I was on a Skype coaching session with a senior administrator in large consulting company in Jakarta a few days ago.
I enjoy my sessions with her. She is driven, very engaging and most of all, honest with about her issues.
We discussed many things. She was, however, most concerned about a problematic relationship with a colleague, and also about an ongoing covert feud with another department in her company.
The colleague in question, who was being uncooperative, made my coachee’s connectivity with her boss a little fraught with difficulty. And, the tricky situation with the other department was impacting her personal effectiveness as well as the smooth operations of her division.
This is a bad place to be, as line leader.
I had to remind my coachee that she had to manage and repair these functional relationships with others. Everyone has vital relationships that sometimes end up becoming dysfunctional. And, if you find yourself in this situation, it is critical that you work at fixing it right away.
The effectiveness of your functional connection with any colleague at work requires both of you to fulfill agreed, and fixed obligations, to each other. It is only when you have this clarity and agreement that you can actually deliver results at work.
I asked my coachee to understand the types of relationships that she had at work. We chatted about this, and she felt better equipped to deal with her dilemma.
What are the relationships that you find at your workplace?
Sometimes, they are just purely transactional. This is when you simply cooperate as a means to an end. If you are cooperative in these transactional interfaces, you will both walk away feeling good. These are simplest connections at work.
Then, there are relational connections in the office.
These relationships are meaningful engagements that you have to build and maintain over an extended period of time. If you have relational connections with your colleagues, you will not only care about the outcomes, but you also care about your colleague.
This is the more important type of workplace relationship.
To manage these relationships properly, you must pay attention to the process and quality of how you are both communicating. It is not just about interacting as a means to an end. You have to watch your emotions and what you say.
What do you need to be vigilant off at your workplace when attempting to build these relationships?
Aside from your own emotions, the biggest threat to relationship building is toxic people. Colleagues who are toxic always have a destructive attitude, and will create a damaging work atmosphere.
You must construct strong relationships that will help you withstand the onslaught of the occasional nastiness that occurs in all companies. Tighten up your connections with those coworkers you have functional relationships with, so that you withstand this toxicity.
Remember that when your relationships are purposeful, you can work better together.
For example, if you are barely on speaking terms with someone, and you are put together in a project, it will take you some time to understand each other before you can work collaboratively. On the other hand, if you know someone and respect them, it becomes easier for you to work together.
Everyone spends a lot of time with their colleagues at work. If you actually enjoy your time with them, naturally, you will produce better results rather than if do not look forward to it.
Work needs to be fun for you to have better morale. Stiff and unfriendly workplaces can’t provide fun.
In my experience with leadership coaching and training, I see that employees only feel connected with their jobs when they have strong connections with each other, and share the same organisational vision.
For leaders it is vital to recognise that connected relationships offer higher retention rates, which is necessary for sustainable growth.
And, from a profitability stand-point, happy employees are always more productive. A well-adjusted workfor
ce is a productive one. This is what you always need.
When you develop strong links with your colleagues, you can create collaborative relationships with each other. This gets everyone connected to their functions and roles. And in turn, collectively, you all produce phenomenal outcomes for your organisation.
It all begins with solid relationships.
The highest value task for any business owner, chief executive, or line leader is to create conducive workplaces that foster the building of these relationships.
You do this by jointly developing a strong mission that everyone agrees on. This means you do not deliver the mission, top-down, from the board of directors. Instead, you get everyone in your team to contribute to the exercise of creating it.
This is a start of any buoyant team-based environment.
After this, work on tightening your workplace relationships by setting clear expectations, and practicing constant communication. This means regular discussions and feedback. And, establishing practices on how to resolve conflict quickly when it occurs.
This is what I asked my coachee to do. Perhaps you should work on this too!
Shankar R. Santhiram is managing consultant and executive leadership coach at EQTD Consulting. He is also the author of the national bestseller “So, You Want To Get Promoted?”