Career advice

Expert advice: Strengthen your social relationships at work

If you only focus on professional competences, you'll overlook the importance of social skills for a well-run and successful working life.

By Career Counsellor Jeanette Svendsen

Good professional performance and results are just one of several factors that determine whether we're happy at work. A more underrated but just as important factor is our social relationships with colleagues in the department and across the organisation.

Good social relationships at the workplace increase possibilities to use and pass on our knowledge, and this is vital, not only to be visible and included, but also to contribute to value creation. I've met professionally strong members who are frustrated because they don't feel that they get the recognition they deserve at work.

It's no secret that the best employees aren't necessarily given the most interesting tasks. Relationships and visibility are just as important as professional competences. Some people aren't aware of this, and they risk becoming a company’s best kept secret if they don't cultivate and strengthen their social skills.

Pass on your knowledge

In a work context, social skills are closely related to the ability to pass on knowledge so that it becomes valuable to others. This requires that we know how to communicate and cooperate across the organisation. Sharing your knowledge with others increases the probability that you'll be invited to take part in collaborations and projects. This also applies for specialists and managers.

If you're a programmer, you can have valuable synergy with a person from marketing, because broad collaboration not only contributes to your network, but it also helps you to understand the organisation's culture and to bring yourself into play in cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Important for well-being

Like in many other areas of life, a basic requirement for well-being at work is feeling recognised and appreciated. Therefore, experiencing that your abilities and contributions are not appreciated can stifle motivation and joy at work. But while management is responsible for the framework and requirements, you are responsible for making yourself visible and showing that you’re ready to get involved. You can’t take for granted that colleagues or management know what you bring to the table in a busy workday, if you don't share your knowledge.

If you want to be an employee who others can learn from and be motivated by; an employee they want to include and talk to, you have to engage yourself and learn to navigate the organisation. If this doesn't come naturally to you, try starting with small steps. Social skills don’t change from one day to the other. And when others see and understand how your knowledge can be used and create value, you’ll have prepared the ground for these important relationships.