Today, I want to write a post about working with your Army peers. This is “one of those things” that few people talk about, even though it’s a very important topic.
As I see it, it’s pretty easy to lead your team of followers, and it’s pretty easy to do what your boss tells you to do, but sometimes working with your peers can be challenging, especially if you are the same rank. Sometimes there are personality conflicts, differences in values, and differences in opinion. This can lead to stress, tension, low morale, and poor work performance.
I look back at my military career and wish I would have done a much better job working with my peers. I didn’t do bad or damage any relationships or try to screw anyone over. But, I could have done more to support them, help them, and build a good relationship with them.
Listed below I want to share eight tips for getting along with your Army peers and building a strong working relationship. This information is for Soldiers, NCOs and Officers alike.
# 1 Build Friendships with Your Peers
You really can’t build a friendship with your boss or your subordinates, but you can build frienships with your peers. And you should. You should get to know them, find out what they bring to the table, and cultivate good relationships. This can lead go more job satisfaction and sense of belonging. Spend some time together and get to know them as a person, not just a Soldier. Let’s face it, we can all use more friends and alliances!
# 2 Try to Help Everyone
Your peers are not the competition. You really should do what you can to help them become successful. If they need help, help them (as long as it doesn’t keep you from doing your job). If you know one of your peers is weak in a certain area, and you’re good in that area, go the extra mile to help them out. We are all part of a team and we should all support each other. Be a team player.
# 3 Establish Trust
Good working relationships are based upon mutual trust and respect. Make sure that you do what you say you are going to do. Don’t lie or mislead your peers. Show them that you are a team player and that you are a person of your word. Without trust, nothing else really matters.
# 4 Have Fun Together
When possible, have fun together. Have cookouts and fun events. Get your families together. Try to make work fun. Create a little “friendly” competition between your sections or units. We could all benefit from having more fun at work and in life.
# 5 Think Long Term
In case you don’t realize this already, there’s a good chance that one of your peers might one day be your boss! Never ruin a relationship or burn a bridge. It can definitely come back and haunt you! You should also realize that there is a good chance that the two of you will work together again in the future. Always keep the long-term view.
# 6 Focus on Their Strengths
No one is good at everything. You’re not and neither am I. Don’t focus on what your peers are bad at. Instead, focus on on their good qualities. Everyone has good qualities, if you’re willing to look for them. Learn to leverage each other’s strengths and work together when you can.
# 7 Think of Things from Their Perspective
You probably already realize that everyone is different. No two people are exactly alike. Accept your differences with your peers and put yourself in their shoes from time-to-time. It’s easy to only think of things from our own paradigm, but sometimes you need to step back and think of things from the other person’s perspective. This is what good friends do with each other.
# 8 Always Put the Unit First
Always keep the goals and objectives of the unit (and your Soldiers) first. When it’s not about YOU, it’s easy to get along with others. Let your peers know that you want the unit (and them) to be successful!
The bottom line is that we can all do a better job when it comes to working with our peers. We should all follow the advice outlined in this article so we can build strong working relationships with our peers. This will lead to improve morale, more job fulfillment, better performance and better job satisfaction.
What are your thoughts? What do you do and recommend to get along with your peers? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts. I look forward to hearing from you.
Former Army Major (resigned)
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6 thoughts on “Top 8 Tips for Working with Your Army Peers”
I also wanted to add that we can learn how to work with peers much easier by studying the sales profession. As a salesman/telemarketer, I learned that finding common ground with a person helps build a trust from them. If they realize you are more like them than they think, they will respect you more. What I mean is something like if there dog died, your cat died. I believe you get the point. Just talk with your peers and find common ground.
Good point about finding common ground. I think that is sage advice.
Some people can be very difficult. If you have my kind of “luck” you will get several peers that do things that just rub you raw. I have learned to just realize that everyone is different. We all have flaws, and usually we don’t see what we are doing to rub them the wrong way. We were raised differently, maybe different cultures all together, and we have to accept that fact. I found that if I look for the good in a person, I will find it, so that is what I do. That is how teams win.
Ain’t that the truth. Everyone is very different. Learning how to see things from the other person’s perspective is very important.
Working with your peers might be one of the most challenging aspects of any work environment. You mentioned a lot of the things that might keep you apart and really, the thinking tends to be that if you would not be friends with that person in life outside of work, why should you try within work because it will probably just cause a lot of head-butting anyway. This is partially false. If we look to the good in everyone, even the biggest jerk there (this ties into playing up their strengths), we can find something to be friendly about. Chances are, that by trying to see from someone else’s POV, there will be just a smidgen of common ground, at least enough to gain trust and work together for the betterment of the unit. The trick is to not let people walk on you and I think your mention of as long as you can still do your job, fixes that issue pretty neatly. My only question is if you become friendly with a peer and then that peer becomes your boss, how should your friendly relationship change to be appropriate to your new military relationship?
Any time we have to work with other people things can get complicated and difficult. The key is to work on your people skills, focus on what you can control, and be a team player. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned.