There’s a lot of buzz about relationships these days. Search “relationships in business” in Google and see how many results you get. But behind hype is the truth that the ability to connect and cooperate with clients, and especially co-workers, is essential for success. This is especially true for leaders.
Why Good Relationships Are So Important
Having good relationships in the workplace increases your job satisfaction. You probably spend from 8 to 10 hours a day with these people, after all. If you actually enjoy being around them, you’ll enjoy your time at work more. Also, when you genuinely care about colleagues, it builds a sense of community – even family. Those bonds can see you through a lot of hard times.
And have you ever thought of good relationships as a time management tool? Think how much time and energy you spend dealing with problems associated with negative relationships. Building positive relationships frees up all that time! Having a cohesive team also makes it much easier to get buy-in when you’re struggling to meet deadlines or implementing new processes and procedures.
The ability to build good relationships is also essential to achieving your career goals. As soon as you walk into a workplace, you begin painting a picture of who you are for your co-workers. If you paint negative things – for example, by participating in watercooler gossip or taking credit for others’ work – that is the picture everyone will see. Relationships also open doors for awards, raises and promotions. If you never look up and interact with the people around you, no one is going to remember how stellar you are! Don’t forget, too, to build relationships beyond your immediate team or department. You want to be able to work and communicate well with everyone within your company.
What It Takes to Build Good Relationships
It may seem cliché, but the first thing you need to build good relationships with others is to have one with yourself. If you’ve ever worked with someone who was insecure, you know how exhausting it can be! Everything becomes about them – even if it’s not about them. Know and like who you are, and then don’t be afraid to be uniquely yourself.
Trust is another essential element. Your co-workers MUST know that you will live up to your word and fulfill your commitments. You build trust by consistent actions trust over time. But once trust is broken, it’s a lot harder to re-build.
Respect and appreciation are also keys to positive relationships. Think of respect as valuing people for who they are and appreciation as valuing them for what they do. A measure of respect should be given to anyone in a position of authority, but a great leader knows how important it is to earn that respect every single day. Employees want to know that you care about them and appreciate what they do as much as they want to be informed of important changes at your company. They need to know that what they do is important!
Develop your people skills. This takes practice and feedback for people who aren’t naturally outgoing or social. Communication skills are particularly important. You may not want to hear it, but a leader is responsible for keeping the lines of communication open. You must be the bigger person in every situation. By accepting a leadership role, you forfeit the right to give cold shoulders. Also, practice active listening. Nothing shuts down the lines of communication faster than knowing that the person you’re talking with is busy planning what he/she will say next instead of really listening.
Make Time for Relationships
Finally, schedule time to focus on nurturing relationships. I know “team building exercises” have a bad reputation. More than one office sitcom’s gotten a lot of laughs at their expense! Instead of pre-packaged (and expensive) courses and seminars, find an activity that appeals to most, if not all, the people on your team and requires you to work together. Then go for it! I promise you, it will be worth your time.
Resources for Relationship Building
Looking for more tools to help build strong, better relationships? Check out these articles.
- 7 Power Skills that Build Strong Relationships, by Steve Brunkhorst
- The 5 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making With Work Relationships, by Ken Blanchard and Scott Blanchard
- 6 Tips for Building Better Work Relationships, by Joanna Hughes