3 Steps for Improving Your Relationships at Work

Contrary to the “Don’t get personal at work” philosophy there is growing evidence that strong relationships at work are a key ingredient to high performance. In Why Relationships at Work Are So Important, best-selling author Susan Fowler, a senior consulting partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies explains that “relatedness”—a feeling of connectedness and belonging—is one of the primary nutrients necessary for individuals to thrive in the workplace.

For individuals looking to improve their ability to work successfully with others, Fowler recommends a 3-step process.

  • Identify the relationships you are currently involved in at work. Are the people in your immediate circle of influence helping you achieve your goals at work? What is the nature of your relationships? If those relationships are superficial, negative, or nonexistent, then there is a very real chance that you are not going to achieve your goals—at least not in a way that is going to leave you with a sense of vitality, or joy in your accomplishment.
  • Determine if the conflict issues in your relationships are caused by a values conflict—where you see things differently, or a dispositional conflict—where your preferred style of responding is different.
  • Take action. If you are experiencing a values difference with another person, look for areas where you have values in common. Some common examples are a dedication to helping customers, or a common commitment to high quality work. If the strained relationship is being caused by differences in disposition, take a minute to explore and understand the different ways people respond to work situations. Fowler prefers a behavioral model, such as DISC, as a way to understand dispositional differences including whether a person is more introverted or extraverted, or more controlling or accepting in typical situations.

The basic human need for relatedness or meaningful relationships at work tends to get diminished in many organizations according to Fowler. Don’t let that happen in your organization.

“Managers are often taught that it is not inside the scope of a manager’s role or appropriate to deal with personal issues. But the research is clear that to ignore a person’s need for meaningful relationships in the workplace is to ignore an essential ingredient for basic motivation, vitality, and the sense of well-being that results in a person’s good intentions at work.

Check out the full text of Why Relationships at Work Are So Important here.  Also, don’t miss Fowler’s October 20 complimentary webinar on Creating Effective Work Relationships.

5 thoughts on “3 Steps for Improving Your Relationships at Work

  1. I think it really depends on the culture of the company. I am tight with my immediate manager- if we lived closer, we would probably hang out together on the weekends. But I think there are lines in other organizations that should not be crossed. I know someone that has a manager that will only divulge pertinent work related info to those that will join him out to lunch (he’s not buying by the way) or in the evenings when he will chat with them during off hours on Facebook. I feel this is inappropriate. If there is work related things going on- they should be made available to all- and they shouldn’t have to give up their personal life to gain the info that is needed to succeed in the job.

  2. Refreshing to read something that values the ‘relational’. Overall, I am in agreement with the argument “that strong relationships at work are a key ingredient to high performance”. If nothing else, it helps make sense of the kind of stats that show, as HBR Daily Stat recently did, that “Managers spend 50% or more of their time in meetings, but… two-thirds of meetings end before participants can make important decisions.” Decision making is partly about the mental process of the participants, but plays out in how people interact with eachother.

    Where I differ slightly with what you suggest is in a couple of areas. Fowler argues in the longer piece you link to that core to relatedness is exploring values and disposition, and indeed it is… I would also say it is important to look at relatedness systemically i.e. it is a question of understanding the conditions that lead to the conflict, rather than the other way round.

    I think tools like disc are useful only in so far as they open up a dialogue; I own up to having a suspicion of psychometric testing/profiling in general, as i believe it over simplifies the emergent and dynamical nature of human personality and relationships.

    Having said all that, I agree more than i disagree, and conflict is good, if it sparks debate and critical reflection like this. So thank-you! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Making work relationships work: relatedness and the relational « deboxing

  4. Great! If there is no “good relationship” in the workplace workers tend to hate working rather than enjoying it. Close relationship is needed between workers to attain productive and competent results in every company.

  5. Well,

    The colleague to be met and confronted in the work place ; does have completely proportional feeling always as you never join the company by having confirmed such things. So it is mere coincidence I would say and then facing the reality and trying to be adapted to the environment with flexibility plays some role. But then also, behavioral aspects do peep in and then real politicized feeling starts coming to climb the ladder of being appraised. Here co-operative and collaborative expression hardly works, at least in today’s work atmosphere as competitiveness has increased to a lot extent. I have adjusted to cope up with my colleague presently but then I have never got a good partner as per my wish till date where my skill set will be given a justice or a proper meaning to what I do. So people with appropriate facilities derived or received at the workplace will have positive writing in this scenario but I want to say that, the matter of relevance is always important because otherwise it will always be like closing our yes and thinking of England, nothing else. So it is always your experience to learn from the people around at least on the pragmatic level, because personal life has that liberty to decide the path of our life to lead the same with excellence and expected peace. 🙂

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