relationship building

February 18, 2010

People Management – Having An Open/Closed Door Policy

It’s important to be accessible to your people. Being available means that you have the opportunities to bond and be willing to create excellent relationships. And there’s a time to stop as well…

We are sociable animals.

As managers, there is nothing in us that makes us different from the rest of humanity. We like interaction with others and this adds value to the relationships we have, which, in turn, makes us good to have around.

Here’s the rub – we need to be involved with people to make the most of the relationships we need as managers, yet we also need to be able to draw the line as well.

It’s a huge benefit to your relationship building activities to be approachable and available for any of your people who want to drop by. Yet this can be very disruptive when you want to focus on work that you need to do.

Sometimes, you need to close the door on your office and get things done, without being unapproachable. This can seem like quite a paradox, yet it isn’t at all.

By simply having a rule that says, ‘When the door is closed, I’m busy’, you create a message that people understand and will prevent you seeming to be unavailable.

Because, when your door is open, you show you are keen to keep in touch and be there for them as well.

It’s a simple way to set boundaries that your people will ‘get’ when you explain it to them, whilst still retaining the availability that is so vital when you need to be close to them too.

At first your people might find it strange if it has not been your normal practice up to now and, well, they’ll get used to it once you apply it and explain why.

In fact, it might well be a tactic that others adopt, which you will need to honor yourself for them.

Here’s how to make this work for you in the most positive way, whilst setting those boundaries that are all important too.

Just make it clear to all of your people that an open door means you are available and a closed door means that you are only to be disturbed when there’s a fire!

You can apply this to calls and e-mails and virtual contacts as well.

By creating spaces – the right spaces – for your people, they get your attention when you aren’t distracted by the things you have to do and they also learn that there are times when, you know, it’s OK to create space for yourself.

In their own ways of working, they start to integrate this as a discipline for themselves as well.

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

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February 15, 2010

Getting Employee Support Through Relationship Building

Managers need help! When you manage others, it’s to ensure that you have the skills around you to deliver the bigger picture.

The results you need will not come from you alone, so you need the best relationships with your team members to achieve all you want to.

We all need support, whatever we do in life. We need it in our home lives; we need it when we enjoy our leisure; and we certainly need it in the workplace.

Whether we are a new-join employee at the bottom of the career ladder, or we are a super-senior executive, we need others to carry on in our lives as we want, to enjoy the experiences we need to make everything worthwhile.

When we have responsibilities in the workplace, we need others onboard at all times, because work outputs cannot be achieved alone.

One of the purposes of the relationships we build with our people is to enable them to better support what we are expected to achieve with our teams. the goals we are set as managers are not for our personal achievement alone. That’s why we have people in our teams.

Spending time creating these relationships shares who we are with our people, such that they kn ow that their contribution is valued. A contribution that can often be some element of the work that we, as their manager, fail to have the skills to deliver.

Our people should have the abilities to do the things we can’t and we provide them with the resources and space to do their own thing, as a contribution to the greater good of the team.

The best managers know this and step back from their own pride to nurture these talents. And they do this by spending time with their people, coaching, training, supporting and encouraging them to be their best.

Getting the relationships with your employees just right to get them creatively contributing as fully as possible is a great achievement for anyone who leads and managers others.

Investing in just a little time using some easy tactics to interact with them costs little (if anything) and makes a manager’s job both more interesting and easier.

Of course a manager needs to step back from the fire-fighting and crisis-solving activities they can so easily get bogged down with. When they take this visionary step, they can be assured of a return that is way beyond the effort they expand – and a return that continues on, with the minimum of maintenance.

Getting the support you need when you are a manager is a must-do. Getting your people to provide it with you is one of the major activities any manager needs to consider valuable.

By focusing on people, for small parts of the day by simply engaging in conversation, there are many benefits that accrue, not least having a willing band of people who are alongside you as you manage effectively to deliver the results needed – and beyond.

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

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February 11, 2010

Workplace Relationship Building – Developing Intuition Skills

One of the most important reasons that we spend time and effort creating valuable relationships with our employees, is to get to know them well.

This can seriously enhance your sensitivities.

As we work to understand our people better, we spend time with them really finding out what they are all about. At the same time, we give up a little of ourselves too, to show that we trust them knowing more about us too. This generates a mutual respect and care for each other, slowly and surely.

As the relationship builds, the time we spend with them provides simple factual information about them and we start to feel that we know them and their lives much better.

Because the purpose of our relationship is to better support each other towards our obvious – as well as personal – goals, so the mutual trust between us is a vital component.

That understanding extends further than simply knowing the names of their kids, or where they prefer to vacation. It becomes more than about their career aspirations and their hopes and fears, as well as those areas of their capability that they worry about. Listening as they tell us provides the space and respect needed to help them share some of these difficult areas too.

As they open up to us, we start to build another picture too. A deeper purpose of the ongoing interactions we have is to know them and their character better too. Knowing this deeper – and often carefully hidden – side of them, helps us to become much better sensitized to their every day moods and behaviors.

With that inherent knowledge, we develop that sense of intuition about them to help us recognize those all-important and sometimes almost invisible signals.

Signals that really help us when we get that gut instinct that provides us with much more about them and what they are about right now. More of the ‘who’ they are today, than simply the ‘what’ that comes across when we know them less well.

One of the key reasons about building relationships is that we are there to work ever more closely with our team members, always for mutual benefit. By having heightened senses about what they are feeling, we can work more closely again, by showing them that we notice, even when there is nothing overtly to see or hear.

And when we are able to do that, it’s amazing how the relationship is strengthened even more again, leading to added value to the time spent in initially building the bonds between us, for both our sakes.

Creating new purpose to the developing relationships we are forging closely between us.

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

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February 8, 2010

How Workplace Relationships Generate Unexpected Positives

Although it might not be the most obvious of reasons, when you spend time building relationships with the people in your team, there sometimes are those unexpected positives that come out of it.

One of the interesting points about creating useful workplace relationships is that you can’t always predict the positives it creates.

When we manage others, we enjoy the rewards that management provides. It pays better than what those we manage get and, for many, the working conditions of managers will usually be better in the main, than those people in their charge.

With this comes a role that can be isolating and distant from colleagues in their team. The levels of discipline and detachment bring penalties amending relationships such that then can seem to have barriers in place.

Yet the purpose of relationships in the workplace are such that we expect value to be created. Value in terms of performances of those who work for us, creating enhanced returns in the results we need to achieve.

Value in terms of their behaviors when they do their job; when they manage their loyalty in their attendance longevity of service with us, because of the culture that supports and encourages them. Because of the relationships you build.

For those who manage, there can be spin-offs too. They can feel much more partnership and collaboration with the team than they might expect. This quite simply because they are prepared to make the effort to have open, honest and developmental relationships with their people, one by one.

When this happens and as long as we manage professionally and consistently, we can be taken into the group as friends as well as ‘the boss’ sometimes.

This can mean inclusion; support; being watched out for, as well as the general camaraderie that is such an important element of many workers’ lives. We can enjoy this with our people too.

Inclusion can take many forms, yet it is the smallest things that touch managers when they feel much more accepted, whilst still being able to carry out their professional role competently and delivering the results expected of them.

One of the purposes of good managers creating worthwhile relationships in the workplace, is to create an ambience where everyone – including themselves – is nurtured to fulfillment and achievement of their potential.

Once the relationships are created between everyone, even managers will find small surprises come along, And even when it’s such a small thing as a remembered birthday; a Christmas card or even a simply an occasion where someone has a humorous dig about a defeat for their football team.

This is when relationships are just right, and the effort is all worthwhile.

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

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February 5, 2010

Relationship Building Values – Developing the Feelgood Factor

Positive actions come when people feel they are contributing well. Excellence of performance comes from knowing that we are recognized to be doing well.

With the right relationships with your people, you can make the most of this.

People feel good about themselves when they feel that they are achieving success. They like to know that the challenges they have accepted are progressing and they are thought well of.

Yet sometimes, for many of us, it’s hard to take that objective position where we know for ourselves just how we are doing. Praising ourselves is difficult indeed.

When we are responsible for others in our team, it’s part of our job to get the most from each one of them. A manager’s role is closely focused on our skills with our people and nothing else should get in the way of that.

By taking the time to use the relationships we have built with them to full effect, we can make sure that the feedback we give is positive and constructive for them, giving them a sense of well-being in the work they do.

These relationships cannot be created overnight. The trust that is required to ensure that what they hear you say is accepted at face-value, is an investment that doesn’t come all at once.

As you make the deposits in the emotional relationships that you have between you over time, there comes an understanding that makes what you say to them be trusted and have all the more impact as a consequence.

Once the ‘feelgood’ factor starts to show up for them, there is a power in the new-found confidence that emanates from them.

Every action has an enhanced level of belief; every opportunity to try on new opportunities is met with possibility; every time they see something risky, there is a confidence to try that comes from their absorbed understanding of what they are capable of.

Feeling good about ourselves offers a further value that extends outside the workplace too. When we know that we’re doing a good job, we take it home with us. We are happier in our other lives, because we have a new confidence.

The value of a manager taking the time to get to know us well enough, to spend time telling us how well we are doing is immeasurable, in all sorts of contexts.

For the manager, they build on potential being realized. We grow our people and squeeze out of them what’s tucked away inside, making much more – almost anything indeed – possible.

Feelgood is a unique product of great workplace relationships and a manager taking the time to tell their people – authentically – that they are doing well.

From this, much more becomes possible too.

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

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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 29, 2010

Workplace Relationship Building – Hopes and Fears

Managers and supervisors are human. Let’s take that as a given. We don’t always feel we can share this with our people too much, but it’s true. We have feelings as well.

How we share that with our people is another matter.

One of the biggest challenges facing managers is their approachability. Despite the world moving onto a more ‘team’ approach in many workplaces, there is still a certain reverence for any manager with his people.

The irony here is that managers are just as vulnerable to the range of emotions as every member of their team, as was once said, ‘They pull their pants on just like you and I do everyday’!

So, recognizing that we are all the same, allows us to understand there might be differences in some things, but deep down, we live with ourselves every day.

In fact, because of the isolated nature of a managers elevated role, there are times when they are in a worse position that those in their team’s, because they have to maintain discipline and cannot therefore be simple ‘one of the boys’ (or ‘girls’).

This is an opportunity when building workplace relationships with employees. They don’t often have the chance to relate to managers in quite the same way as their colleagues, such is the still elevated ‘position’ that a manager holds.

The opportunity comes because relationship building offers the potential to get closer to your people by showing them that you are just like them. You really do have the same emotions as anyone else and, although most often it’s easy to put on a mask of competence, sometimes you too have bad days.

Days where you feel like you need someone around to talk to. Someone to share the fears you have about how things are going and, whilst it would be wrong to splay open your self-doubt too widely, there is nothing wrong with airing some of your self-concerns, once you have the right level of relationship.

Similarly, whilst you are keen to hear from others their aspirations and hopes, sharing yours with your people will do you no harm either.

Indeed, being a little more open with your hopes, fears and concerns will draw your people in, especially when you do it in a controlled way that emphasizes the relationship that you have with each others.

The hopes and fears you have in the role you hold are pretty normal. We all wonder about how we can cope, survive and be successful. As long as you do this in the right way, you will be valued for the way you show that far from being different, you are pretty much just like most of your people.

Filed under Blog, Building the Future, Developing Your People, Focus on Results, 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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January 11, 2010

Workplace Relationship Building – Getting Out Of Your Own Way

Effective relationships with team members is vital for managers to deliver the very best results. Yet one of the biggest hurdles to overcome is quite close to home.

As managers need their people to be fully productive, it is vital that they nurture the strongest of working relationships with them. Every individual has particular skills to offer and to make the most of this, their full commitment to the cause is vital.

This can be challenging for some managers to work through, with them believing that as manager, their role is superior to their people and they will lead the way – and deliver it – at all times, even when it’s almost impossible to carry the workload output required.

Good managers overcome the challenge that their own high level of self-importance can present. By being able to see the bigger picture of the needs of the team to create results, the best managers recognize that rather than them being the most important in the team, the contrary is true. Their people are where the vital energy and competence needs to lie.

Appreciation of their role as a facilitator, managers who get the best results simply know that they will only deliver strongly when they get the best from every individual they have as a colleague. So they will focus on working much harder at building motivation and collaboration with their people than by trying to show their higher level of authority.

Managers who cannot get past their own ego, pride and ‘position’, will always find the going tough, because their role is never to be the ‘doers’, whatever their personal drive is.

The best managers see their role purely as leveraging the great skills of their people. Indeed really good managers recruit people who are even more capable than they are, without any concerns about doing so.

They have been able to get over their own self-doubt and moved past that, knowing that the better they are at being a humble partner in their team, the more likelihood there is of success. Employees relate to the manager who is on a par with them and are more productive in that situation.

So many managers struggle to get beyond their own self-importance to take the time to create the valuable working relationships where they are as equal partners as possible, yet this is precisely the requirement of the role.

By investing some time building relationships with individuals in a carefully structured way, the more successful managers set their stall out to be doing everything possible to squeeze the best performance from the capable people they have.

This only comes from intimate working relationships that create trust and a following that is hard to pin down, yet is so very powerful and ultimately fruitful.

And the biggest challenge to overcome is so often the manager themselves.

Filed under Blog, Developing Your People, Focus on Results, Managing Me by Martin

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January 4, 2010

Workplace Relationship Building Is Vital

Small things matter. Tiny nuances in the way we interact with people can shift the balance between success and failure. So when we manage people, we have to be aware of the impact our behaviors can – and do – have.

As managers, whether we look after two part-time helpers in our small business, or lead a huge team, perhaps even remotely, we depend on others for success.

Rarely, in most business situations, be they commercial or service driven, public, private or not-for-profit, can a manager do it alone. For free standing entrepreneurs, there may be a few times where they think they can cope alone (though this is actually even rarer), because they work in isolation.

Managers need their people onside to work in the most productive of ways.

And the bottom line is that, whether it be consciously or unconsciously, people are significantly influenced in their capacity to deliver, by the way they interpret their interactions with a line manager.

They say that 65% of people leave their job because of the way their immediate line manager interacts with them, so any manager worth their salt will themselves take note of this and work hard to make the best of the relationships they have with their employees.

Now, some managers have a natural capability to get on well with their people. They create a relationship that is fruitful, seemingly almost without trying. They are ‘people’ people, with a natural flair for building relationships.

For others, it’s much more challenging, where it can often be the case that they don’t know what they are doing wrong and as a consequence, find it hard to work out what they need to change to get it right.

In these cases, with closer investigation, it’s easy to find disillusioned staff who find their manager unapproachable and even unreasonable.

Neither side knows why, yet the manager is the one who suffers the most in terms of performance, whilst the employees suffer most emotionally, affecting not just their workplace experience, but their bigger life too.

Though some people who lead teams will have a more natural talent to create relationships, there are simple tactics that others can learn, practice and adopt that will change their lives – and those of their people too – creating much more effective management, as well as significantly improving business performance as well.

Even simple skills like being better listeners (as described so eloquently in ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’ that great classic by Dale Carnegie) make huge differences.

Without effective relationships with their team members, managers will struggle, yet where they make the effort to build relationships with employees, there will be rich rewards indeed, for everyone.

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

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