Are Relationship Goals for Workplace Relationships Too?
When it comes to romantic relationships, #relationshipgoals is the hashtag most used to
highlight the ideal or desired romantic relationships. According to Slangit, “relationships goals is a phrase that refers to an admirable relationship.” But in the context of work and workplace relationships, what does relationship goals look like? Do #relationship goals even apply?
According to research, we spend one-third of our lives at work. This means that during any given week, most of us spend more time with our coworkers than we do our loved ones.
Therefore, the quality of our workplace relationships has a significant impact on the quality of our lives. Most of us know from experience or observations how strained or bad workplace relationships can create toxic work environments and how good workplace relationships can help us to thrive. So, how much effort do we put into building and working towards relationship goals at work? In this article, I will explore the importance of relationships at work, how the worker -employer relationship is evolving in the new world of work and offer some tips to help us achieve relationship goals at work.
Why Relationship Goals at Work?
Think about your best and worst work or team experience? For the best-case scenario- what made it great and enjoyable and for the worst-case scenario- what made it so difficult or challenging? Chances are that the nature of your workplace relationships with your supervisor and coworkers accounted for the biggest difference in your experiences. Bad workplace relationships at work can lead to low levels of job satisfaction, poor cooperation and teamwork, low employee morale, lack of trust, breakdowns in communication and a loss of productivity due to conflict and a stressful work environment. On the other hand, when employees have good workplace relationships, it builds camaraderie, increases collaboration and team performance, fosters creativity, and boost overall performance and productivity.
This view is supported by a McKinsey & Company article which states, “there is a strong
connection between happiness at work and overall life satisfaction. The article points out that bosses and supervisors play a bigger role in employee happiness that we might have guessed. And that “relationships with management are the top factor in employees’ job satisfaction, which in turn is the second most important determinant of employees’ overall well-being.” I would also add that this works both ways as the job satisfaction of bosses and supervisors is also influenced by the quality of their relationships with their teams. Afterall, happy employees mean a happy and less stressful work life. Right?
Changing Nature of Relationships in the New World of Work
According to a Deloitte article, “the pandemic strained and tested the worker-employer
relationship beyond anyone’s anticipation. Employers were called upon to support workers’
health, livelihoods, and dignity to an unprecedented degree, and their success—or failure—to do so came under unprecedented scrutiny.” If employers supported their staff well, they were praised highly and rewarded with employee loyalty. If they ignored work conditions and failed to do enough to support and safeguard their employees, they faced the backlash and a wave of resignations. With the Great Resignation, and the War for Talent, employers are increasingly concerned about employer and worker relationships as they try to recruit and retain the best talent. At the same time, with the rise of hybrid and remote work, many employees are taking advantages of new opportunities to choose where they work and how they work as they seek to preserve work-life balance. So, going forward how can we build and maintain relationship goals at work?
How to Build Relationship Goals at Work
When it comes to assessing what employees want and need to be happy, productive and engaged at the workplace, the Gallup Employee Engagement Survey suggests that there are 12 questions that employers need to use to assess this. A quick review of the questions reveals that four of them are directly linked to building positive relationships between supervisors and direct reports, coworkers to coworkers and interactions of the whole team. The four questions are:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
- My supervisor, or someone at, seems to care about me as a person.
- I have a best friend at work.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
These four questions reinforce the fact that at the heart of any healthy and positive workplace relationships are qualities such as good communication, care, support, and a feeling of being valued.
So, here are some tips to help you to build and maintain relationship goals at work?
- Establish needs and expectations: To build effective interpersonal relationships at work, it is important to clarify what the people you work with need from you and set expectations for working together from the start.
- Recognize and Affirm: People do their best when they feel valued and recognized for their efforts. If you are a supervisor, find out how your direct reports want to be recognized. As coworkers, use your team meetings to connect with each other and celebrate achievements and milestones.
- Help Others Feel Safe: Psychological safety is a huge component of employee wellbeing. Create environments where people feel safe to express themselves. As a supervisor, help your employees to know that they won’t be judged or penalized for failing or making a mistake. If anything, help them to fail fast and early and provide the supports they need to recover quickly.
- Show Empathy (That You care): According to Maya Angelou, people will forget what you did and said, but they will never forget how you made them feel. Remember, there is ‘no one size fits all’ approach to leading and managing. Show that you care by taking time to listen and demonstrate empathy to colleagues that might be going through a tough time.
- Prioritize Communication: When it comes to workplace relationships, it is better to err on the side of overcommunication rather than under communication. In these uncertain times, it is important that managers and leaders’ share information clearly and frequently to help employees stay on track with the mission and navigate change and transitions. As an employee, seek feedback, ask questions to understand and clarify.
- Do What You Say You Will Do: Nothing breaks trust or confidence in a relationship than not honoring your word or doing what you said you would do. As you work in teams and support others, it is important to follow up and follow through with tasks assigned as people might be relying on you for key inputs to complete their task.
- Respect difference: We don’t have to agree to respect each other. People come from different backgrounds and bring varied experiences to the rooms they walk into. Avoid the way of thinking that suggests that the other personal must be wrong for you to be right. Despite our differences, we have more in common than what sets us apart.
- Assume Positive intent: With less and less in person interactions, it’s easy for communication breakdowns to occur. Due to language, channel, and tone, the message being sent might be different from the one received. Rather than taking offense, Assume Positive Intent (API). Ask for clarification rather than relying on your assumptions.
- Build Trust: Trust is a crucial ingredient for any relationships to work. But remember trust requires both competence and character. You can’t expect people to trust that you will do your job if you have not demonstrated the competence or capabilities to execute. Similarly, you might be skilled in an area, but if you show up as unreliable and inconsistent, you will not be able to gain the trust of those you work with.
- Be Adaptable: People are different in the way they lead and approach the world so avoid the comparison trap. Don’t let your biases for how you would like to see things done stand in the way of a new idea or process. Be open to new approaches, different personalities and leadership styles and try to understand the culture of your environment you’re in. Then be intentional about identifying ways that you can add value to the team.
So back to my earlier question, are relationships goals for work too? You bet they are. Great relationships take time and effort and are totally worth it. So, until next time, Remember, “ItsALearningLife”.