Workplace relationships are the type of things that make some uneasy. Given how much time we spend together we are often work with people we might never have contact with for hours on end. Terms like “work husband or wife is something that while seemingly odd is in fact of life today. Running along with that is the idea of team building exercises. To some they seem artificial and done to make managers feel better than employees. Needless to say there is a problem based around relationships in the workplace.
Not surprisingly, this is a problem I hear about a great deal when I am talking to HR leaders. Relationships are a valid part of the professional universe still this is a problem that becomes more complex by the moment. This requires human resources professionals to bring out their empathetic hat which is very difficult because we have no way of quantifying it or building analytical aspects into it. I’ve been told how many managers are uncomfortable around this.
Still we can work to engage employees via strong relationship building. The best ways to do this are:
- Be a mentor and a leader
- Work with the team to make it a fulfilling experience
- A good, or bad, experience is contagious, make sure you work from that
Let me share with you what I’ve learned from these bullets.
Be a mentor and a leader -- Mentoring helps you feel more fulfilled as a leader assuming your organization provides you the opportunity to make it a priority. When you share your knowledge and help others grow, your work life is enriched. That said, many managers only have the time to be managers - just that, managers. I am not saying that as a criticism, it’s just that in today’s environment, work is hectic, focused on short term goals, and managers want to get project A done so they can move to project B. Plus, managers may not feel like they have support from leadership to invest in these types of programs. This is also the perfect environment for a dis-engaged employee environment.
But by being a great mentor/leader you know your success is dependent on knowing the unique culture of the organization while also being able to bring in the right external elements to make the operation thrive. You can be a mentor and leader by learning what makes others great leaders and mentors and applying them to your situation.
I’ve also seen that what makes leaders succeed is that they are adaptable. They work within the culture to make it suit their needs and the needs of the team. They realize that they will be with the people that they lead for a larger portion of their week. They need to create the type of fulfilling experience that makes people want to take the workday and invest their very best into achieving great results.
Work with the team to make it a fulfilling experience-- Let me get one thing clear because I’ve seen people squirm when I bring up this point, this is not some touchy-feely idea that just makes people uncomfortable. Instead we are talking about collaboration and building strong relationships within the team that will result in a better experience.
Simply put, if you’re willing to do so you can work with the team on building that type of culture that focuses on creating the type of environment that enables and encourages people to contribute towards making it a positive experience. Office dissension can be as contagious and spread quickly. But happiness and fulfillment can move just as quickly in the proper environment.
What you, as the manager can do is make sure your team feels valued, In fact, don't be afraid to ask them what makes them feel valued. Again you need to make the time to find out what works for you and what works for them. When you have that knowledge, you’ll be able to build that relationship that drives your team to reach that next level of success.
A good, or bad, experience is contagious, make sure you work from that -- I touched on this briefly but it deserves it’s own examination. When I’m speaking with senior HR executives the subject of culture comes up in the context of their being afraid of building the wrong one. As I tell them that’s the absolute wrong mindset to start from. You don’t start there you know you’re going to build a great one and then you move ahead.
There is a quote I take very personally. It says, “when you receive recognition, it’s not just about you. It’s about the support everyone has given you to get to that point. Reflect back on who has helped you during different career phases.” I love the concept because recognition is not just about you it’s a shared attribute. It is the ultimate team success.
Let me put this another way for you. Say you earn a nice great job from someone senior to you. If you’re like most people you not only bask in the success you want to create a way that others can enjoy your experience by mentoring them and helping them achieve great accomplishments. The thrill of the good experience is something you want to make sure is shared.
There are so many other things that can help you form strong relationships each of which is applicable to the organization's culture and its management style. The three most important ones based on my experience ‘I’ve listed above.” As long as you:
- Be a strong mentor by connecting with your team and engaging them
- Work with the culture of the organization to enables a positive experience and environment
- Make sure you let positivity become a driving force and you’ll see strong and engaging relationships develop
You will see the strong relationships necessary for employee engagement to take route and be a bedrock for the success of the organization and you.