All organisations want their staff to enjoy healthy professional relationships. Strong relationships between colleagues translates into higher productivity and more innovative, creative workplaces. The level of absenteeism, presenteeism and staff turnover reduces when workers enjoy spending time with their colleagues. All of these attributes make for a more engaged, happier workforce.
6 Key Foundations of Strong Working Relationships
Relationships at work are built on the same foundations as personal relationships. Take a look at some key foundations of strong working relationships below.
No one wants to second guess their colleague. Try to be consistent with the decisions you make, your mood, demeanour and the way you treat all colleagues and customers. It’s not easy being consistent as we all have good and bad days, but workers don’t want to deal with colleagues whose mood tends to swing wildly. It can cause trepidation and uncertainty in a workplace.
Treat everyone fairly and without favour. Nothing breeds resentment faster than if a worker feels another person or team is being treated more favourably than them. If you make a promise, follow through and deliver on it every time.
Everyone wants to work with people they can trust. Make sure your colleagues know they can trust what you say and do. If you say that you will do something, make sure you complete it or give your colleague an update as to why it’s not done. It takes time to build trust in a workplace, but can be lost quickly - so work at it everyday.
Treat colleagues how you like to be treated. If you manage staff, don’t micromanage. Tell staff that you trust them to get the job done and do right by the organisation. Most workers want to feel empowered to think for themselves and make everyday decisions in their job without having to consult their manager. Set up systems to make it easy for everyone in the organisation to make decisions. With this foundation in place, employees are more likely to open up to you if they are underperforming, struggling to handle their workload or dealing with high stress levels.
If you’re a manager, knowing how to handle your own stress can help you to offer a kind and trustworthy ear to your employees, particularly in stressful situations. This includes being able to regularly remind your staff that you’re always available to answer queries and provide advice.
Keeping colleagues informed and communication at the forefront is an important part of building workplace relationships. Few people like nasty surprises or doing work under intense pressure at the last minute. If there are additional projects or extra work coming up in the near future, warn impacted staff so they can plan for it. With some warning, workers can clear other work or just be mentally prepared for a busy week or month. Whether it’s good or bad, keep the lines of communication open.
Sometimes information is commercially confidential and can’t be shared widely, but if it can, tell staff. If the industry is undergoing change or the organisation’s sales have dropped, tell workers. They’re less likely to spread rumours and incorrect information if management is upfront when it can be.
Make sure your communication, both written and verbal, is clear. Workers shouldn’t receive an email from any colleague and be unsure of its meaning or what action they need to take. Clear communication saves time and frustration.
#4 Offer to Help
Make yourself available to help your colleagues. If you aren’t working at capacity, ask your colleagues or manager if they need help with anything. It’s not only good for your career, but colleagues get to know that you’re proactive and keen. Regularly offering to help makes you look not only like a good colleague, but also a good human.
If you have experience that another colleague can benefit from, offer to mentor them and pass on your knowledge. Being generous with your time to help others won’t go unnoticed.
#5 Support Your Co-Workers
Having a consistently friendly face in the organisation helps many workers get through their day. Make a point of saying good morning to people, smiling, making eye contact and showing a genuine interest when they speak to you.
Some people are keen to discuss their private lives with colleagues, whereas others may not be. If a colleague is happy to share, it’s important to take an interest in their lives. Make a note so you can ask after their family in the future and start a conversation. If a colleague is having a hard time in their personal life, ask if there is anything you can do to help.
#6 Be Respectful
You may not like a co-worker’s ideas, attitude, personality or the way they work. However, it’s also important to remember that everyone is different. Show respect and always be civil at work - unprofessional conduct is noticed in a workplace and you don’t want to be known as someone who doesn’t work well with others.
Everyone should help make respect a part of the culture of the organisation. Disrespectful employees often encourage others to model their poor behaviour and before long, this can lead to a toxic workplace environment. If you hear a colleague gossiping, demeaning, lying, shouting or complaining about another worker or customer, let them know in a calm voice that it’s not appropriate behaviour.
Improving Working Relationships at Your Organisation
If you're a manager who would like to know more about facilitating a workplace where building and maintaining strong relationships is encouraged, we can help. Call PeopleSense by Altius Group on 1800 258 487 or get in contact online.