good work relationships strengthen all
By tim brown
Culture | April 26, 2016
Humans are social creatures, for the most part. It’s normal to seek friendships and positive interactions similar to the way we crave food and water. So it follows that positive workplace relationships would be vital to career – and company – success.
A recent report concluded people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. Moreover, an employee doesn’t need a best friend for solid feelings to foster. Even people who simply had a good friend in the workplace were more likely to be satisfied.
Relationships. Are they really that critical in a workplace, and, if so, what defines a good workplace relationship? Moreover, how can we build these newfound treasures to bolster employee satisfaction?
The simple answer is trust. All strong relationships are built on the foundation of trust. We know the culture of trust starts at the top of the organization and is then fostered throughout the company. Trust allows coworkers to be more effective because they spend less time and energy watching their back and more on the actual work.
In my experience, I’ve found trust is built through three key practices: communication, consistency and honesty.
Whether it is between coworkers, a boss and employee or with a client, communication is essential, especially in the world of digital devices.
First order of business? Keep communication lines open. When that is consistently the case, open communication helps employees feel validated and avoid confusion, misreads and frustration.
In today’s open workspace offices, collaboration becomes the norm for teams. In fact, many companies rarely face a project that doesn’t require a group effort. Beyond the pitfalls of a lack of communication, team members could easily be left to guess what the team leader wants. As the level of frustration rises, efficiencies drop, which likely results in costs rising.
Simple preparation meetings to launch projects will alleviate much of the angst and uncertainty.
I’ve seen it firsthand. Before a project begins, a team meeting allows the leader to outline the task, objective, challenges, solutions, budget, roles, expectations and more. If done right, it also fosters an environment that allows all relevant questions. If fact, one measure of that meeting’s success could be viewed in how many solid questions surfaced and were addressed.
To be trusted, one must be consistent, both in words and behavior. Consistent behavior is simple but is often overlooked. It can start with simple steps, e.g., show up every day and on time; do the work; meet company standards; and deliver on deadlines. Essentially, do what you say you will. If you give your word about something, make sure you execute.
Being consistent can also bite you. It can be positive or negative. You can be remembered as the person who consistently underperformed or the person who was consistently exceeding expectations. And in some environments, once that brand is imprinted, others may have a hard time changing that image of you. Best part is the choice is yours. You can define who you are and your ideal self, from which others can view.
If this trait appears extremely basic, know that honesty is one of the most important practices in leaders because of its underlying influence. One measurement is to acknowledge that one moment of dishonesty can ruin an entire lifetime of a stellar reputation and trust.
Unfortunately, I’ve encountered more than one professional who has lied on their expense report. On several levels, that very act is unfortunate because 1. they sacrificed their reputation for mere dollars; and 2. despite all the good they did in the workplace, their deceit now defines them and is how they are known. It’s not worth it.
A person’s level of honesty speaks to more than who they are professionally but to their overall character. Admittedly, the basics of honesty are to not lie, cheat or steal, but the very definition speaks to integrity, keeping yourself above the fray and true to your word 24/7 week after week.
Building successful workplace relationships may be best viewed as a circle where communication, consistency and honesty connect and strengthen every individual, team and company.