Now that we have some insight into Australian workplace cultures, let’s look at some strategies for success within an Australian workplace.
To be successful in your WIL experience and to develop your professional networks, you need to build good working relationships. Building relationships in the workplace is similar to making new friends, except that the boundaries of the relationship are quite different. So how can you build positive relationships in the workplace?
Be polite: It is easy to say to ‘be polite’ but this action requires a good understanding of the acceptable behaviour and cultures of a workplace. What one workplace may consider acceptable, may be inappropriate in another setting. Generally, though, being courteous by saying a simple ‘hello, how are you?’ can be enough to help support relationships in the workplace.
Be positive: This does not require you to constantly celebrate every aspect of life. It is often very challenging to be positive all the time. Being positive means looking for those opportunities to encourage others around you, acknowledge their contribution and support and always look for the learning opportunities in what you are doing.
Have empathy: Empathy is your ability to understand how someone else may be feeling in a situation. Everyone believes their work is important and people are often quite busy with multiple tasks. Therefore, respect the workloads your colleagues may have. Consider how your behaviours or requests may be interpreted (or misunderstood) by others and think about the best way to interact with others considerate of their perspective.
Think before you ask: It can be annoying when a colleague doesn’t show initiative to think for themselves. As learners, you should have many questions. Asking questions is not a bad thing. However, if the question is something you should be able to figure out, others may feel you are wasting their time. As a rule of thumb, think about C3B4me. This means checking three sources before asking your supervisor. Sources may include company resources, online information or colleagues doing a similar job.
Communicate effectively: Good and professional communication in the workplace is very important. The care that you take to ensure spelling and grammar are correct in written communication such as emails conveys your interest in the task. If communicating face-to-face your body language, eye contact and tone of voice all convey messages to the recipient.
Care with social media: Social media is important in the modern business world. To help build your professional networks you may connect with colleagues via social media. However, what you post and the comments you make on social media can have an impact on your real world relationships
Don’t expect results overnight: Like any relationship, building relationships with your colleagues doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work. It’s best to not try and be everyone’s best friend straight out of the gate, but develop a gradual rapport. Eventually, you’ll find your have great (and lasting) relationships that breed their own successes.
Let’s hear some tips for success from a WIL supervisor.
Building Great Work Relationships: Making Work Enjoyable and Productive an online resource developed by Mind Tools, accessed 13/12/19 at https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/good-relationships.htm
Garfinkle, J. (2019) Building Positive Relationships at Work. Online article. Accessed 13/12/19 at https://garfinkleexecutivecoaching.com/articles/build-positive-work-relationships/building-positive-relationships-at-work
Jackson, A. E. (2018) 8 Ways to Cultivate Better Work Relationships in 2018. Online article. Access 13/12/19 at https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/cultivate-better-work-relationships/
Understanding Australian Workplace Cultures: Understanding workplace cultures
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