(Editor's note: this post originally appeared on the blog in the CU Project Management networking group. This group is open to credit union staff in the Carolinas who have a registered web site address. Please click here to view and join the group.)
Written by: Sandon Nachmann, Coastal CU.
If I were to ask you what’s more important to you, your family or your job what would you say? If you were to ask your co-workers, boss, or direct reports (if you have any) the same question what do you think they would say? I’m pretty sure the answer would be family.
I started going to crossfit about 4 months ago and became friends with one of the guys there. We talk in the gym and have hung out a few times so I’ve learned that he has two boys. I think they’re about 10 and 14 but I have no idea what their names are. I’m sure he can tell you that I have 4 kids and might have an idea of their ages, but he also has no idea what their names are. In contrast I have a few really good friends in NY that I’ve been friends with for 15 plus years. I can say that I definitely know the names of their kids, just like they know the names of mine.
Would you consider someone a “great” friend if after 15 years they had no idea what your kid’s names were? Just think about that for a minute… Does your best friend know the name of your kids, or the name of your spouse? I’m not sure at what point during a friendship that distinction or the importance of that knowledge occurs, but it definitely does.
Where am I going with this? If you want to build strong trusting relationships with those around you then you need to know them, and part of knowing them is knowing what’s important to them. While your career is important if you had to pick between the two, your family usually trumps all.
“Know your people” - Try applying that same logic of your friends “knowing” you to your co-workers, directs, or boss. When you first start working with someone you probably didn’t know too much about them. Over time you might learn they have kids but might not have learned their names. Now assume you worked closely with that same person for the next 15 years but never took the time to learn the name of their kids or spouse. Would you consider that a close trusting relationship?
I worked with someone for 14+ years early on in my career. Part of his ritual greeting was asking about my kids. But in reality he knew nothing about my kids, didn’t know their ages, and definitely not their names. I’d play along and say everyone was fine, but in the back of my mind I was thinking why does he ask because he really doesn’t care.
I challenge you to take a litmus test of those around you at work. Do you know what’s important to them? Do you know the names of their kids or spouse? If not, then you have some homework to do.