TCG 411: Do Unto Designers

Building Good Karma at Work

By Donna Farrugia, Executive Director of The Creative Group

In my last post, I discussed the importance of getting along with “problem colleagues.” Today, I want to focus on things you can do to not just troubleshoot sour relationships but rather proactively build positive coworker bonds.

If you want to succeed on the job, you need the support and respect of your colleagues. After all, you never know when you’ll be asked to partner with someone on a project or need an extra hand to meet a tight deadline. Having good relationships at work also makes it more pleasant to be at the office. Here are some ways to build good karma at work:

  • Be cordial. Your reputation isn’t formed solely by the quality of your creative work; your attitude also factors in. Smiling and greeting those you pass in the halls is an easy way to project a friendly and positive attitude. Other small actions, like opening the door and holding the elevator for coworkers can go a long way.
  • Offer a helping hand. It’s certainly nice to take a quick breather between assignments, but if you notice a coworker stressing out over a big project while you’re kicking back, offer to give him or her a hand. Your colleague will remember your gesture the next time you need assistance.
  • Volunteer for “dirty work.” Sure, it might not be a lot of fun, but if you offer to help with tasks others consider undesirable, you’ll develop a reputation as a team player. Plus, these types of projects are sometimes near and dear to a manager’s heart, and stepping up can be a good way to distinguish yourself in your supervisor’s eyes.
  • Be aware of your annoying habits. Do your best to avoid irritating your coworkers, especially if you work in an open environment. For example, if you like to listen to music at your desk, use headphones. Avoid using your speakerphone unless absolutely necessary; it can make it hard for others to concentrate. And, if you like to have tuna salad or other pungent foods for lunch, don’t eat at your desk.
  • Invite the new hire to lunch. Remember how you felt on your first day in the office, not knowing anyone and wondering about everything from where the office supplies were located to how to use the color printer? Help out a new colleague by inviting him or her to lunch or coffee so you can explain the unwritten rules of the office and answer any questions he or she has. Chances are, this small act of kindness will be remembered.
  • Recognize people’s efforts. This may be the most important rule of all. When a coworker helps you out or makes your job easier, say thanks. If his or her efforts were outstanding, let the boss know. Your colleagues will be much more likely to assist you on your next project if you made them feel good about their work on the last one.

One final piece of advice: Remember the Golden Rule when interacting with others in the office. Treating people as you’d like to be treated will help ensure you build a reputation as a pleasant, helpful colleague.

Donna Farrugia is executive director of The Creative Group, a specialized staffing service placing creative, advertising, marketing and web professionals with a variety of firms. More information, including online job-hunting services, candidate portfolios and The Creative Group’s award-winning career magazine, can be found at

3 thoughts on “TCG 411: Do Unto Designers

  1. andy

    I agree with most of these tips except the volunteer for dirty work one. What do you do when your company takes advantage of you and it seems like you’re always doing the dirty work? My coworker and I have stopped volunteering for things all together because it was affecting our normal work load and we felt like all we were doing was other people’s work. It became expected that we would work on things, which then felt like we weren’t being recognized for helping out. It just isn’t worth it to maybe be recognized by your manager to be taken advantage of.

    1. dc

      I agree with Andy also. That one stuck out to me as an invitation to be taken advantage of. I have watched one of the designers volunteer for the dirty task and now he is known as the nice guy (read push-over) who will do the work and people pile all the dirty work on him. Now the designer is frustrated because he gets all the crap stuff along with his normal workload and very little appreciation from those he is doing the dirty work for, and alot of grief because he is missing his normal deadlines. Unfortunately, people will take advantage.

  2. gg

    I agree with Andy! I volunteered with the dirty work, took lots of stuff off other people’s plates and now I work more hours that anyone and hate my life. No one takes anything back off my plate.

    This only works if other people are giving back.