I’ve read a couple of articles lately that are telling people what I have long known: connecting with your co-workers on a social level enhances productivity.
I’ve had a few jobs in my time, and the ones that I loved the most are the ones where I had warm relationships with my co-workers. Why? Because while I loved doing what I did, I loved it more when I was doing something for someone I really appreciated and respected.
If your manager thinks that chit-chat and socialization doesn’t belong in the meeting room, tell him to think again.
Chit-chat boost happiness – And happiness is a boost to productivity. I was most productive when I was at a company I loved with people I admired, and one of the reasons why I came to be in that place was because I’d been permitted chit-chat with them. In this day and age, people don’t go out after work with their co-workers for drinks, and there aren’t too many company softball teams to join. Pre-meeting conversation is one of the few ways you can help your co-workers establish these closer relationships.
Chit-chat promotes trust – Again, those admiration and mutual respect cards come into play again. I work better with people that I trust, and one of the ways I came to trust these people is because I’ve learned about their backgrounds and the things that are important to them.
Chit-chat allows your manager to celebrate others – If he’s not already using meetings to give nods to employees who are doing fantastic work, he should be. But some chit-chat gives him the opportunity to learn that his employees are doing triathalons, have kids that have graduated on Harvard’s dean’s list, and so on. Celebrate everything, it makes people feel special, and that makes them want to do better work.
Chit-chat breaks restore focus – There are lots of studies out there that indicate breaks from work restore focus. If you have a longer meeting, set up a break and allow the conversation to flourish. Chances are likely they’ll be able to get back to work afterwards refreshed and ready to go.
If your manager feels like chit-chat is going to creep in on valuable meeting time, schedule it into the agenda. If you plan it, let it happen, and then get on to other subjects, you’ll still get the same value.
Long live chit-chat!
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