How to Build Good Work Relationships
Over the past couple of years, VSECU has gone through an internal transformation that has made it easier for all employees to cultivate and strengthen relationships across the organization. Over the course of that transformation, I learned a lot about the importance of relationship to personal and career growth.
The stronger work relationships are, the more individuals and teams thrive. Strong networks and connections help us learn more and achieve more in our roles. Colleagues can provide personal and job-related support, which enable us to rebound more quickly from difficult situations. With more connections at work, we feel stronger and happier, which helps us become more positive and productive employees. And all of this can lead to a larger paycheck.
How do you build good work relationships?
1 Ask questions
What does a good relationship look like?
We all have a general idea of what a good relationship feels like but defining the term can help you focus on specific elements that are most important to the work environment. Good relationships are those that are based on mutual trust and respect. The participants in a healthy, growing relationship are mindful of their behavior and words and don’t let negativity seep into their conversations. They are open and accommodating to new ideas, accepting of vulnerabilities, and ready to offer moral and professional support.
How do you build good work relationships?
Building relationships takes bravery and work. You can’t do it by sitting in your cubicle or office. You must get out and about, take opportunities, and follow through on promises. Here are a few ways you can get the ball rolling:
Ask questions—One easy way to start a relationship is to show an interest in a person or, potentially, a project. Instead of leaving meetings quickly to get back to your desk, turn to the person next to you and ask them something—whether it’s a personal question, about a project you are both working on, or about something you heard during the meeting.
Earn and extend trust—It shouldn’t surprise you that trust is at the top of this list. It is as essential at work as it is in your personal life. Without it, people don’t feel safe and aren’t able to put their best selves forward. With it, you and your colleagues can speak openly and reveal vulnerabilities. You can feel safe admitting to mistakes so that they can be cleared up before they result in disaster. The more open you feel, the freer you will be with your ideas and skills, and the more productive the whole team can be.
Respect your colleagues—Offer respect to all your colleagues, even those who you feel have not earned your respect. Teams with members who respect each other and work hard to maintain that respect thrive. Respect includes earning the respect of your teammates and your boss by doing your work well and accepting responsibility for the good and the bad. It also involves being respectful to your colleagues.
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Keep a positive attitude—Your attitude at work has an affect on everyone you work with. If you are in a negative mood, that negativity can rub off on others and become a real downer for the team. On the other hand, your positive mood can be contagious, resulting in a more enjoyable and productive experience for everyone. Instead of talking trash, talk up your teammates and other colleagues. You’ll feel better and others will feel safer around you when they know you’re a promoter (not a hater).
Leave your ego at the door—Egos get in the way of good teamwork and good relationships. Believe in the abundance of the universe. There is enough work, money, and praise to go around. You don’t have to be boastful and elbow others out of the way to get it. Just do your best and certainly allow your achievements to shine through, but nobody likes a braggart or a stage hog. Focus on praising others and you’ll make fast friends.
Engage with the team—There’s nothing worse than asking a colleague for help and getting the cold, busy shoulder. Don’t be that gal or guy. If a teammate asks you for help, jump to it and make sure they have what they need the minute you have a chance. If you help others, you will get the help when you need it and the whole team will be more productive.
Bring your whole self —The more you share of yourself, the more others will share with you and the deeper your relationships will be. Don’t sit in the corner and wait for others to draw you out. Engage with people from an authentic space and don’t just offer the skills and experience you need to do your job. Bring all your qualities to your work and make others feel comfortable bringing theirs.
How do you maintain the relationships you’ve started?
Simply continuing the above will help you maintain your relationships but there are some specific things you can do to take your relationships to the next level.
Take time to talk—We can get so caught up with our work that we forget to relate. It’s good to get away from your focused work during the day, so take ten minutes to chat up a colleague when you’re ready for a break. Bring an idea with you or a question and make a connection. These small efforts can go a long way in growing a bond.
Hang out after work—If you’re invited to go out with a group after work or hear that your company is hosting a paint and sip or another fun event, fit it into your schedule. You don’t have to take advantage of every opportunity but get out there when you have a chance. This is a good way to get to know what makes the people in your office tick, what their passions are, and what matters to them.
About Heidi White
Heidi White is the content and communications manager at VSECU. She is responsible for communicating information and ideas through the written word for the credit union’s internal and external audiences. Her passion is helping people live more joyful lives through timely, useful, and compelling content. Heidi lives in Barre, Vermont.