Three Important People to Befriend at Work
Text © Robert Barry Francos / FFanzeen Productions, 2019
Images from the Internet
As one makes their way through a work environment, it is normal to encounter many different levels of people, from management to the custodial staff. Each one of them will, at some point, serve your needs, or require you to attend theirs.
Getting on the good side of coworkers and those in charge is obvious. And as a side-note, always remember to give the credit for work to the right person, and be willing to take the blame for your own mistakes, rather than point at others. This honesty will more often than not reflect positive on you, and endear you to the management. Also, if you’re honest about the little errors you make, when a big one comes along that is not your fault, there is a better chance that they will believe you if you have a history of being truthful. When complemented for your work, do not be embarrassed to ask the person to send an email to your immediate supervisor reflecting this, as it will go into your file for the next evaluation. If I receive an email thank you, I will respond and “CC” my boss.
That being said, there are three people (or groups) to keep companionship with, even if they are not your favorites within the company.
The first is the person at the Front Desk, who is usually the Administrative Assistant. S/he is the hub of everything that goes on in a company, and by being attentive to them, you will get to hear about the good, the bad, and yes, the ugly when it comes to those at the workplace. On some level, they are the hub controlling everything, even if they don’t make the decisions. Most management will rely on that person to do their work for them, because they have their own business to do that usually affects everyone. By befriending the person out front, they most likely are happy to share their frustrations and you can gain insights to the workings of the company, and especially who to seek for mentoring, or to avoid at all costs.
While I have found that most of the Administrative Assistants are quite nice and friendly, which makes this all the easier to accomplish, sometimes they can be withholding and grumpy. I worked for a company where this latter was true, and yet I bought her coffee a couple of times a week, made sure to ask how she was doing, and even make small talk about the weather. Before long, I was her confidant, and I heard all the news about everything and everyone. There were even times I knew who was going to be promoted or fired before they did. This way, I was able to keep my pulse on the going-on in this corporate draconian company.
The second person(s) is whomever is in charge of the mail. While most companies now rely more on email than the physicality of letters, don’t think that they are no longer vital to include in your group. This is important for the two-way direction of mail. For example, one company I worked for, I was able to send any letter/package I wanted without having to go to the post office. I would hang around (at slow times) in the mail room, and somewhere in there be sure to put my letter/package in the bin. They saw it was from me, and they just let it slide. At the time, I was active on an auction site, and was able to mail off what I had put up for sale without having to pay for the postage. This last thing works better in a large corporation than a smaller company.
In the other direction, for a while I was getting packages that were disappearing from my mailbox. Most companies will not let you receive personal mail at work, but I did not have an issue with that, because I hung out in the mailroom occasionally, befriending the people there, especially when they let me know I had something to pick up.
The last person or group is whomever is in charge of IT/Technical Services. The stereotype of the IT person (e.g., think Jimmy Fallon on “SNL”) is someone who is impatient with staff who know less than them, but it’s important to remember that everyone knows less than them. If you have trouble with your computer, especially in a large company, it may take a while until they can get to you to fix the problem. In one company, I became good buddies with the IT person (even beyond the front doors), and he was always quick to answer when I was dealing with issues; I am an end user, but know nothing about the running of the machine. The analogy I tend to use is that I can drive the car but can’t fix the motor. One time, I had an IT person fix my personal laptop that I brought in before he serviced the Vice President’s workstation.
Here’s another small but interesting note in that often, the place where the IT person(s) are stationed is in a faraway room, and often windowless. They get bored being so confined, so tend to be willing for companionship. Also, it’s a good place to hide when you don’t want to be seen and need a break from too much work (most people just go to the bathroom and occupy a stall).
It’s important to remember not to abuse any of these people or situations; for example, don’t spend too long schmoozing because they also need to do their jobs, and may come to find you a distraction more than a friend. It’s a fine line, but one worth exploring.