Managing Critical Relationships in the Workplace
By Pamela King
Solid relationships within the workplace have a profound impact on productivity. Mastering three key skills can create an environment of trust, teamwork, and creativity.
Skill One: Create a Culture of Appreciation
The ability to express appreciation is a foundational strength in the most productive, well-functioning businesses. Noticing what is working well, thanking others and highlighting accomplishments builds a culture of appreciation and respect which impacts morale and productivity.
Example: Alan has noticed a lot of negativity in his division lately and finds he is becoming more and more discouraged. He decides to genuinely thank someone every day for the next week. Then he starts complimenting co-worker skills to other co-workers, sort of a positive gossip. Within a matter of weeks he has changed his role in the negativity and is noticing changes in others too—even receiving compliments from others for his efforts!
Skill Two: Solve your Solvable Problems
Overwhelmed with problems on every front? Try looking for the first step in solving a small problem. Crossing one issue off your list creates energy for tackling the next one. Solving solvable problems creates a ripple effect for solving more challenging problems.
Example: Betty was concerned about Lee being late on most days. She thought if he was more timely in arriving it would impact his overall work performance. Betty watched for the next week for exceptions to him arriving late. Lee was late four out of five days. On Wednesday he arrived a few minutes early and chatted with his coworkers. When Betty talked to Lee the next week she said, “Lee, I notice many days you arrive late which is a big concern to me; however, last Wednesday you were not only on time but a few minutes early. I wonder what made that possible.” Lee and Betty went on to discuss what made that day successful and how he could apply that to other days. The whole conversation took 10 minutes, whereas a formal reprimand takes up to two hours. Betty was surprised at how well Lee responded to the conversation. The next week he was on time three of five days. Betty thanked him for his effort in establishing this new routine.
Skill Three: Find Common Ground
As you look for solutions, highlight what is already working. When you are on opposite ends of an issue finding one or two points of consensus creates a willingness to continue discussions.
Example: Bruce has been having problems with company stakeholders. He opened a virtual meeting by asking what everyone thought was going well; after they discussed their successes he asked what one change would make operations run more smoothly. One procedure was repeatedly mentioned as needing improvement. There was disagreement about how to make changes. Bruce said “let’s identify what is working in this area and then go from there.” There was consensus on a few procedures that were working ‘just fine.’ This laid the foundation for respectful negotiations and the team was able to agree on two small changes that were good starting points.
Implementing any one of these strategies will create a positive change in the workplace environment. Intentionally striving to incorporate all three into a company’s culture can have a dramatic positive impact on staff, employees, and productivity.
Pamela King, MS