I think if you had asked me this 20 years ago I would have said yes, but that yes would be based on the position that if you gave me work I would get it done, I’d communicate the status good or bad, I’d bring plenty of ideas to the table, and that I would do my best to help the team win. Aren’t those the attributes of a good employee, someone that is easy to work with?
Yes. It’s just not all of them. I’ve worked on and with a lot of teams. Skills always matter, but after that I’ve come to value the people that are pleasant to work with. They’ve learned that the perfect is the enemy of the good, that some projects require inelegant solutions, and that there is a way to surface concerns that leads to solutions rather than argument. It’s an intangible, but it’s not hard to spot. Take a look at your team, I bet you can easily point to those that are easy to work with and those that aren’t.
Being easy to work with requires seeing the world from more than just your view point and that isn’t easy. It certainly requires practice. One way I’ve found to teach the concept is to ask someone to imagine that they’ve hired someone just like them for their team. Would they want to manage that person?
Today I work harder at being able to say yes. I think twice before complaining about minor things. I try to think about why whoever I work for wants it done that way and whether doing it differently is substance or just style. I won’t say I always achieve it, but I work at it, and I think it makes me more valuable and more valued.
Pour some coffee and think about it for a few minutes, then quietly poll your co-workers and the boss. Are you easy to work with? And if not, what do you need to change to get there?