friendsSometimes people have an expectation that when you work together as a team, everyone needs to be friends — buddies who go out and do things together outside of work time. Many teams do function like that, and that’s fine if it works. But not all teams have to function like that.

You actually don’t need to be friends to work together well. To be a good functioning team, what you really need is respect. A team environment that recognizes the strengths of each person and their contributions to the overall success of the mission.

Respect is more fundamental for functioning well as a team. You make your contribution; they make theirs. You affirm one another, are considerate of one another, and communicate with one another. You inviting people to help you and you offer to help them, deferring to one another when appropriate. In your area of strength, you humbly come alongside others. You clarify expectations, and deal with conflict as it emerges. Those are just good human relationship skills, regardless of friendship or personally affinity.

friendsWhat do you expect in a team? What comes first: getting the job done well or friendship? If it is friendship, you may or may not be getting the necessary work done. In some cases, you may be avoiding the difficult conversations because you value the relationship more. If you need to increase the respect on your team, see this previous blog entry for an exercise I have found helpful.

Good working relationships might lead to friendship, but friendship doesn’t always lead to a good working relationship.