Tag Archives: Workplace Relationships

How to Get Relationship Goals at Work?

Building a Heart Shaped Puzzle

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:

  1. I know what is expected of me at work.
  2. My supervisor, or someone at, seems to care about me as a person.
  3. I have a best friend at work.
  4. 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?

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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”.

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Navigating Relationships At Work

imagesCA2VOG8J“No man is an island, no man stands alone.”

By our very nature, we were created for relationships. Be they personal or professional, we develop and maintain relationships with the people who are a part of the circles or groups to which we belong. While some of these relationships might have emerged consciously/unconsciously over time, they result in meaningful friendships which help us in the best and worst of times. This is no less true of friendships in the workplace.

For this post, I want to look at friendships as a form of relationship in the workplace. Loosely defined, friendships are those close relationships we develop with people on the job, or the people we align ourselves with, due to similarities in personality, values, and interests. Friendships also develop as a result of the huge amount of time we spend at work, or at home doing work. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that, people develop lasting friendships with the members of their teams, people on other teams(internally and externally) and even with their supervisors. Is anything wrong with that? Well… you decide.

Are friendships in the work place bad?

Do friendships help or hinder effective working relationships?

Do they need boundaries?

Can they affect how you do your job?

The answers to any of the above questions are not written down in any employee handbook. Nor are they stated in the thick operational policies and procedures manuals, that each new employee is given to read during the orientation or onboarding process for a new job. Though you should note, that, some companies have explicitly stated policies about personal relationships (intimate) in the workplace. But, that is not my focus. If you were to stop and think about your experiences with friendships at the workplace, the things you have seen, heard or felt, you might just conclude that – friendships do have impact on the work and perhaps how we work.

“Show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are”

Throughout the course of my career, I’ve witnessed and experienced first-hand, the impact of friendships at work from the perspective of  a member of a team to  manager/leader of teams. And, I can safely tell you that, this dynamic plays out quite differently from role to role. So let’s start with the question raised earlier:imagesCAFETENT

  1. Are friendships in the workplace bad? No, not necessarily. Friends are typically people we trust, and turn to whenever we need a sounding board, support, receive good and bad news. These friends are also the same persons who are likely to call us with a bit of company news (a promotion, new hire or dismissal) or relate over lunch, something they might have heard on the grapevine. Herein lies a problem, for this is how the grapevine thrives. Grapevine communication is a huge problem for many organizations. The grapevine is a medium through which rumors and gossip are transmitted, producing negative effects on company culture and creating tension in teams.                                                                                                                                                     Yet, what we often forget or overlook is that, the grapevine is not an abstract concept. It is not something running along the walls and corridors into meetings and offices, restrooms, car parks and cafeterias. One reason for the grapevine’s popularity in organizations, is that, sometimes, friends across and within teams, inappropriately discuss critical work related information and decisions, that they are privy to in their jobs with other friends ( both internally and externally). And though no harm might have been intended in sharing, the effects on the organization and on people’s lives might be detrimental.
  2. Do friendships they help or hinder effective working relationships? Yes. Friendships can both help and hinder effective working relationships. Whether it’s the case of a friend providing much needed help in completing a work assignment, supporting a proposal or point in a meeting or giving feedback, friendships can be beneficial. Friendships often help to “grease the wheels” for a more comfortable journey in the world of work. On the other hand, friendships might very well threaten effective working relationships. A friendship gone wrong can lead to grievance and discipline issues, produce negative work behaviors and attitudes such as “bad mouthing”  of and by managers and direct reports alike. Thereby resulting in, tense meetings,  decline  in performance and productivity and further  disruptions and uncomfortable situations on teams.
  3. Can they affect how you do your job? Yes, friendships can directly and indirectly affect and effect how you do your job. Favoritism in the workplace and its impact on low employee morale is nothing to scoff at. Additionally, the direct impact can be seen with the answers to questions 1-2 above. The indirect impact might be just as strong. After all, I’m sure you might have seen coworkers in a friendship relationship react negatively to another coworker on the basis of an incident/ or action taken against their friend(s) or involving them.
  4. Do they need boundaries? Yes. Establishing boundaries for what you will or can share with a friend will be critically important in avoiding any appearance of unprofessionalism, bias or breach of trust. This is especially important and true when a team member is promoted from amongst peers and becomes a supervisor. For both the new supervisor and the direct report(s) (which includes friends), the period of adjustment to this new relationship needs to be managed carefully. If you were to review any book on supervisory management, you would find that, great emphasis is placed on helping new supervisors understand their new roles and responsibilities vis-a-vis old relationships. These books provide guidance to the supervisor on the different expectations related to the new role(that of their direct reports and supervisor) and how to navigate these relationships.

I will therefore conclude that, friendships  at the workplace are important  and may even be desired. However, friendships need to be carefully managed to prevent them from  undermining effective working relationship. For  whether we admit it or not, they can and do. Hence, a lot will be left to the maturity, integrity and ethics of the individual and that of his/her friend(s). In the end, responsible and mature people with healthy friendships would never allow each other to jeopardize  their job position(s) or compromise their professional ethics.

Images Courtesy of Google.

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