Is Socializing at Work Good for Your Career?
Is Socializing at Work Good for Your Career?

One of my executive coaching clients was having some difficulty at her company determining whether employee socializing at work was a good or bad thing. We had a very lively conversation about the topic. She asked me some questions about the issue, and was interested in my perspective.

I’ve indicated her questions, and my responses below. What do you think are the pros and cons of socializing in the workplace?

1. Do you think many employees socialize with their coworkers?

The modern workplace has become a community center or a "home away from home" where people get many of their social needs met.

Neuroscience research supports the idea that our brains are hard wired to connect with others. We spend so much of our time at work, that it's natural that we develop relationships in the workplace.

Gallup engagement studies suggest that having friends at work is a major reason people keep their current jobs. The relationship with their boss is critical to retention.

2. Do you think most of this socializing happens inside or outside of the office? Or both?

The environments of a number of enlightened workplaces such as Google or Facebook are designed for employees to build relationships. Connecting informally can build trust, foster creativity and engagement and create a happy workplace.

Socializing can be a great way to get to know others, develop empathy and create a high performance culture of people who are happy to work together on significant goals. People can further develop their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills by socializing with others.

Socializing outside of the workplace can be tricky related to maintaining appropriate boundaries. This is especially important for bosses and subordinates. Exercising good judgment is critical. Get feedback from others to check your version of reality.

3. Can it be beneficial to ones career to socialize with colleagues? How so?

Collaborating with colleagues socially can be very politically savvy building trust and support. It can help team members get to know each other on a personal level increasing engagement. It can help when influencing and persuading others is needed to achieve common goals.

Socializing can help you get "the scoop" or inside intelligence on what's happening at the company. On the other hand, some gossip often not based on evidence or data can be harmful to the business enterprise and relationships.

Our brains need some downtime so we can be reenergized and inspired.

4. Can it be detrimental? How so?

Maintaining appropriate roles and boundaries are very important. I've had some executive coaching clients report workplace examples ie. babysitting someone's kids or walking their dog can backfire when something goes wrong damaging relationships. Other employees can experience jealousy or favoritism that can sour relationships.

5. Should employees be careful not to socialize too much with coworkers? How much coworker socializing is good for your career?

Leadership is a lot about displaying good judgment. All things in moderation is usually good advice.

Mindfulness or self-awareness is key to being sensitive to other people and what motivates them. The focus of the workplace is to get work done and execute the company strategy aligned with its’ mission, vision and values.

The right balance of socializing in a specific culture can enhance the mission, and support happy employees who are passionate about their work and fully engaged. Too much socializing can be counter-productive and adversely affect some employees.

Each situation and culture is different. if you love to socialize, and your workplace culture supports that value in helping work get done than it's positive. Some people are great employees, but more quiet and introverted choosing to minimize socializing which hopefully is respected.

6. What are some smart ways to socialize with coworkers?

Formal and informal company events are great venues for people to get to know one another. Smart connecting involves empathy asking people open ended questions about themselves.

Pick up on others level of comfort in getting to know each other. Be inclusive, but respect others desire for involvement or not. Coaching conversations are less threatening when the conversation is fun and playful. Always gauge levels of interest recalibrating when necessary.

7. Anything else?

We live in an evolving world where connecting with others is a social imperative for flourishing, happiness and well-being. Social media (Facebook, Twitter, LinedIn, Google Plus etc.) demonstrate that our brain are hardwired to live and work with others for the common good.

All generations appreciate socializing at work, but the millennial generation in particular value regular involvement with others.

However, some people are more private or take more time to develop trust and open up. Respect and be tolerant of fellow employees who have different views, levels of comfort and desires. The workplace is a happier and more productive place when we display kindness and compassion to one another.

Are you working in a company where executive coaches provide leadership development to grow emotionally intelligent leaders? How is your company culture and climate influenced by employee socializing? Resonant leaders tap into their emotional intelligence and social intelligence skills to create a more fulfilling future.

One of the most powerful questions you can ask yourself is “Do I socialize at work, and is it helpful or harmful to my career?” Emotionally intelligent and socially intelligent organizations provide executive coaching as part of their transformational peak performance leadership development program.

Working with a seasoned executive coach and leadership consultant trained in emotional intelligence and incorporating assessments such as the Bar-On EQ-I, CPI 260 and Denison Culture Survey can help you become more self-aware on yourself, and interpersonal interactions. You can become a leader who models emotional and social intelligence, and who inspires people to become fully engaged with the vision, mission and strategy of your company.