the work floor. If you want to influence it, you will have to translate ‘helpful’ and ‘kind’ to specific behavior. Henry might see that Paul needs help for that one project, but how does he offer it so that Paul doesn’t feel inadequate? Anna wants to give Jamila kind and positive feedback, but doesn’t know how to do that exactly. In summary: culture is a question of communication which consists of different skills.

Get started with behavior

If a ‘helpful’ culture can be translated into specific behavior and skills, it can be developed too. A daylong inspiration session can be a good start, but it won’t be any more than that. Structural change requires offering guidance and practice over a longer period of time. Not one-off and intensively, but working on specific behavior in small pieces and frequently. Do you require more reliability? Train employees in setting SMART goals and agreements. Giving feedback ‘kindly’? Make sure they are familiar with the 4E model.

Recognize the differences

Research shows differences between generations and sectors as well. The younger the employee, the more they care about modesty and confidence, for example. Older employees don’t really care for that. They mostly appreciate the characteristics ‘kind’ and ‘clever’, which don’t matter much according to starters. Criticizing someone behind their back appears to be a problem within government and public administration most of all, in contrast with the construction and industry sector. So find out what the needs of your organization are, specify this into behavior and get started with that!

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About this blog

Professional communication is an art. We want to help people reach an unexpected level of competence and as a result become more comfortable, happy, effective and successful in all possible areas of professional communication. We support organisations that train their employees in this. Here you can read our insights. You'll find updates on our platform in the Product Blog.