Submitted by merasmus on
I'm a non-manager working in a highly technical environment where bits-and-bytes environment. Due to ecenomic situation i was forced from my Functional Analysis-job back to this techy environment.
My collegaues are very much closed. I dont feel any 'connection' with any of them.
What is a good way to get to know them more socially, so as to make working closely more pleasureable?
BLUF: When in Rome, be a Roman.
What are they into? What do they read? What do they talk about? Where do they go for lunch?
Watch and listen to find out what your new colleagues are interested in. Then cultivate an awareness, pick up the lingo and show an interest. I'm not saying that you need to become a 3leet HaX0r d00D. Just learn to communicate with them the way they communicate with each other. If you see that they tend to read certain magazines then read a few issues. If they spend half their lunch hour on, say, Slashdot or the Register then take a look yourself.
In DISC terms, techies trend towards High-C with some High-D thrown in. Listen to the casts on DISC to pick up how to interact with those types.
Above all, fit in.
Early on it's the getting to
Early on it's the getting to know you phase. Make it easy...tell them about yourself. I try to be a little vulnerable and open to them. Ask questions about what they are doing and do it without offering feedback of any sort. Be a student. Asking someone to teach you is very sincere flattery. You said that tech is not your area, they will know this as soon as you open your mouth. Why not just have out with it and ask them to teach you? I figure it's better to learn honestly and be respected for it than to try to fake it and have them laugh at your efforts.
What is your role?
Your role on this team is an important part of the story. Somehow, your work must mesh with theirs. Use this as an opportunity to find out what they're thinking.
BTW, have you listened to the podcast on how to be effective in everyday conversations?
Hmmm a toughy
I think the earlier suggestions about reading the kind of mags/webpages/blogs the team does is a good idea - but for heaven's sake don't try and be smart about it in conversation.
A whimsical example would be
"Wow guys did you see the article about the savings from combined heat and power units?"
"Yeah, I mean they're clearly making huge assumptions about the cycle that's being used"
Ooooof......there end's the conversation until they're at the water cooler and you'll be a laughing stock.
You ought to be doing it to try and empathise with them, get inside their heads and understand their way of thinking - the DISC model is a very good place to start.
Best suggestion I can
Best suggestion I can think of - ask lots of questions and not just about work related stuff. If you want to fit in, you have to fit into their way of doing things; if they all follow the Office, you're going to want to watch a few shows. If they're into World of Warcraft...well, make you best judgement as to playing, but at least read up a little on the news of what is happening in their lives. Otherwise, they won't just treat you as an outsider, you'll BE an outsider.
Stephan nailed it - above all, Fit In!
Fitch, by cultivate an
by cultivate an awareness, pick up the lingo and show an interest I was thinking more along the lines of getting familiar with how they communicate and the language they use. That way if they start talking about a garbage collection problem you'll know to get clarification as to whether they're talking about a software problem or how someone needs to call janitorial services about emptying the bin in the server room because it's overflowing with pizza boxes and empty Jolt cans.
Five words, and we're done here.
Show an interest in them.
Her are some things I would DO
You asked for things you can DO:
1. Invite someone to lunch. "Want to go to lunch?"
2. Offer to pick up coffee. "Going to get coffee. Anybody want something?"
3. Offer to help. "You guys need help with anything?"
4. Ask how they're doing. Sit next to them at a meeting, lean over and say, "how was your weekend?"
5. Complement them. "Nice comment about X in the meeting."
6. Express social agreement about a widely agreed upon topic. "Can you believe they're cutting Project X? Makes no sense to me."
7. Come in early to do this stuff, so that conversations have a chance to develop. "Morning. How's it going."
8. Ask for advice about non-tech stuff. "You guys have any idea about how to get the maintenance guys to fix a desk?" "Anyone recommend a good place for lunch near the satellite office location?"
9. Ask for help on tech stuff. "Anybody know how to do X?"
10. Ask for their input on your projects, like pre-wiring (see our cast thereon) but without the formality. "Would you take a look at what I've got here? You know how some others will respond."
11. Inquire about their families. "I'm sorry, I've forgotten your kids' names."
12. Ask about their work. "Can you explain more about that detail X from your briefing on Project Y in the meeting?"
And, shame on you, HMac ;-) "Five words and we're done here."??? Ouch!
Mark: Thanks for bringing life and detail to my five words ;-). Your examples are great and...well....actionable.
I am a touch confused
Merasmus... are you saying you returned to this environment and worked there previously? If yes, what did you do previously to get along with the people there?
PS - and HMac, can I give you some feedback? (pretending we are talking one-on-one and that I have spent months on positive feedback for you). When you give five-word answers as compared to your usual clear and concise responses, you set yourself up as comic fodder for the Horstman. Horstman rule # 34 - Don't set me up. Now what do you think you can do differently? ;)
I'm just a n00b
I echo the previous responses regarding just doing basic things to build a relationship, as well as knowing your D.I.S.C. profiles.
The MT Communications Conference here in San Antonio, TX saved my life with the D.I.S.C. activities. I went back and was able to immediately connect with my technical staff. Day one back from the conference I walked into the room and said, "So...Umbuntu...what is that? I want to buy a Netbook maybe. Who can tell a noob about Umbuntu?" It was a genuine question, but my frame of mind NOW was to capitalize on building a professional relationship instead of, "someone tell me what I need to do....ok, thanks...move along." I observe, analyze and tailor my approaches and responses to them with more consistency.
D.I.S.C. awareness with my technical staff has since lead to a needed change in leadership, an increase in our Net Promoter Score for that department, and new relationships built on genuine respect for each other.
It's not perfect, but it's much better.