Posted by:
Harriet Atsegbua

Harriet Atsegbua

March 16, 2015


Your Guide to Finding an Ally at Work

According to the World Health Organization, about 58 percent of the world’s population spends a third of their adult lives at work. Given the number of hours spent at work, it’s only wise to ensure that the work environment is a happy place, and a significant way to make this happen is through finding an ally at work. These relationships are necessary in the workplace because they can affect our mood and the quality of our work, which can have overall effects on the quality of our life. Follow these steps to find the Christina to your Meredith at work:

1. Have an open mind.
When building allies, it’s often natural to gravitate toward people we have things in common with. We might feel more comfortable seeking friendships with people who share our ethnicity, gender, or other similar identifying factors, but often, we need to understand that while such relationships may seem natural, they may not always be in our best interest. Thus, it’s important to keep an open mind and seek out mutual interests that can benefit our professional development and contribute to our growth in the workplace.

2. Be friendly.
A famous proverb reads that he who wants friends must show himself or herself friendly. Literally, we must give out what we want to receive. If we desire to build allies in the work place, we should understand that others might be seeking to the do the same and oftentimes with us. So, we must be approachable, willing to lend a hand as long as our work doesn’t suffer, and be generally affable without being pushovers. Develop a reputation for being that colleague who offers encouragement, provides support, and serves as a sounding board for the ideas of others.

3. Build trust.
Be the person that others can rely on. Keep your word and honor your promises. If you have to back out of any agreement, make sure you inform those concerned. Being trustworthy also involves refraining from office gossip, throwing people under the bus, and assassinating people’s characters in a bid to get ahead.

4. Be professional.
Understand the requirements of your job and stick to them. People are more likely to see you as an ally if your reputation for professionalism precedes you. Don’t be sloppy on the job and don’t meddle unnecessarily in matters that don’t concern you. Also, while forming allies at work, use wisdom and avoid crossing the fine line between proper office conduct and getting involved in the personal lives of those you want to form allies with. If your relationships with coworkers spill over into friendships outside the workplace, make sure you understand that if the alliance goes south, it could affect your performance on the job.

5. Be teachable.
Often, our desire to form allied relationships at work stem from the realization that the people we seek out as allies have some value that can be added to our work lives. So we should maintain a teachable spirit and show some humility while we form these relationships. Allies don’t always have to be people with whom we share job functions, they could be our superiors or even people who may be much lower on the professional totem pole, but have a wealth of experience we can benefit from.

Photo: Johnny Greig / Getty Images

By Harriet Atsegbua Levo League