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10 tips on how to get to know your team members at work

A man and a woman chat while drinking coffee outside an office building.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

We spend a lot of time working, which also means we spend a lot of time with our teammates. Whether you work in an office setting or a remote environment, getting to know the people on your team and throughout your organization is critical because it builds a sense of trust, cooperation and collaboration.  

You can get to know your team members at work by understanding more about each individual’s background and personality. Continue reading for my 10 do’s and don'ts when it comes to learning more about those you work with.

10 pieces of insight on how to get to know your coworkers better

1. Do: Start slow with small talk.

A simple "Hello," and “How was your weekend?” goes a long way. Having a few simple conversation starters can break the ice and help maintain good working relationships.

Asking questions like, “Did you do anything fun last night?” and “Any fun plans for the evening?” are great places to start.

2. Don't: Get pulled into office gossip and negativity. 

Complaining about work or other team members can easily lead to a toxic work environment. Plus, you never know if word will get back to the coworker you talked negatively about – which would create a very uncomfortable situation and make you look extremely unprofessional.

Always focus your conversations on you and the person you’re talking with, even if you notice those around you talking negatively about work or others on the team.

3. Do: Take the conversation beyond small talk.

Once you’re comfortable with moving past the small talk, you can learn more about your coworkers by asking about hobbies they enjoy, sports teams they cheer for and vacation spots they love to travel to. Plus, you may find you have common interests and have more to discuss in the future.

If you’re unsure how to take the conversation beyond a simple, “How are you?” and “How was your weekend,” I recommend trying out some of the below questions to ask your coworkers:

Questions to ask new coworkers:

Here are a few questions to ask someone who’s new to the team.

  • What is your job title?
  • What was your previous role?
  • How long have you been working here?
  • What does your day-to-day look like?
  • What's your preferred working style?
  • What's your favorite task at work?

Fun questions:

These are good questions to ask your coworkers over a work lunch or a coffee in the breakroom.

  • Where's your favorite place to travel?
  • What's your favorite thing to do outside of work?
  • Do you have any pets?
  • What's your favorite movie?
  • What's something you want to learn more about?
  • Who was your role model growing up?
  • Do you have any secret skills or talents?

Business-oriented questions:

The following are questions to ask someone during networking events or to your leader during one-on-ones.

  • How did you get into this industry?
  • How do you stay motivated?
  • What are your professional goals?
  • What's your preferred working style?
  • Did you always know you wanted this career?
  • What's your top professional accomplishment?

4. Don't: Pry.

A conversation with a coworker or friend shouldn’t feel like an interrogation.

Always be respectful of others when asking questions and don’t get too pushy. If your team member is obviously uncomfortable with or reluctant to answer one of your questions, let it go and turn the conversation to focus on something else.

5. Do: Join a network within your organization.

Not only are networking groups, like Schneider’s Women’s Network, great opportunities to further your knowledge about the overall organization and meet other people from throughout the company, but it’s a chance to spend more time with your coworkers outside of your everyday tasks.

Talk to your leader about networking groups at the organization you work at and see how you can join one.

6. Don't: Ask questions that are inappropriate for work.

Avoid asking anything that could be offensive, like topics related to religion, money and politics. Remember, you are in a work setting and everyone should feel safe and comfortable.

Focus on finding common ground on less polarizing topics, like hobbies and interests.

7. Do: Invite people to do things outside of work.

If your team members get together outside the office, make an effort to go along. Showing up for even a short time gives you a fantastic opportunity to bond with team members and get to know them on a different level.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to be the one to coordinate an after-work get-together. Send an email to the entire team to set up a dinner, or during your next team meeting, ask if anyone is interested in an activity like bowling or going to live music.

8. Don't: Ask questions at the wrong time.

Asking your coworkers personal questions is perfect for relaxed moments in the office or over a cup of coffee in a break room. However, asking team members to share their personal information in the middle of meetings or when they're busy working can be inappropriate and uncomfortable.

9. Do: Remember you coworkers' responses.

If you're going to invest time and energy into getting to know your team members, remember what they said to you.

Focus on the conversation and find ways to remember a spouse's name or the fact that your team member plays softball. It demonstrates your sincerity and, in turn, builds trust and comradery. 

10. Don't: Create a work atmosphere that's uninviting.

Above all, focus on creating a positive, welcoming work environment. Work will be a more enjoyable experience if you lead with kindness and sincerity.

If you make an effort to be friendly and open to those you work with, they’ll most-likely act the same way toward you.

Why does getting to know your coworkers matter?

Non-business conversations have real business benefits. As you get to know your team members, productivity increases, and the team is more effective because you start to understand the strengths and passions of each individual.  

Additionally, team camaraderie develops when the lines of communication open. Everyone on the team is more mindful of how they interact with one another, and a sense of mutual respect grows.  

Once you and your coworkers have built trusting relationships, the entire team enjoys work more and can better support one another.

Struggling to work up the nerve to talk to your coworkers?

It’s common to feel nervous in the workplace. If you’re often shy around your teammates or leader, check out these six tips on how to be more confident at work.

About the author
Author Picture

Kathy joined Schneider in 2021 as a Corporate Recruiter who responsible for hiring successful Inside Sellers and Freight Brokers at the Green Bay STM location. She’s been in recruiting since her graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point in 2013. Kathy is a competitive marathon runner and loves attending concerts, baking and cooking.

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