Groups of friends outperform groups of acquaintances.

Friends are committed to one another’s success.

You may disagree and occasionally argue, but family is always family. And for this particular bank, family stays.

Recently, I was working on a rebrand for a client and, while talking to key staff in all of their branches, was amazed by the number of people who have worked at the bank more than a dozen years.  Many, had been there more than 20!

This is amazing in our “3-and-Out Society.”

When you’re up to bat, you get three strikes and you’re out. When your football team is driving, they get three and out. At work, you get three years in and move on.

No one wins in a 3-and-out culture. Its three strikes then back to the bench. Or three downs and punt. You simply can’t score that way.

So how do we avoid three and out at work, when its often easier to move out than move up. When the days of “the company man” are over. Where my father is a dinosaur for starting and retiring from GM and my father-in-law from NCR … and Cal Ripkin from the Orioles for that matter. It simply doesn’t happen.

Adam Grant, in a recent New York Times article suggests that a significant factor may simply be friendships.

His article states that in 1985 about half of Americans said that they have a close friend at work, in 2004 that number plummeted to only 30%. Only 32% of us invite close colleagues to our homes!

Additionally, a poll of high school seniors shows that they are devaluing workplace friendship over time.

“It’s important to find a job where I can make friends”
     ~ 1976: 54%
    ~  1991: 48%
     ~ 2006: 41%

This is soooo stinkin’ sad! In any given week, we spend roughly 36% of our waking hours at work. More time, often, than we spend with our families.

Grant’s article sights research that supports two significant points:

  1. Groups of friends outperform groups of acquaintances in both decision-making and effort tasks.  
  2. When friends work together, they’re more trusting and committed to one another’s success.

If you want better customer interactions … build friendships

If you want more referrals between departments … build friendships

If you want more profitability … build friendships

It’s not just warm-fuzzy marketing and HR crap … its business.

So, how do you nurture deeper relationships in the office and branches? How do we become more like Parks and Rec or The Office?

  • Have corporate-wide functions and encourage mingling between different locations.
  • Sponsor company teams like softball or bowling.
  • Participate in causes like the American Cancer Society Relay for Life. Don’t just collect money, but get behind events where people need to work together and spend time.
  • Encourage day-to-day interaction in “community areas” like lunchrooms.
  • Celebrate personal and professional victories every day.

In my brand report, I described my client as, “12 individual offices that work as separate family units. Responsible and caring to those immediate to them but mindful of the larger family as a whole. Work events are like a family reunion where several smaller tighter units gather as a collective.”

You may disagree and occasionally argue, but family is always family. And for this particular bank, family stays.

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