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March 5, 2010

Employee And Management Relationships – 5 Ways To ‘Win-Win’

Getting the best from workplace relationships is one of the most significant goals for managers.

The truth is, there must be outcomes for both sides that work effectively – and they come in different shapes and sizes.

For workplace relationships to be effective, there has to be a benefit that both sides achieve, or the interaction is always going to be an uphill challenge, with neither side ultimately fully satisfied.

Indeed there is no overall value when one side deems themselves to be the ‘winner’ and the other side goes away empty handed.

In the one-to-one relationships we have with every one of our people, it’s vital to ensure that you as manager achieve the business outcomes you need to deliver.

On the other hand, the individual on the other side of the desk, must go some way to having their needs met too. Often these are needs which are even more valuable than simply their salary check at the end of the month.

In truth, they need more again to be fully motivated and ‘turned on’ to the relationship that you have between you.

The Win-Win Scenario can sound a bit like a trade-off for a manager. One where there might be a hint of ‘giving it away’.

To balance this view a little, let’s have a look at five situations where a manager might feel like they are losing out by giving their employee more than they might wish – and then see the positives that can accrue from that.

1. ‘I need some time’ – by offering some time to sit with, listen and support/coach your employee, you are building the relationship, developing trust and encouraging them to take ownership of their own evolution in their job.

This does NOT mean you are responsible for their ‘next steps’ – you are careful to pass those back to them – you DO have a role in facilitating their choices.

2. ‘I need your help’
– could precipitate a groan or two. Yet this is a perfect opportunity to show that you aren’t a softie, just prepared to suffer with them. Asking for help is just that, requiring a gentle nudge along the way to get them moving.

This is great for clarifying your role as a support for their chosen actions, as well as providing the opportunity for them to self-enable.

3. ‘I need you to understand’
– sounds like trouble? Maybe. In fact when you are approached to understand your people better, this is a great moment to savor. It shows that you are approachable and it shows a willingness on the part of your colleague to build a better bridge in the relationship between you.

Of course, it is vital that you pay full attention and take on board what is said, willingly seeking to understand what they want to get across.

4. ‘Please listen to me’ – means that they need you to appreciate them. It is about them sharing with you that they feel unheard, so it’s a warning sign. The important thing here is that they are prepared to ask, so the relationship is not at rock bottom.

There is a willingness to partner with you – and that’s a positive sign for the future.

5. ‘I’m bored with working here’ – isn’t that great! If and when you ever hear this, it can be music to your ears, because it shows that there is a desire NOT to be bored.

When you are approached in this way, your ‘win’ is that you have potential there that is not being fulfilled, so there are options.

This is not a Lose/Win at all, because once you switch them on, their value will soar, providing significantly better performance for you and your progress towards your goals too.

Rarely, where there is a relationship to unfold, will there be Win/Lose or Lose/Win experiences for managers who are prepared to grasp the opportunities that jump out at them.

The key is to ensure that you are open to the possibilities that make each and every interaction a ‘Win-Win’, because it is available to you, if you want to make the effort to take it.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Managing Me by Martin

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January 1, 2010

Effective Business Relationships – Just How Valuable Are They?

In the modern employment world, anyone would be hard pressed to manage effectively without interacting closely with other people, be they their own team, colleagues, line managers and customers, yet so often, this does not happen.

In the majority of situations, where any form of work activity takes place, the most important role a manager has is the ability to create just the right levels of relationships with each one of their team. And that’s where the vital ability to learn and nurture this skill comes in.

One of the most under-valued and unrecognized skills any individual can have is the ability to create useful relationships. This is not the preserve of the workplace alone, of course. Many of us know people who we just seem to get on well with.

This is no fluke. These individuals have learnt, often unwittingly, that they have the knack utilizing those interpersonal skills that either come naturally or they have actively developed in themselves.

Whilst this might seem to be particularly important for a manager to have and use with those individuals who work closely with and for them, the relationship building skills that ordinary employees can develop will be vital for them too, both with colleagues who are their peers as well as to make the most of their relationship up the line (more of this later!).

Many managers see their role most precisely defined by delivering targets and goals. By the results and numbers that are the tangible demonstration of success or failure. And of course, there is an attraction in the short-term world in which we live to be focused on the end-result, achieved as quickly and painlessly as possible.

The real truth is, however success is to be achieved, managers cannot do it alone, so the capability to use people skills to build effective relationships with at least the majority of their team is vital – many would say fundamental – to have any chance of success.

It is such a truism that managers ‘don’t manage things, they manage people’, yet many managers don’t make the often quite minimal investment of time needed to create effective relationships with their people. Indeed, they often spiral into overwhelm as they absorb the activities of their people and do the work they need not do if they had made that investment and made their relationships work much more effectively.

Relationship building is probably the most important activity for any manager – and yet it’s not restricted to them alone. Employees can develop their own skills to create effective working relationships too, making the difference for their engagement, motivation and not forgetting their potential and opportunity to develop and progress their career.

For those unfortunates who have managers who simply cannot appreciate the value that effective workplace relationships bring, they have an opportunity to take the lead and drag, kicking and screaming even, managers into the fold, such that effective business happens, even if it is ‘bottom up’!

Remember the key points – Be Proactive; Recognize the Value and above all, Create the Time to build those Effective Relationships!

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Management Basics, Managing Me by Martin

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