Many people view their careers as an individual effort, but for the vast majority of professionals that is just not how careers work. People by and large work in teams, and have career success through relationships–by learning from mentors and forming partnerships with colleagues to accomplish goals together.
This isn’t an accident, it’s how human beings are wired. Humans do not function well in isolation. Isolation has been linked to such maladies as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cigarette smoking, obesity, and lack of exercise. Partnerships, meanwhile, have the opposite effect. According to one of my favorite books, Rodd Wagner and Gale Muller’s The Power of 2: How to Make the Most of Your Partnerships at Work and In Life:
The more good partnerships you have in your life, the more likely you are to say that you experienced the feeling of enjoyment much of the day yesterday, that you recently learned something interesting, and that you’ve been doing a lot of smiling and laughing – all key measures of your happiness. Even having one strong partnership increases your well-being over those who have none…In the workplace, employees with just one collaborative relationship are 29 percent more likely to say they will stay with their company for the next year and 42 percent more likely to intend to remain with their current employer for their entire career, compared to those with no partnerships. Those who feel well-teamed with one or more colleagues are substantially more engaged at work. They generate higher customer scores and better safety, retention, creativity, productivity, and profitability for the business – and a greater level of happiness for themselves…When asked how many strong alliances they have, most people say they have just a few, even though the highest levels of happiness and employee engagement kick in when a person has 5 to 10 good alliances.
You should always be seeking out successful partnerships. Be strategic; don’t partner with just anyone. When networking, always have an eye open for who might be your next great partner. Once you’ve found a partnership, take care to ensure you are meeting these eight elements that Wagner and Muller identified as essential components of not just good partnerships but great ones:
- Complementary strengths.
- A common mission