Work relationships can be just as challenging as intimate ones. One wrong move can not only deliver a blow to your existing employment, but also to your reputation and bank account. The road to recovery, though doable, is often arduous and undesirable. But there is good news. You can transform your work relationship. Effective work relationship skills are acquirable and when mastered can be transferable to relationships with friends, family, and your intimate partner. Below are steps towards building an effective work relationship.
The first step to building an effective work relationship is assessment. It does not matter if you are assessing a new work environment or an environment where you are the veteran. Assessment is critical and it is your responsibility. No one knows you better than you. No one knows your work relationship back stories better than you. Done correctly, your assessment will produce answers that will help you map out your future.
Get quiet and silence your thoughts. Observe the ecosystem that is your workplace. Push through any discomfort to ask yourself the tough questions. Do I currently fit into this ecosystem? Are there steps that I can take that could make my current work situation a better fit? What is my workplace footprint? Am I making solid contributions? Can I thrive here? Do I like it here? If you do not enjoy your work then you are probably just doing the minimum and nothing exceptional.
Analyze the overall emotional climate in your workplace. Similarly, ask questions that help you flesh out whether your work environment is a healthy one. Are the conditions at my job contributing to my development or degradation? How often do I encounter negativity? Am I being bullied? Am I negative? Am I part of the problem? These questions are designed with two-part accountability in mind. Both you and your company share equal responsibility in creating and maintaining the work relationship. Companies need good talent just as much as you need to maintain your livelihood. Moreover, companies are not fond of spending money to recruit new talent and restart the on-boarding process.
If your assessment uncovers sole company negligence, then hold them accountable. If the assessment reveals that your behavior contributes to an unhealthy work environment, then accept responsibility and engage in personal and professional development. Some examples of this development can include: investing in coaching sessions to improve areas that are in your blind spot, requesting an updated performance report, and seeking the support of a mentor. Healthy relationships take work. However, when you gain the skills to improve and transform your relationship challenges, the work yields significant rewards.
The second step to building effective work relationship skills is learning to navigate a work challenge with bold accountability. The process of holding your company accountable to their role in the work relationship may seem like a daunting task. It is probably stirring up anxiety right now. View this step as transforming a challenge into an opportunity by using it as a catalyst to improve your relational skills. Here are three tips to help you through the accountability process.
Accountability Tip #1: Be Brave
Push through discomfort to initiate a solution-oriented meeting with those who pose a challenge. Plan a 30-minute meeting at a minimum. Get confirmation via calendar invites and emails. Adjust the meeting time as needed to allow ample time for all parties to feel safe, listen, and respond. Remember any discomfort you felt after uncovering your part in an unhealthy work relationship is just an indicator that you are being called to a higher level of maturity. Answer the call and use this meeting to uncover new relational skills that will increase your maturation.
Accountability Tip #2: Be Organized
Use a 6-part simplified agenda that exhibits respect for participation. Begin the meeting with gratitude. Thank all parties for spending this time with you. Admit your contribution to the work environment without excusing your behavior. Pause and listen intently to their response. Share your actionable suggestions. Pause and listen intently to their response. Collaborate, customize, and finalize action steps that all parties are accountable to. Agree upon a follow-up meeting. While you may have several work challenges, choose the one you feel most confident and comfortable discussing. Remember: (1) welcome and thank you; (2) your vulnerable admission; (3) participant response; (4) your suggestions; (5) participant response; and (6) action steps and next check-in meeting.
Accountability Tip #3: Be a Leader
During meetings, resist any opportunity to accuse, name call. or mud-sling. Operate as a leader and anticipate a positive outcome as you believe the best of each participant. Continue modeling leadership qualities as you use honest, personalized “I” statements to describe your challenge. Sincerely and intently listen before responding. Monitor your tone as you ask clarifying questions. When you decided to take action to transform your workplace relationships, you simultaneously became the relationship leader. Even if the meeting includes a supervisor, your leadership and responsibility does not change.
You can start transforming your work relationship today. Whether you decide to stay or go, you will have the peace of mind and closure that comes with giving this very important relationship matter the attention it deserves.