February 10, 2010

Building Workplace Relationships By Overcoming Prejudices

We need to create effective relationships in our organizations to make sure we get the best from all of our people. Managers will always have the opportunity to interact with their people, yet sometimes, there are times to step back and see what might be getting in the way.

It’s inevitable.

We ‘get on’ well with some people better than others. Those who we seem to create a rapport with easily, are always most likely to be those we turn to when we want some form of interaction.

Our natural characteristics are formed through our lives and are such that we have peculiarities that create our own very personal natures.

When we are living our informal lives (away from the workplace), we acan afford to pick and choose who we spend our time with. Naturally, where we can, we like to enjoy the company we get most pleasure from, so, on that basis, we decide who to be with and when.

In the workplace, it isn’t so easy. Of course we can recruit people who we are more likely to get on well with – those who we have an immediate liking for – and that’s a natural way to be.

When we have people in our teams where we find they are quite different to us in some way or other, or they don’t resonate with us in some way, there is a natural tendency to be more distant with them, because there is less of that natural rapport.

This is all quite logical and can go a long way to explain why there are differences in our behaviors around some people rather than others.

When we manage others and we seek to build workplace relationships, we need to be a bit smarter than this.

Our natural tendencies are all well and good when we socialize outside work, but we need to have everyone on board when we are developing a team that will generate results for us.

It’s important therefore, when we manage and lead others, to have the capacity to stand back and be dispassionate about those we work closely with.

Taking the time to recognize the real value everyone brings to the party is vital – and that means there will be some in the team who you aren’t that similar to. Some whose character is less aligned to you than you are with others.

The natural prejudice you show to gather people around you who you get on well with is understandable and indeed is psychologically designed to protect you from harm. Guided by experiences you’ve had in your life at some time, you push away from some people who have similarities to those with whom you perhaps had a difficult experience.

In work, by acknowledging and working through such internal prejudices (which are often going unnoticed by you), you are likely draw into your team people (and develop those already there) who have much to offer, thus creating a whole new set of resources that you might otherwise have missed out on.

They won’t harm you. They will bring new perspectives into the team which, if you let them, will significantly add value.

By overcoming your personal prejudices and going out of your way to build useful relationships with individuals you might have spent less time with in the past, you are making your team much more effective and that is a vital component on the road to success.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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