I have often been asked why some work relationships are highly effective while others remain mostly combative. What impacts the success of two people or a team interacting together in a supportive and productive way? Constructive work relationships can make or break an organization’s success. A leader who is unable to master the skills to lead a highly functional team may require coaching on how to cultivate healthier interactions between co-workers. What behaviors do employees need to successfully build constructive relationships and what are some barriers to building these most productive interactions?
Here are some of the skills and behaviors I think are critical for creating healthy work relationships:
- Can be candid with peers– It is critical to be truthful with team members and give constructive suggestions in order to work together. Functioning with a hidden agenda can derail any interaction.
- Can quickly find common ground and solve problems for the good of all– Part of connecting with others is discovering what we have in common and building on those similarities. Additionally, keeping the team’s goals ahead of individual goals, can help you stay focused.
- Easily gains trust and support of peers-Without trusting one another, a team can become very dysfunctional. How can you gain trust? One important way is to carry out what you said you would do. Make sure your word means something and you are actually willing to walk the walk and talk the talk.
- Is seen as a team player and is cooperative– Being part of a team means performing your job responsibilities with professionalism and care. We all want every team member to be held accountable and to perform in a supportive and cooperative way.
- Can represent his/her own interests and yet be fair to the other groups– Of course we all need to offer our ideas and opinions to our co-workers to add value to our team. At the same time, we need to make sure we are open to others’ points of view either within our team or in other departments or teams.
- Encourages collaboration– All teams must have players who want to work together in order to achieve the best possible end result. We need to find ways to better collaborate and that might actually mean we need to be more creative and open in our approaches.
With all these behaviors, the most important piece to healthy work relationships is strong and effective communication. Clearly expressing ourselves with the appropriate non-verbal cues such as tone and body language and active listening can begin to create high performing work environments. What other behaviors have you found helpful for developing and maintaining healthy work relationships?