March 13, 2010

Effective Workplace Relationships – External Influences

There is value in ensuring that the interaction between a manager or supervisor is effective. Both sides have much to gain.

Although this would seem to be a relationship between two individuals, who else might be involved?

When managers work closely with team members, the exciting relationship that builds is value-creating on both sides.

Greater productivity and performance being the most likely outcomes for the manager, whilst career development and a much better working experience for an employee – just two examples for each that can come from working well together.

There are challenges enough for those two to get together productively, with both sides needing to have the intention to succeed in how they interact, as well as being able to work to come closer together to create the right environment.

That said, theirs will not be the only influences that will come to bear, despite this seemingly being a one-to-one relationship. We are all shaped by our whole environment and it’s likely that these ‘external’ influences will need consideration and the working relationship progresses.

So, just who could be implicated in how two people interact, apart from those individuals themselves? Here are some possibilities:-

Family and Friends

This can present some of the most difficult challenges.

In such cases, employees can be influenced into working in certain ways by others who, variously, may not have the full picture; will have had very different work experiences; and ultimately, just be unwilling to go half way to work well with other people, especially managers who are trying hard to make things work better.

Managers need to acknowledge such pressures and ensure that whatever they do to make workplace relationships better, the external influences can be very robust. It’s not to give up on at all, indeed these workplace experiences might be a breath of fresh air to the person they are trying to be creative with. It might take time.

Having a consistent approach with all team members will help, so that those facing this particular issue will be encouraged to overcome other prejudices, to dig in and take the risk of trying on better working relationships with supervisors or managers.

Other Colleagues

When two individuals are working together to build a better working relationship, this can be influenced by the shared perceptions of others in the team.

This is usually caused by fear and other emotions, like jealousy or frustration and more.

Managers need to watch for the reluctance of individuals to get more involved. By ensuring that everyone in the team gets the same treatment, this issue usually resolves itself.

Other Line Managers

Managers are frequently encouraged to work in some bizarre ways by their colleagues, who might have experiences that are set in quite different circumstances and with different people and situations involved.

Managers need to understand that they will create relationships best, when they are being at their most authentic with themselves and not feel obliged to ‘do it their way’.

Being able to stand up and develop their own strategies takes courage and, from time to time, the occasional failure. this is all part of management self-development and is a very worthwhile exercise!

External Business Contacts

There may be times where the impact of other business contacts can affect the way that managers get on with their team.

Sometimes such extraneous influences can be hard to pick up on and adjust in favor of your own activities.

The key here is to be good at creating good working relationships with all of your people, all of the time, so that anyone affected by external influencers can see that the ‘home way’ is best and then they are likely to gradually fall in line.

These are a few of the possibilities – and there may be more. The key element here is to remember that whilst two individuals might wish to create a much more positive working relationship, there will be underlying and sometimes even unconscious thought processes that can take time to overcome.

Great working relationships are hugely valuable, not just to a manager who can get more out of their team, but, when working well, to each single individual who is on the other side of the desk, in the personal reward and development, not to mention exciting and motivating work, that they can experience too.

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

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February 16, 2010

Employee Relationships – What is Responsibility

Responsibility is fast becoming a lost art in the business worlds in which we exist today.

When managers take responsibility for creating valuable relationships with their people, there are many opportunities to be had.

But what is responsibility?

Whilst relationships between individuals requires attention on both sides, with managers and employees there is a drive more from the side most likely to benefit – and that is the management side in terms of the business value, whilst it is also in the interests of employees where there are benefits for them too (such as career progression and skills development, as examples).

It is really worth taking some time to understand what ‘accountability’ and responsibility’ are in this manager/employee context, so that a clear picture can be drawn to show what needs to be done.

There are two defining descriptions that need to be addressed here, ‘accountability’ and ‘responsibility’. Whilst these two words might seem to be very similar, there is a difference when managing employees is concerned.

Accountability is for someone – usually a manager in a business or organization – where ‘the buck stops’. As a manager you are the person ultimately ‘accountable’ for all sorts of required outcomes in your part of the organization.

Responsibility is one level lower, where as managers we delegate the ‘responsibility’ for an action to someone else, enabling them to be the person who delivers that part of an overall ‘accountability’.

We are ‘accountable’ for the delivery of something and we delegate parts of this to others who are ‘responsible’ for the activities they need to take to complete their part of the overall ‘something’.

We, as managers, take on accountabilities that the organization requires us to deliver to provide the returns that they, their stockholders and any other stakeholders want and need to be successful. We, in turn, break down these ‘accountabilities’ and let others in our teams take on ‘responsibilities’ that they can deliver to contribute into the whole.

Being responsible for actions is a big learning curve for your people to experience and sometimes they will need help with that. It can be a daunting prospect. It can also be misunderstood, where they don’t recognize that your expectation of them is real and finite. So they may need a nudge to comprehend what that means, especially to start with.

When we are building relationships, whilst we might be accountable for this overall (not least because it’s in our interest to do so), there are responsibilities that can be attributed to both sides to make the relationships start, continue and where appropriate, end effectively.

Understanding the difference between ‘accountable and ‘responsible’ is the first step for many managers in this position and one that they will need to be clear about at the earliest moment.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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February 13, 2010

Workplace Relationships – Who Is Responsible For Them?

There are poor workplace relationships. There are good workplace relationships. Sometimes they are even great. But where does the responsibility lie for creating the best environment for the best work to be done…

There is no doubt that there are times when managers have to depend on the best relationships to get the results they want. As a consequence, there is a real need for a manager to take the lead in the way they interact with their people.

Managers who have any sense at all, will know the onus is on them to drive their own actions to set up relationships that work best – for everyone. The desire here must be such that a bonded team forms, generating creative solutions with the energy that trust and mutual co-operation and focus leads to.

By taking control of their own behaviors, good managers set the ball rolling to ensure that they generate the best relationships possible, to create fruitful opportunities for business, organization and team productivity.

If they don’t know how, they have the means in terms of resources and time to go find out what they need to know, to make sure they have the best of relationships with their people.

So that seems to be that then!

Not quite. You see the responsibilities of employees are vital too, because it takes two to make a great one-to-one relationship. Whilst the manager might well be making the effort, members of their team have a responsibility too.

Because there is value in it for them as well, by having great interactions with their boss, to get a workplace where they feel valued, are excited and interested by opportunities and where learning by doing – and taking risks – is encouraged.

Employees have the opportunity to meet – at least half way – any manager or supervisor who creates the environment to get the relationship off to a great start, by mirroring the behaviors they themselves experience. The supervisor or managers leads the way, which the pro-active employee heeds – and responds to accordingly.

Great relationships come from that mutuality of trust, respect, caring, support, encouragement, coaching and more. The shared resources that two sides use to form lasting and valuable relationships, to ensure success has a better than evens chance as the outcome.

The lead may come from the manager or team leader or supervisor and when developing valuable working relationships with an employee, their support and equal responsibility to take full part, is of critical importance too.

Let’s face it, managers need help too, so working with them as they strive to do invest in the right behaviors for their team, will only enhance the returns that everyone receives in the long-term.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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February 2, 2010

The Philosophy of Responsibilities in Workplace Relationship Building

Relationship building is a vital core activity of anyone who manages or leads others, yet those being managed also have a responsibility to make the interactions work. So, why is understanding about responsibilities so important?

Understanding the relative responsibilities in relationship building in the workplace is important, so that suitable focus can be attached to each side, working towards consistently successful interactions.

Knowing that each side has a part to play and that this will involve deep consideration (especially where relationships have been strained in the past), helps to frame the mindset that will be important to create.

Responsibilities are not to be taken lightly. They are indeed a responsibility in themselves. Of being in a place where behaviors can create or destroy the outcomes that each side might want as well as appreciating that sometimes these may be different.

Holding responsibility is important, yet sometimes gets stuck behind a number of challenging and conflicting attitudes that can make the decisions about how to approach a relationship somewhat blurred.

For example, an individual may well have set ideas about what they want from their job. This needs to be aligned with what the job entails, the conditions within that job is offered and the rewards, some tangible, some not, that are provided.

A manager, on the other hand needs results for their area of responsibility and that is usually their overriding focus and can, on some occasions blinker the expectations and hopes of their team members.

Without understanding that the responsibility for a mutually beneficial relationship lies on both sides equally, it could be easy merely to push for only the respective needs of each side.

Yet, without taking the responsibility to realize that both sides want their needs met, neither side is likely to win. Indeed it is likely that antagonism and mistrust will take over and the relationship founders, which no-one wants and is quite value-less.

The philosophy of responsibility in relationship building is that it is an important ‘gift’ that each holds and this is to be used in a way that enshrines the values of both sides, whilst acknowledging that one side does not have any greater grip on their own outcomes than the other.

When we take up a responsibility, it is not to be taken lightly. Where this relates to the interactions we have with others, taking responsibility means that we have to know and understand what is important to them, as well as what’s in our own interests too.

Ultimately, the responsibility element of relationship building is a critical element of success, with each side being clear on what the best outcome will be, not just for themselves, but for everyone.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Developing Your People, Management Basics by Martin

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