• Aida Xie

Who Says Office Relationships Need to be Negative?

Building positive workplace relationships is essential for career success. Relationships can affect your satisfaction with the job, your ability to advance and gain recognition for your achievements. When you build positive relationships, you feel more comfortable with your interactions and less intimidated by others. You feel a closer bond to the people you spend the majority of your time working with.

A global study found that almost 80% of people who quit their jobs cite “lack of appreciation” as their reason for leaving. To point fingers at manager competencies or employee rifts does not solve any issue, the most important thing to remember is to learn and grow from every scenario faced in the workplace. In another research, employees who have a good friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged with their job, and feeling more connected with colleagues can boost productivity by as much as 25%. Promoting an environment where all employees get along, with no conflict or disagreement is by no means easy. There are a host of reasons why employees may not always see eye to eye. However, there are a few simple steps that managers and employees can take to encourage positive and amicable workplace relationships that are good for everyone and the business.

Picture by Jopwell

Define everyone’s roles and clarify expectations

In an ideal world, team members should feel like cogs in a machine powering towards a common goal, completely in sync. However, many misunderstandings that arise in the workplace stem from not knowing how everyone fits into the bigger picture. Conflicting responsibilities or not knowing the responsibilities of others makes the team disjointed, creating animosity and can bring the whole engine to a grinding halt. The first step is to ensure that everyone understands what they are responsible for, where they can rely on their colleagues and where flexibility is expected. Do not make people guess your undisclosed expectations. Communicate with clarity and do not expect something from someone that you have not specifically asked for. Having a clear understanding of what your expectations are of everyone and how they need to work together, will clear up any misconceptions and encourage collaboration and support within your team.

No favoritism

It is well-known that the playing field at workplaces is rarely level. Everyone has their favorites and managers are no different. You have most likely witnessed favoritism at play at some point in your career such as the same person getting the best projects or being the first to be given new tech or training. This might be unconscious rather than intentional, but either way, it can be damaging to the morale of a workplace and resentment can fester from other employees towards these ‘apples’. This will disengage employees from their work as well as create a divide within the team that could be irreparable. As a manager, you need to develop an awareness of your own unconscious bias and make sure every employee is treated fairly. To increase the team’s overall productivity, consider everyone’s performance and potential objectively and reward accordingly. If possible, ask for input from other managers and be prepared to receive honest and open feedback.

Communication and taking feedback

Communication is undoubtedly one of the most vital keys which will impact your relationships with colleagues and every interaction yields a learning experience. The role of effective communication is crucial in achieving the goals of working together in an organization and carrying out the work which will help attain success. However, poor communication may cause turbulence after which the blame game could be endless. As part of the human nature, it is easy to assume that the person ahead of us has understood what we intend to say. This might not be true all the time. Therefore, taking feedback is critical. This will help you understand if your message has been understood in the intended manner. If the message has not reached the intended party as expected, corrective actions can be taken at the same time. In another scenario, if your manager consistently criticizes your job performance, see how you can improve by being vocal and asking what you should fix. If you get some constructive feedback, work on it and focus on how you can improve your work further.

Greetings and saying thank you

Greeting a co-worker may sound like something ordinary, however, as long as we are discussing ways to build a productive work environment, this cannot be ignored. You may be surprised by its beneficial impact on your colleagues. Being humble never hurt anyone, even if you do not exactly receive something in return. Moreover, you must maintain eye contact with your fellow peers if you wish to gain their trust. This will provide the necessary infrastructure to build a capable team. In the event that you get some tough love or just flat out criticism, surprise your manager with a positive attitude by saying thank you! Maintaining a balance and incorporating mindfulness at work can help you deal with difficult situations. Instead of dwelling on the past or wondering how an interaction may impact your future, staying clear-headed and focused on the present will help you navigate through whatever is happening. Furthermore, your powerful, positive presence can infectiously spread throughout the office.

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