Ally or Adversary? 5 Actions that Build Professional Relationships.

(Guest Author Morag Barrett, for Real. Simple. Leadership.)

How many hours a week do you spend at work with your colleagues? 40? 50? 60? How many hours a week do you spend with family and friends? My guess is that, like many of the leaders I work with, you spend more time with your co-workers than you do at home.

If relationships matter, they matter even more at work.

Your success depends on the quality of your professional relationships.

Those people without whom your success would be compromised; the professional connections that you reach out to when you have a question or are unsure of what action to take; winning relationships that empower you to achieve outstanding results together; the “I-couldn’t-get-my-job-done-without-you” relationships. It is also about those difficult and challenging relationships that drain your energy, that create roadblocks and impact your ability to deliver the goals and results expected of you, the “I-get-my-job-done-in-spite-of-you” relationships.

Having an Ally relationship at work has been shown in numerous studies to make you a better leader, more engaging to customers, deliver stronger results and produce higher quality work. An article in Harvard Business Review reported that strong social bonds don’t just predict overall happiness, but also have a significant effect on a person’s long-term career achievement, occupational success, and, ultimately, income.

Improving the quality of our professional relationships at work is not rocket science, but it may as well be. We’re all so busy keeping our heads down and eyes on the prize that we can forget to look up and connect with those around us.

These five Do’s will help ensure you create career allies and not career adversaries:

DO: Identify who you need to connect with.

You don’t have enough time to develop Ally relationships with everyone. Take a moment to write down three critical goals you must achieve in the next few months. Next to each goal, write down the names of your coworkers who could help or hinder your ability to achieve those results. These are the critical relationships that require care and attention, and the people with whom you need to proactively invest time with to develop an Ally relationship. Remember: your success depends on this person (and may be at risk if you don’t)!

DO: Talk to strangers.

OK, I don’t mean stranger-strangers, but I do mean the colleagues at work that you don’t know. It seemnetworkings to me that the “Stranger Danger” talk we are given as children weighs far too heavily on us as adults. You
go down to the cafeteria for your lunch, walk out with your tray of food, look around the room, and don’t recognize anyone… and so you go back to your office and eat alone. And yet, none of us are in Junior High. It’s OK to go and sit with the cool kids – in fact, you are one of the cool kids because you all work and play for the same team! Sit down, introduce yourself, and find out how you can help each other to be more successful.

DO: Say thank you!

When was the last time you received thanks for a job well done? Studies show that gratitude, when genuinely expressed, has a direct and positive impact on relationships. It’s not enough to wait for others to recognize your contributions and thank you, though. It starts with you. When was the last time you said “thank you” to someone on your team, or in another department? Saying “thank you” is one of the key conversational strategies within Cultivate that nurtures new relationships and improves existing ones.

When was the last time you received thanks for a job well done? Studies show that gratitude, when genuinely expressed, has a direct and positive impact on relationships. It’s not enough to wait for others to recognize your contributions and thank you, though. It starts with you. When was the last time you said “thank you” to someone on your team, or in another department? Saying “thank you” is one of the key conversational strategies within Cultivate that nurtures new relationships and improves existing ones.

DO: Personalize the relationship.

Nurturing Ally relationships isn’t easily done by email or even phone. Relationships by their nature are personal. Face time is the most effective way to strengthen your professional connections. Whether you go for lunch, walk around the office campus, or simply stop by a colleague’s desk to check in, the personal touch makes all the difference. It’s all too easy to let the hectic nature of Monday through Friday flash past and forget to make time to invest in your professional relationships. Put it in your calendar if necessary – you’ll be glad you did.

DO: Reflect and learn.

Weekly reflection is a powerful tool. Use the weekend to contemplate the larger forces that are shaping your industry, your organization, your job and yes, your relationships. Without the distractions of Monday to Friday busy work, you should be able to see things in a new light. Use this insight to alter your approach to the coming week, and improve the efficiency and efficacy of your work.

Bringing it all together

It’s not what you do that is the sole driver of your career success — it’s how you do it, and perhaps most importantly of all, who you do it with.

Through good times and bad, your Ally will have your back. These relationships will stand the test of time even if one of you moves to a new role or company.

Whether you are the CEO of a major organization, starting out in your career, a people manager or a technical leader, cultivating winning relationships is a game changer.

Remember: Business is personal and relationships do matter.

In part 2, we’ll look at 5 actions to avoid that can destroy Professional Relationships…


 

Morag-2Morag Barrett is a sought out speaker and author of the best-selling book Cultivate.The Power of Winning Relationships. As the founder and CEO of SkyeTeam, an international leadership development company she has worked with more than 3,000 leaders from more than 20 countries. Morag writes for the American Management Association, Entrepreneur.com and CIO.com. Learn more at www.SkyeTeam.com

Twitter: @skyemorag

 

One thought on “Ally or Adversary? 5 Actions that Build Professional Relationships.

  1. Pingback: Ally or Adversary? 5 Actions that Destroy Professional Relationships | Real. Simple. Leadership.

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