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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Building Work Relationships

As managers and bosses, you have lots of responsibilities, right? You have to worry about P&L, customer service, staffing issues, etc.

I have another responsibility to add to your list: relationships. You are responsible for relationships. In this post, I'm not writing about relationships outside the organization, like with customers or vendors. I'm talking about relationships inside your organization. So, what relationships are you responsible for? I'll mention 3 primary ones for today:

Team Members: You have people working for you, people you need to guide, direct, encourage, teach, etc. It's very hard to do a good job at any of these facets of management without having a positive relationship with your people. Oh, you can be a boss without having much of a relationship with your team, but you want folks who are committed to the group and the mission, not just compliant. A positive relationship is required to have committed people...and it's your responsibility to develop it. I know that relationships are two-way, but you are the boss so the responsibility is yours. See my post on coaching and 1:1 meetings for ways to build team member relationships.

Peers/colleagues: All bosses should be busy (let's assume you all are) and don't have a lot of free time at work. Add to it that, more and more often, people work in less proximity to each other (especially managers). It's very easy to have very little to do with your peers. Maybe you get on conference calls with them periodically or you see them at regional or company meetings, but often there are very few times peers get together. So, how do you develop relationships with other managers, most of whom are not physically near you? Pick up the phone. Make an effort to talk with your colleagues, see how they're doing, ask their input on something you're doing, etc. Teamwork doesn't just have to happen in one branch, team or project group. Teamwork can happen when peers and colleagues have relationships established and then can call on each other when the occasion arises.

Bosses: I know I just mentioned, above, that supervisors are responsible for relationships with their people. I do believe they have the primary responsibility. Still, you're a professional, aren't you? You don't have to wait for your boss to establish communication in order for you to reach out. Find out how you can help him or her be successful. Volunteer to help with a project or item that your boss is working on. Be ready to give your input on an issue (even solicit the opportunity)...check in with your boss to see if he or she is doing OK. There's a good chance that your boss is also challenged in relationships with peers and colleagues and could use a friendly, trustworthy ear. You may have the opportunity to be that resource.

Positive relationships can definitely impact an organization, maybe even being a key factor in its success. As a manager and boss, it's your responsibility to help build and encourage those relationships. What other ways can you think of to build relationships inside an organization?

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