Workplace Relationships - What Does Responsibility Mean?

In the workplace, everyone interacts with each other. This is how society organizes itself and communicates together at work. These relationships are valuable for the opportunities they create to improve performance of individuals, as well as benefiting them, by creating a more useful and interesting place to work. Each person in the team has a responsibility and a vested interest in making these relationships work, for their mutual benefit.

When you are a manager, there are steps you might take to rebuild a damaged relationship. Or perhaps it's vital to start off a whole new team of people and hit the ground running by creating the right environment for working together.

As an employee, you need to have a voice that's heard in an appropriate setting and also, where you can, show that you too can add value by the contributions you offer.

In practice, 'responsibility' is all about doing your bit (and maybe a little more) to oil the wheels of the relationships you have with all of your colleagues, at whatever level of hierarchy they might be, such that everyone is a winner.

This is not a time to take sides, so this is vital for everyone who shows up each morning to do their bit. Whether you are one of the senior management team or newly recruited this week, it doesn't matter.

There are five critical activities that anyone creating a workplace relationship needs to be aware of - and be prepared to put into practice.

1. Show Commitment

By being onside and decided to make the difference, whatever the history, you are starting a process to build relationships, even if it means you have to rethink your position as well a bit.

2. Let Go Of The Past

Relationship building can be made much more difficult by 'history'. This is a time to lead from the front, whichever position you are coming from and bury your own hatchets, ready for progress.

3. Be Interested in Others

You'll build relationships faster if you dump talking all about yourself and make sure you ask questions that will help you get to know people better. Yet, this isn't actually the point. It's that you are showing that you are interested that counts.

4. Take a Breath

Leaving space for others to say their piece is a vital part of building relationships with anyone, remembering that when you are prepared to listen, you will stand out in a crowd, where others simply do not do this, making you all the more attractive for the ongoing relationship.

5. Create Trust

Following through with what you say you will do; being as open and honest as possible; giving and accepting feedback, as well as showing confidentiality and discretion, are all tiny and still vital tactics to adopt when building new and maintaining existing relationships.

These are the actions of all sides of the responsibility calculation where relationships are created or lost.

Everyone has a part to play and everyone is just as equally a contributor to the overall challenge, for which the outcome is always going to be of great value.


© 2013 Martin Haworth is a business and management coach and trainer, working worldwide with SMEs & corporates and based in the UK. He has extensive experience in the delivery of one- and two-day training programs on a whole range of tactical management skills to be found at the workshops we do as well...

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