workplace relationships

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 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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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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January 31, 2010

Why Workplace Relationships Are So Valuable

Management is the art of getting the very best from your people. It is essentially a people skill that many managers have, yet struggle to make the best of.

The workplace relationships you form are most likely the major critical factor in your success.

The purpose of creating effective relationships with each and every one of your employees has many aspects. And every single one of them adds value to your proposition as a manager. That’s why building relationships adds much more value than having a buddy or two in the team.

Here are a few reasons that give purpose to relationship building – reminding us that every minute we spend getting to know our people well, is a great minute’s work!

  • Power of More than One – When we synergize our efforts, using the great interactions we have with our people, it is incredibly productive
  • Openness – workplace relationships worked well, offer the opportunity to share more; explain more; create more, in an environment where trust is strong
  • Hopes and Fears – as trust builds, each and every partner will feel able to expand their thinking – their personal thinking sometimes – and share with others, who will help
  • Better Understanding – avoiding miscommunication, because the relationship is strong enough to ask if not sure, means we become more effective & efficient
  • Feel Good – good relationships foster a general feeling of goodwill around the place, limiting politics and gossip, because ‘we just don’t do that round here’
  • Unexpected Positives – the best relationships add fun into the mix, where we can share laughter and enjoy each other’s company
  • Intuition – as our relationships build with our people, we are able to sense more, giving us the benefit of an ‘early warning system’ to catch problems early
  • Getting Support – where we support and help our people, they realize that we have needs too and offer help where you might need it
  • Hidden Talents and Skills – knowing our people well from the close interactions we have with them, means we get to know them well, uncovering the possibilities
  • Problem Shared – is a problem halved – at least! When we trust and others trust us, we have a reservoir of talent to supplement our own. Sometimes, others really do have better solutions
  • Bottom Line – the ultimate goal, providing focus and purpose to the work we do. Adding value to the results we seek is far, far easier when we have good working relationships with others in our teams

So, the purpose of building relationships in the workplace is many fold for anyone managing others. From the purely business focused results to the emotional personal sense of success and belonging that it can create.

The time investment is minimal, because relationship building is best done in the moment, informally, so there are no excuses.

What are you waiting for? There’s no time like the present to make this your immediate goal.

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

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January 28, 2010

Workplace Relationships – What Does Responsibility Mean?

Managers and employees have shared responsibilities for ensuring that they have a relationship between them that is strong. Let’s get clear about what this actually means in practice.

In the workplace, everyone interacts with each other. This is how society organizes itself and communicates together at work. These relationships are valuable for the opportunities they create to improve performance of individuals, as well as benefiting them, by creating a more useful and interesting place to work.

Each person in the team has a responsibility and a vested interest in making these relationships work, for their mutual benefit.

When you are a manager, there are steps you might take to rebuild a damaged relationship. Or perhaps it’s vital to start off a whole new team of people and hit the ground running by creating the right environment for working together.

As an employee, you need to have a voice that’s heard in an appropriate setting and also, where you can, show that you too can add value by the contributions you offer.

In practice, ‘responsibility’ is all about doing your bit (and maybe a little more) to oil the wheels of the relationships you have with all of your colleagues, at whatever level of hierarchy they might be, such that everyone is a winner.

This is not a time to take sides, so this is vital for everyone who shows up each morning to do their bit. Whether you are one of the senior management team or newly recruited this week, it doesn’t matter.

There are five critical activities that anyone creating a workplace relationship needs to be aware of – and be prepared to put into practice.

1. Show Commitment

By being onside and decided to make the difference, whatever the history, you are starting a process to build relationships, even if it means you have to rethink your position as well a bit.

2. Let Go Of The Past

Relationship building can be made much more difficult by ‘history’. This is a time to lead from the front, whichever position you are coming from and bury your own hatchets, ready for progress.

3. Be Interested in Others

You’ll build relationships faster if you dump talking all about yourself and make sure you ask questions that will help you get to know people better. Yet, this isn’t actually the point. It’s that you are showing that you are interested that counts.

4. Take a Breath

Leaving space for others to say their piece is a vital part of building relationships with anyone, remembering that when you are prepared to listen, you will stand out in a crowd, where others simply do not do this, making you all the more attractive for the ongoing relationship.

5. Create Trust

Following through with what you say you will do; being as open and honest as possible; giving and accepting feedback, as well as showing confidentiality and discretion, are all tiny and still vital tactics to adopt when building new and maintaining existing relationships.

These are the actions of all sides of the responsibility calculation where relationships are created or lost.

Everyone has a part to play and everyone is just as equally a contributor to the overall challenge, for which the outcome is always going to be of great value.

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

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January 24, 2010

Workplace Collaborations – The Power of More than One

Managers can be notoriously isolated. The role of manager is usually someplace between the team they lead and the powers that be in the organizational hierarchy.

This makes managers pretty self-sufficient, yet there’s power in the workplace relationships they build.

As we progress to management, we are able to develop skills that enable us to take on the role. Through experiences and training; through coaching and mentoring; through the networks of colleagues and experts We encourage and build, we are able to generate the skills and know-how to do the job of management.

Once in the role, it is easy for others to see us as an incredible resource, which builds our own confidence in ourselves, such that we find answers to the questions that many answer and problem-solve for our people.

This makes us feel good! It’s natural and when we’re good at it, we enjoy this part of our role, because we feel fulfilled with our abilities.

As we progress, the teams we lead are bigger and have a bigger job to do, so our input can be stretched ever more, with each promotion we take on. It is easy in this growth of role to mean there are expectations of many more people to focus on us.

This is not sustainable, because you cannot do it alone.

When you are good with people, you foster great relationships with your employees as you progress. Your first management offers you great opportunities to work intimately with those who are in your team.

In such situations, you can build your abilities in communication, intuition, performance management and many more of the management skills that will be so vital for you in the years to come.

When you’re smart, it’s here that you start to understand, when you are open to it, how you can leverage the interaction with others, sometimes with your team as a whole. More often, by utilizing the great relationships you have built with each individual employee, to get their input too.

Imagine a conversation when you have a tricky decision that you need to make. When you’ve invested a bit of time with your people to help them feel comfortable contributing openly when they work with you – their manager – the richness of the debate will be stronger and much more valuable.

Ideas will flow from them as well as you, synergizing thinking to create the outstanding solutions.

Once you can have this quality of debate with individuals, you can extract even more with whole-team debates too, magnifying the value of the wonderful workplace relationships you’ve already got in place.

There is much more power in ‘more than one’, particularly when you’ve done your groundwork and prepared your interactions with others, one-by-one, by creating business relationships that are ripe for reaping the reward.

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

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January 13, 2010

Effective Workplace Relationships – How Much Do You Want It?

Whilst management is all about getting the best from the people in your team, they aren’t your only focus. You see, the extent of either success or failure all depends on your personal drive and ambition as well.

The key to effective management comes from your personal abilities to make the most of your team members. Whilst this might sound like it’s a done deal if you work hard enough and are focused on maxing those people out, there are a number of challenges to get past inside yourself first.

Most managers can drive their people’s performance well and, depending on how good their relationship is with their people, this capability will dictate the levels of success they achieve, both in the short- and long-term.

There is a bigger challenge that the very best managers are able to evaluate and then overcome. It’s about what they are prepared to amend, test and even sacrifice in themselves, in order to develop the most effective value-creating relationships, with all of their people.

Whilst it might sound like this is going to be a tough series of consequences for a manager to change in their behaviors, yet it isn’t as hard as it might seem to be at first consideration.

There are five key elements that will be tested for a manager to succeed in developing the relationships they need, to be successful with their team:-

1. Be very interested in others – is most important, because when you show you are really interested in people, it builds rapport, trust and bigger relationships quickly develop

2. Be a lot less interested in themselves – your people love to hear themselves about themselves much more than about  you (though they do like it if you open up a bit from time to time)

3. Giving up control – by letting go of some of their personal controls, the best managers enable their people more, which brings them much closer together (and takes the pressure off the manager too!)

4. Spending some time investing – getting to know their team members (almost inside-out!), will be an investment of their precious time that’s definitely well worth the effort

5. Actually making the effort – by focusing on and creating the opportunities for interactions, the best managers recognize that this is an area of their management that is worth their fullest attention

Most of this work is defining whether a manager has the strength of character to dig in and do the work they need to. It’s both a test of their spirit and energy, as much as helping them find their management path and style.

It’s also a good measure whether they are prepared to challenge, assess and adjust their own behaviors, to get what they truly want from the work they do, by effectively and objectively developing the relationships with their people.

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

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January 6, 2010

Identifying Key Workplace Relationships

There are many different relationships that managers forge in the workplace. Whilst some may seem to be much more important than others, in many ways, every single one is just as important as another…

Managing is a people thing. To get the best from every one of your relationships will require efforts to ensure that everyone with whom you engage is ‘turned on’ to you, in whatever enterprise you are all engaged in.

Employees

Whilst these are not the only workplace relationships a manager will be engaged in, they are likely to be the most important, encouraging the environment such that members of the team are focused on getting the job done.

The best managers adopt a consistent strategy for building individual relationships – whether they be with their team members or other relationships they have that impinge on the success – or otherwise – that the team seeks.

This consistency shows that the manager’s behaviors are authentic and really meant, thus providing their people with a sense of trust because the realize that ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ is who their manager is.

With individual team members, there will be a number of different types of interaction from instruction, to delegation; from coaching to managing performance; from discipline to career discussions and more.

When there is a consistency of relationship approach that works well for both sides, the trust created is vital, meaning that a strong bond is already in place to ensure that the best outcomes are achieved with both sides on the same side.

There are other relationships that matter.

Customers

It’s a debatable point who is more important, the customer or employee. So let’s suffice to say that both are vital. Interactions and relationship building with customers (or however they are defined in your organization) is a critical step in any successful activity, however large or small.

The time taken to build positive and constructive relationships with each and every valuable customer, is always worthwhile.

In this case, a manager cannot be everywhere at all times, so they have to work even harder to ensure that they have people in their team who will spread their message in all interactions with customers, building the ongoing relationships which will bear fruit in the future – as well as today.

Line Managers and Colleagues

Managers most often have their own manager,s as well as colleagues and a peer group as well. Whilst time spent here might seem less valuable than with customers and their own employees, there is always value in being your best with others who might prove useful in the future.

Although this might seem to be an investment of time that could be spared, the overall concept of workplace relationships is one of consistency, where the behavior of a manager is the same, whoever the interaction is with.

By showing this trait throughout all interactions, the relationships that are built will create added value as employees recognize and replicate those great behaviors themselves.

And the colleagues, line managers and others that fit this category are always worth investing in!

Suppliers

In recent times, the bullying tactics of large organizations with their suppliers, where they are squeezed on price to create the best margins for the buyer, have become seen to be both impractical, immoral and ultimately unsuccessful.

By building win-win relationships with suppliers where they can also be successful, the buyer develops a long-term strategy for ongoing success, not a short-term gain that is unsustainable. Organizations are recognizing that they need to provide for success in the future, rather than a one-time gain and lose ongoing business.

Other Stakeholders

Most organizations have other stakeholders who need to be nurtured for ongoing success. Often these may be hidden or even ignored, where a manager doesn’t see the immediate value. Getting clear on who are stakeholders in any business is critical or the ‘unknowns’ start to grow, which is much less controllable.

Building effective relationships with all stakeholders is important as a minimum and then to pick and choose who is really worth extra cultivation, will be a choice made in relation to what’s needed at the time. The initial relationships that are created are never lost and are always of value. Truth is, you just never know, so it’s best to be ahead of the game – just in case!

The key element to finding, developing and then cultivating relationships is a consistent behavioral approach that is seen to be authentic, because it is.

This can be a challenge to some managers who find relationship building less natural than others and still, it really is worth the effort.

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

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