encouraging openness

February 1, 2010

Workplace Relationship Building – Creating A Better Understanding

There are many opportunities for misunderstandings when we work in organizations. The most common reason is the way we fail to communicate properly.

The relationships we have with our people can easily change that.

Managers who have a vested interest in the success of their teams, have a role to play to ensure that communication is right. Simply expecting that what gets said is interpreted the way intended just does not always work.

By getting to know their people well, there will always be signs to help ensure that understanding is a priority. Employees have ways of showing when they aren’t sure and a closer relationship will make sure that you see that too.

Only by being close enough to their people, will a manager have the ability to use their sense of intuition to recognize these signs. Sometimes it will be blatantly obvious when something has not been clear. On other occasions, it will be some small and almost insignificant sign – especially to the untrained eye and ear.

That’s why making the smallest of investments in time, of getting to know people well enough, is vital. And that goes both ways too, where their better awareness of you is critical to understand your nuances too.

When we lead teams, it’s not enough to view them as a team alone. Communications don’t work when we try to do things that appeal only to a mass. By spending time in easy conversation with each of our people, we will build our own awareness of them, whilst also showing them that we are interested enough to make that investment in them too.

The truth is, where we want to understand our people better, we have to make the effort to talk to them and even more importantly listen to them hard. It’s not effective enough to pay lip-service to our people these days. Listening hard means really understanding what they say and how they say it – even expending to appreciating what’s not been said too.

The effective relationships we build will always help to make sure that we are understood as well as possible. As in the great adage from Stephen Covey in ‘7 Habits of Highly Effective People’, we must always ‘seek first to understand and (only) then, be understood’.

The prerequisite to our expectations of being understood is that we take the time to understand fully our people first.

By making efforts in getting these one-to-one relationships working right in the first place, we always have the much better chance to make sure that the understanding between both sides is working to its full potential.

And that’s a value for everyone involved, leading to success being that much more likely.

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

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January 23, 2010

Workplace Relationship Building – The Purpose of Openness

The relationships that managers have with their people are vital for success. Where fruitful interactions happen, there needs to be a level of trust to enable as much sharing as possible.

And openness is the key.

When we want to get the best from our employees, we have to make the effort to get to know them better. It has to be a two-way process to help them feel comfortable with you, so that opening up is an easy step for them.

Getting to know them well, includes giving them an understanding of what you are about too. By sharing just a little of your inner self, you will encourage them to be more open too. There’s no need to go too far with this. No need to overwhelm them with the problems you face, until you feel able to and when you know it is appropriate and it will be valuable – on both sides.

These levels of relationships are very intimate and with that comes responsibilities such as confidentiality, understanding and support as the very least.

Being open with you, their boss, can create vulnerabilities and sensitivities that you need to realize is an honor, because people do not let just anyone under their skin. It has to be earned and respected.

When you are open with people, you share your innermost self with them. When your team members feel safe enough to do so, the openness they offer needs to be reciprocated, so that they know that it is the relationship that is valuable, both ways, such that trust and win-win are the expected outcomes.

In the overall concept of workplace relationships’ the purpose of encouraging openness is to create and expand that bond between you both, such that each recognizes the value of the other in that pairing. Sharing a little of yourself with your people will be incredibly encouraging for them.

Being ‘human’ and one-to-one with people – in itself – is a huge step towards openness. The time you take to create the space for the interaction is an indication that you value them as an individual. That you respect their needs as well as see them as a significant contributor.

As this evolves, they will share more deeply their thoughts about their work. They will start to tell you that they have aspirations; that they struggle a little. The value of developing this openness between you is not just that you find out more about your people either.

Where you share your own challenges openly, you may be surprised at the offers of contributions to support you that you can generate. Openness is simply not about one-way traffic, it engenders togetherness through trust, working together to help and develop each other, irrespective of hierarchy.

And openness starts with you, their manager encouraging it through the model you show them, and the way your behaviors bring it on.

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

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