Career Radar: Working With Peers
In the workplace, you are going to meet your peers. They are folks who are in your age group, on the same management cadre, have similar job titles, and same office locations. Peer relationships are relations with individuals working on the same level of the organizational hierarchy with no formal authority over each other.
What that means is that you show your real self before them (peers). In the formal sense of it, there is nothing to gain to deliver quality work to them. However, this is not true because excellence is a habit. You demonstrate it not only with your superiors but with your peers. The guy/lady that is always on time, will do it when he is working with the boss or when he is working with the janitor. His punctuality is regardless of whom is involved.
Peers have their pecks. They can be your confidants, friends, and co-labourers at work. You can let your hair down before them. They provide psychological safety. In a world where workplace loneliness is a rising epidemic, having great peers at work makes work and life easier. Let me give you some stats that may corroborate this fact. We are working longer hours, deadlines are getting shorter and customers want what they want now, working is become tiring with mental health issues arising. In the UK, about nine million people (about the population of London) are feeling lonely at work. In South East Asia especially in Japan and South Korea, about thirty thousand people die of loneliness yearly. You can see that having folks to “do life and work with” is great.
Peers can also give you feedback about work habits that they notice. Most times it is not formal. Take their feedback seriously because they are basically relaying the actions that come from your habits. Most times since they have no formal authority, it is easy for their feedback (which is a gift) to be ignored.
In all you do, do not take your workplace peers or contemporaries for granted. Their say about you is powerful. And they can be easily believed because folks would know that they know you more than any other set or group in the office. Your peers’ testimony of your character and work ethic are powerful. This is because your peers are those that are comfortable with you and hence you display your best and worst attributes before them.
All in all, never ever take your peers for granted.
When people have friends at work who support and celebrate their achievements, they feel a greater sense of satisfaction towards their work and love their job. “People who have friends at work are 27 percent more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important.” Inadvertently, they work harder and motivate those around them to do the same. A peer culture that supports, challenges, encourages, and helps each other to thrive will surely improve the company’s entire work culture. In other words, people are more likely to leave the employ of a company because of the culture of the organization, which is most times transmitted by their peers at work.
Peers are a two-edged sword. They are allies and they can also weaken your support level. How you relate with them determines what outcomes, you will get. They can help you achieve your goals but they can also spread stories of your incompetency to your team/subordinates. Most times, this is done when they think you were promoted over your capacity. This can come from a place of jealousy, anger, or a sense of injustice. I hope you are not surprised about this. It is a natural consequence of working with people, many emotions come to play. It does not also mean that those peers are horrible people; they are only interpreting a situation in front of them.
When your peers are your allies, you will go places. Your job is to win their respect by demonstrating what you can do. Bring your best to the table. Add some personal touch and humanity when working with people.
The nail in the coffin of your career is when your contemporaries/peers feel you are not a team player. Feelings become said words. Spoken words develop wings and fly uninhibited. Unfortunately, that feeling of you not being a team player is corroborated here and then and becomes your reality. When that echo rises to the top, management does not like that report. This is because when you get there (promoted into management), na only human being you go manage. If you cannot work with humans, who will get the job done?
Most times your superiors require the testament of your peers before they can work with you or assign important work to you. It is mostly not done formally. It is in the side talk, chit chats, and lunch gist. So if you do build rapport and work with your peers, what will they say, when that time come?
Managing up is the process of deliberately working with your boss to obtain the best possible organizational goals. The results can get you a promotion, recognition, and appreciation. This is easier to deal with as compared to managing your peers. This is because you have an idea of what your boss wants (OKRs, KPIs, Task and Target etc) but managing your peers is tricky because there is nothing really to gain nor a measurement matrix. You will not be openly celebrated for helping a colleague.
However, while there is no direct gain from working with peers, they provide the bedrock for networking. Your peers are the ones that you can easily network with. You need to build bridges with them long before you will need them. They are future leaders and will be placed in strategic places in the near future. Your relationship with them will birth what is next for you in your career. Friendship and work relationships built on a peer basis are not easily dismantled. This is where loyalty is bred because everyone knows everyone’s capacity and capability.
Your peers also can easily run you down. Assuming you found your way to the top by working only with the top and did not build a solid foundation and relationship with your peers, your reign will be short, But if it is long, it will be frustrating. This is because, when you lead and they do not respect you, you will not have their support. Most times, this is not planned. You are reaping what you sowed.
Managing peers is important. One needs to collaborate with peers to get work done and remain effective in an organization. You cannot get results without collaboration and without working with cross-functional teams. That means you have to develop the skills of interpersonal skills and the ability to manage the quirks and idiosyncrasies, of people that are talented enough to provide the required results. There are some peers that you will struggle to connect with, talkless of work with. However, irrespective of what you think of them, everyone knows they are skilled in an aspect of the business. You have to devise ways to work with them because YOU NEED THEM. Either working through proxies or finding a middle ground of where your interests intersect.
“Everyone’s had a taste of managing across teams while working in groups but this skill becomes essential when you are part of a management team. The success of an organization depends on how well the management team works together or in other words, how well it manages across. The ways to manage peers are different from the ones used for your supervisees and supervisors. These include setting mutually beneficial goals; establishing one's credibility, persuasion skills, and the ability to tap into one's network. The skill needed to strengthen management across is emotional intelligence: Self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. This will help better understand ones own–and others'–priorities, pressures, and work styles.”
Managing across the organization is important to increase your power in your organization. Most times, it is done via your peers. It tests your ability to build trust and influence organizational power with your colleagues. Working with your peers is important. They are your lieutenants of the future and allies to win several corporate battles in the future. You need them, so build great relationships across board.
You will need your peers.
You will need the relationship.
In the month of November 2022, I and a few fellas would be handling career sessions and sharing what we know, have seen, and have lived out. The aim will be to give you a headstart or enable thee to course correct, if necessary.
Topics would include extensive conversations on :
§ Starting Your Career
§ Stages of Career
§ Career boosters
§ The changing face of work
§ Soft Skills
§ Technical Mastery
§ Managing Up & Down — Bosses, Peers & Subordinates
§ Office Politics & Me
§ The Knowledge Economy
§ Career Blindspot
§ Remote Work, Flexiwork & Me
§ Transiting to Entrepreneurship
I will be holding a weekly seminar on the topic — “Managing Your Career In The Digital & Knowledge Economy”. Would you want to be a part of it?