Everything you ever achieve in life generally, and at work specifically, is significantly impacted by the relationships you forge with others.
This includes your relationships with bosses, colleagues, suppliers, customers, as well as your business associates and mentors. You will need the goodwill of others to progress.
And you can only expect that, if you actively choose to cultivate good relationships. Most people underestimate the value of building good relationships. In 2001, Dr Daryll Hull and Vivienne Read, from the University of Sydney, with backing from the Business Council of Australia, undertook a study to examine some of the top- performing workplaces in Australia, and analyse the reasons for their success. The research then offered insights on what these workplaces had adopted as their best practices.
Their work identified 15 major factors that separated excellent workplaces from the generally good ones. These factors or “drivers” were present to varying degrees in all the outstanding workplaces they surveyed.
The study advocates that organisations can create excellent workplaces. And the characteristics that support an exceptional workplace are discernable, measureable and manageable. It even went on to say that there is no magic in this process. The first of the 15 drivers identified was “the quality of working relationships”.
This simply means that people relating to each other as friends, colleagues and co-workers played a major role in making an excellent workplace.
Organisations that have people supporting and helping each other to get the job done are the most successful ones. In simplistic terms, you are happy to wake up and go to work, with a spring in your step, when you like the people you work with.
Conversely, if you end up working in an organisation with colleagues who are insufferable nitwits who don’t support and help you, it really disheartens you. Many of you spend more of your waking hours with co-workers than your spouses or families.
As such, it is really essential that you work at building quality relationships with the people that you work with. In my experience with training and coaching, team cohesiveness happens only when co-workers forge decent relationships based on mutual respect and understanding.
When I started my firm, EQTD Consulting in 2002, I focused primarily on conducting team building and team dynamics sessions. And you most likely know this narrative.
Your human resource department organises a session where you and your co-workers get bussed to either a seaside location or a hilltop resort.
You all then proceed to spend the next two to three days engaging in all manner of team-building activities that may include jungle trekking, kayaking and some other weird or strenuous action events.
Everyone gets to hold hands and sing along to rousing music that espouses the virtues of working together.
Upon completion of the programme, you would be invited to declare your newfound commitment to your organisation and pledge to work together for a common vision.
But three days after coming back from your trip, when the euphoria of the “ra-ra” session subsides, you would look around your office and nothing much would have changed from before the team-building session.
The people you dislike, continue to annoy you. The conflicts that were present before, remain. Until next year’s team-building event, of course.
Yes, this is the narrative, is it not? I started my life as a corporate trainer conducting these sessions. After some time, it dawned on me that these programmes served a very shallow purpose. The feel-good factor had a limited shelf life.
The commitments that participants made were not sustainable. The motivational element never lasts in people if they are themselves, not grounded on some meaningful purpose.
No amount of team-building activities can create good vibes in an organisation, if co-workers do not establish meaningful relationships.
And meaningful relationships cannot be forged in an artificial or forced environment. After some years of dabbling with the run-of-mill team-building programmes, I recalibrated EQTD’s programme and rebranded it “Making Teams Work”.
The focus became building workplace relationships by first establishing personal purpose for each participant. This was followed by helping them align their personal goals with their organisation’s goals.
Finally, the session would get anchored on co-workers establishing appropriate communication strategies that will help them build strong bonds.
The emphasis moved away from “motivation” to “education”. Team connectivity depends on mature and professional relationships.
And you will function more smoothly together when there is a personal element to your relationship with others in your office. The most successful leaders exemplify how to do this effectively.
They take the trouble to be genuinely interested in the lives of their colleagues, without being obtrusive. Aside from this, you also tend to not contribute ideas in groups that you are unfamiliar with, unless you are an extroverted person.
The situation in Malaysia often gets exacerbated because of our general “over-politeness”. Good ideas get waylaid simply because you don’t communicate with people you are unacquainted with.
Common goals that are clearly communicated, positive after-work experiences and problem-solving successes will contribute to the consolidation of workplace relationships.
Focus on developing good relationships with your co-workers based on respect and trust because this will help you get the results you want. Shankar R. Santhiram NST Opinion You WRite 29 OCTOBER 2016 @ 7:53 AM