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Friend-Building for the unexpected

Do you work in an office with crazy surprises everyday? 


In a great piece in the Harvard Business Review How to Prepare for a Crisis You Couldn't possibly Predict, author Chris Clearfield points out an interesting finding from a new research paper on SWAT teams and Movie Crews: 

" critical factor that enables these teams to handle surprises is that members are familiar with everyone else’s work and understand how their various tasks fit together."

Teams are able to respond to problems and surprises when they understand the role that everyone else plays. Yet how could your company achieve this, if your employees are still stuck in Abe Lincoln Land? Still holding on to past misunderstandings or slight grievances that keep them from actually learning about their co-workers and what role they play.  

If only they got to know each other a bit better, with a culture nudge from your company, maybe they could see how much they have in common. 

But maybe they also could see the problems and opportunities that they both deal with on a daily basis. They could understand what role each person plays, so that when "stuff" starts hitting the fan, on a day no one planned for, or on a last minute project, maybe they know exactly who to go to for help or advice. 

Maybe that help and advice is even easier, because they aren't stuck as co-workers, who barely can remember each other's names, let alone each other's nudge-talents and dreams.

Building Social Capital through friend-building is not just some bonus to achieve at the end of the day. It's not a cherry on top of a delicious "office culture cake."

In a crisis, it is the cake. 

Teams that like and know each other, and have moved into the friendship phase, will run through walls for you, and deal with the stress of running through those walls much better. 

And on a day where it all goes wrong, knowing what roles everyone plays, and understanding those roles on a deeper level than just a job title or org chart, may end up saving your butt. 

That Friend-Building Office Olympiad that you don't think you have time to throw could be the thing that saves the day when an unexpected crisis hits. 


Shawn Madden