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Building Relationships in the Workplace: Key Tips for Career Growth



In the modern world of work, It is not enough to simply have the necessary skills and qualifications for a promotion. One must also have strong working relationships with colleagues and superiors. In fact, focusing too much on skills without considering relationships can be detrimental to career growth.


In this article, I will discuss the importance of building relationships in the workplace and provide specific tips on how to strengthen these relationships.


Strengthening Relationships in the Workplace


It is not uncommon for individuals early in their careers to hit a wall when trying to advance in their companies. This is often due to a lack of attention to building relationships. To address this issue, I would like to share five tips for strengthening relationships in the workplace.

  1. Be Authentic: It is essential to be your true self in the workplace. People can often sense when someone is not being genuine, and this can harm relationships. It is important to build trust by being honest, transparent, and authentic in all interactions.

  2. Communicate Effectively: Effective communication is key to building strong relationships. This means actively listening to others, being clear and concise in your own communication, and being open to feedback. Effective communication can also help to avoid misunderstandings and conflicts.

  3. Collaborate: Collaborating with colleagues can help to build strong relationships. This means working together towards common goals, sharing ideas and knowledge, and being willing to compromise. Collaboration can also lead to increased creativity and innovation.

  4. Show Appreciation: Showing appreciation for colleagues and their contributions can go a long way in building strong relationships. This can be as simple as saying thank you, recognizing their achievements publicly, or offering to help them with a task.

  5. Invest in Relationships: Building strong relationships takes time and effort. It is important to invest in relationships by taking the time to get to know colleagues, attending social events, and participating in team-building activities. This can help to build trust, enhance communication, and foster a sense of community in the workplace.

By following these tips, individuals can demonstrate to management that they are ready for a promotion. Strong relationships can lead to increased job satisfaction, a sense of belonging, and ultimately, career growth.


For example, imagine an employee who has excellent technical skills but struggles to communicate effectively with colleagues. They may find it difficult to advance in their career because they are not building the necessary relationships with others. However, by focusing on communication skills and collaborating with colleagues, they can build strong relationships that will help them to advance in their career.


Common Mistakes Individuals Make When Trying to Build Relationships in the Workplace


There are some common mistakes that individuals make when trying to build relationships in the workplace.


One common mistake is trying too hard to impress others. This can come across as insincere and may harm relationships rather than building them. It is important to be authentic and genuine in all interactions.


Another mistake is not being responsive to the needs of others. Building relationships requires give and take. It is important to be responsive to the needs of colleagues and to be willing to help when needed.


A third mistake is not being open to feedback. Effective communication requires being open to feedback from others. It is important to listen to feedback and to be willing to make changes based on that feedback.


Finally, a common mistake is not investing enough time in building relationships. Building strong relationships takes time and effort. It is important to prioritize relationship building and to invest the necessary time and effort to build strong connections with colleagues.


I encourage individuals to be mindful of these common mistakes and to take steps to avoid them. By being authentic, responsive, open to feedback, and investing in relationships, individuals can build strong and meaningful connections in the workplace.


How You Can Be More Responsive to the Needs of Your Colleagues


Being responsive to the needs of colleagues is an important aspect of building strong relationships in the workplace. One way to be more responsive is to actively listen to colleagues. This means paying attention to what they are saying, asking questions for clarification, and demonstrating empathy.


Another way to be more responsive is to be proactive in offering help and support. This can mean volunteering to take on a task, offering to provide assistance when a colleague is struggling, or simply checking in to see how someone is doing.


It is also important to be aware of the needs of colleagues and to be willing to adapt to their working styles. This means being flexible and accommodating, and being willing to make changes to better support the needs of others.


In order to be more responsive, it is also important to be timely in responding to requests and messages from colleagues. This means responding promptly to emails and messages, and following through on commitments in a timely manner.


Finally, it is important to be respectful and professional in all interactions with colleagues. This means treating others with kindness and respect, and avoiding behaviors that could harm relationships, such as gossiping or speaking negatively about others.


By being responsive to the needs of colleagues, individuals can build strong relationships and demonstrate their value to their organization. As an HR and leadership consultant, I encourage all individuals to prioritize relationship building and to be mindful of the needs of others in the workplace.


Examples of How to Demonstrate Empathy in the Workplace


One way to demonstrate empathy is to actively listen to colleagues and show an interest in their concerns. This means really paying attention to what they are saying and asking questions to better understand their perspective. For example, if a colleague expresses frustration with a project, you might ask them to explain what specifically is causing them difficulty, and how you can help.


Another way to demonstrate empathy is to acknowledge and validate the feelings of others. This means recognizing and accepting their emotions without judgment. For example, if a colleague expresses anxiety about a deadline, you might say something like, "I can see that you're feeling stressed about this. Is there anything I can do to help you meet the deadline?"


Being supportive and offering help is another way to demonstrate empathy. This means being willing to provide assistance and support when needed. For example, if a coworker is struggling with a difficult task, you might offer to help them brainstorm solutions or provide feedback on their work.


Finally, it is important to be respectful and considerate in all interactions. This means treating others with kindness and understanding, even when disagreements arise. For example, if a colleague has a different opinion on a project, you might acknowledge their perspective and work together to find a solution that meets both of your needs.


By demonstrating empathy in the workplace, individuals can build strong relationships and create a positive and supportive work environment. As an HR and leadership consultant, I encourage all individuals to prioritize empathy in their interactions with colleagues and to strive to create a workplace culture that values kindness and understanding.


Conclusion

Building strong relationships in the workplace is essential for career growth and overall job satisfaction. By being authentic, communicating effectively, collaborating, showing appreciation, and investing in relationships, individuals can demonstrate to management that they are ready for a promotion. As an HR and leadership consultant, I encourage all individuals to prioritize relationship building in their careers. By following these tips, individuals can create a positive and supportive work environment and build meaningful connections with colleagues and superiors.

 

Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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