Working Relationships

  | James Innes

Working Relationships Affect Productivity

There are many working relationships which exist within an organisation and how effective these relationships are can play a significant role in dictating the overall effectiveness of the business. Working relationships can mean those between the company and its customers/suppliers, those between a manager and his workforce and those between colleagues in each department. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, there are a number of key factors which can determine whether these relationships are healthy, productive ones or whether they will have a detrimental effect on the business. It is generally accepted that a happier workforce, one where good relationships are in place, is a more productive workforce. Good relationships are built on a culture of cooperation where each individual is working towards the achievement of shared aims and objectives.

Understand People's Needs

Before effective working relationships can be established, it is important to remember that every one person is unique and, as a result, have differing needs, emotions and objectives. It is impossible to build up a relationship with someone unless you have a good understanding of what these things are and to accept these even if they differ from your own. The most effective way of coming to understand your colleague, your employee or your customer is to establish effective channels of communication with them and to listen to what they have to say carefully. This can lead to mutual respect and understanding being established and is a key factor in developing a good working relationship. If the relationship is a productive one, people will have no difficulty in being open and honest about their feelings. Holding one-to-ones or group meetings are excellent ways of improving communication within a business, as long as each individual is encouraged to make their own contribution to the discussions. It is even healthy to encourage debate on key topics so that each person has the opportunity to voice their opinion. By making people feel that their view is important and respected by others, more effective relationships can be established.

Gain Allies

Working relationships are very important because they can provide you with an ally, someone who can support your cause and who can help you to resolve problems. The relationship has to be a two-way street where you both offer each other advice and support rather than one person doing all the talking and the other expected to do all the listening and advising. It is also important to publicly acknowledge the important role the working relationship plays in any successes that you enjoy. For example, as a manager, it is important to recognise the successes of your staff; by showing them that they are valued, their confidence will improve and they will be more likely to reward you with their commitment in the future.

Trust And Its Rewards

Trust is a key factor to ensuring the success of any working relationship, as is respect. By demonstrating the ability to keep your colleague’s confidences, you will earn their trust and they will therefore reward you with the same courtesy. The minute there is any suspicion of people working against each other or behind their backs, trust will be lost and it can be impossible to regain this. If you disagree strongly with something that a colleague has said or done, it is much better to address this with them directly rather than taking it up with a manager. The same applies to relationships with customers; if you make a promise to deliver a product or service to them within a certain time and to a particular standard of quality, your relationship with them will suffer dramatically if you fail to live up to their expectations of you. If you fail to deliver on your promises, to customers or to your employees, they will find it impossible to respect you and this is no basis for a productive working relationship.

Good Working Relationships Are Mutually Beneficial

A great deal of time and effort should be invested in the development of working relationships to ensure that they are mutually beneficial and productive. You should encourage your staff and your customers to express their feelings and, if possible, interact with them in a relaxed, informal environment as this can help them to feel more comfortable about voicing their opinions. Listen carefully to what they have to say and share your own feelings with them. Making the relationship work both ways will help to encourage mutual trust and respect. Take stock of working relationships on a regular basis to ensure that all parties feel that they are running smoothly and to resolve any issues before they become significant. And, finally, encourage team building activities across the business in both formal and informal settings. These are pivotal to the development of working relationships where people are encouraged to work together towards the achievement of shared objectives, just as they should be doing for your business.

Authors Bio: James Innes, Author of five best selling careers books and nearly twenty years experience.

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