Ever heard the saying “people leave people”? One of the major reasons why people are unhappy in their work or leave a company, is because of poor workplace relationships. We’re letting you into a secret, good working relationships are the magic key to unlocking a happy working environment.
You’ll know if you’ve already got a good working relationship with your colleagues. You trust each other, conversations are easy, you’re comfortable asking for help or advice, the team culture is respectful and supportive… and so the list goes on. If you’re struggling at work and find you aren’t really ‘vibing’ with your colleagues, this might sound like the dream to you. Truth is, it’s easier than you think to build and maintain good relationships at work!
Prioritising good relationships is a necessity to not only make work life a little bit easier, (because let’s face it no one really WANTS to get up and go to work every morning) but a toxic company environment can negatively affect your mental health and contribute to burnout. Whether you’re looking to build a better working relationship with your boss or your teammates, it can make all the difference in how you perceive your job, provide new opportunities, and help you on the road to career success.
What does a good working relationship look like?
A healthy relationship with your colleagues will have many characteristics and look a little different for each employee, based on what makes you tick. Here are a few signposts to look out for:
You and your teammates trust each other that you’re making good decisions that benefit the team and the company, as well as faith that you’re all pulling your weight. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses so a supportive and accommodating environment will help you operate as one unit. Your team should feel like you’re a well-oiled machine!
There is the unspoken understanding that everyone has earnt their place at the company and each individual has something unique to offer. A toxic environment is one where you feel like you have to prove yourself continuously, whereas at a supportive and nurturing establishment, you will know you’re valued and respected, even if you aren’t told all the time.
Honest and open communication
When you have a good working relationship with your boss or colleagues, conversations flow a lot easier. Receiving or giving feedback or constructive criticism is a lot easier to manage in a place where everyone feels appreciated.
Psychological safety is the confidence that you won’t be penalised or ridiculed for offering up ideas, suggestions, questions, or concerns. When you have established a good working relationship, speaking out won’t make you feel sick to your stomach, and you’re encouraged to be your fully authentic self.
Establishing good working relationships
If you’ve read through that list and are thinking, “Ok Morale, that sounds amazing! But how do I get that?”, we’re here to tell you. Building a good working relationship doesn’t happen overnight, you have to invest time into your colleagues and yourself in order to build up the trust and confidence that makes up a good working relationship.
Before you can expect your colleagues to meet your needs (and vice versa) it’s important that you really know what you want. By this we don’t mean from your career trajectory, but what you need from your team to feel heard and appreciated, or what you need in order to work at your most efficient. This will be an entirely unique set of requirements, so take a bit of time to work on yourself. For example, you might be someone who needs to you’re your work affirmed out loud by other people. That’s totally OK, just remember to let your bosses or colleagues know that at the beginning. For someone who doesn’t need that themselves, it can feel foreign, and they might not even think of it at all, so don’t be shy about letting them know.
A good working relationship is a two-way street, so ensure you’re as supportive of your team as they are of you. Take the time to listen and respect everyone’s opinions. Whether you’re in the midst of a discussion or someone has come to you for some help, give them the space to talk and make them feel heard, don’t jump in and cut them off or dismiss their ideas, even if they’re non-starters!
This one’s a little bit like the chicken and the egg, but know when to ask for help. We know this one is easier when you feel comfortable and confident, but it’s also a great way to establish a good working relationship. You won’t earn any more respect by working yourself to the bone or getting it wrong in fear of asking a question. Asking for help will help your peers see you as committed, humble, and confident- rather than weak or useless! So don’t let those intrusive negative thoughts win and go and ask for help when you need it.
Setting boundaries is a great way to garner respect from your bosses and your teammates. Here’s a Morale top tip: it’s OK to say no sometimes! Your colleagues are more likely to take you seriously and have respect for you if you’re open and honest when you’ve got too much on or are taking some downtime. Boundaries don’t just apply to workload but company etiquette too. Avoid getting too personal with your office mates, it can be hard when you’re working in close quarters all the time, but this can lead to complications. For example, you might feel obliged to stay behind late to help your friend out or take on an extra bit of work because you didn’t want to let them down. Another way to set boundaries is to bypass the classic office gossip. This is guaranteed to lose you a little bit of workplace credibility and only leads to toxicity within teams.
How to maintain good working relationships
Building good working relationships is only half the battle, making sure they stick is the next challenge. You’ll be pleased to know this bit is relatively easy and all you really need to do is just keep doing what you’re doing!
Sometimes you might find a relationship needs an MOT, and this is totally normal. Working closely with people on a regular basis will always lead to the odd roadblock. These aren’t necessarily negative and are so common in all environments. When they’re left unaddressed or misunderstood that’s when they have the power to upset all your hard work and spoil a relationship. Giving your relationships an MOT every now and again to check in with your colleagues, see what you could be doing better, and address anything that might need clearing up is a great way to ensure the relationship stays positive and anything toxic is swiftly squashed.
Genuine connections are built through good communication. A person will feel comfortable talking to you and unpack things that might be causing them concern. If you are struggling to find a way to get through to someone in your team, then try and find a goal that you both share. This can help to ease any friction and give you some topics to get the conversation started.
Just keep in mind that some people like to keep their workplace relationships strictly professional, and they can sometimes come across as cold or indifferent. This doesn’t mean you don’t have a good working relationship with them, and their choices should be respected as something that they need to maintain a positive attitude at work. As we said before, everyone’s needs vary so be perceptive and understanding.
Having good working relationships with your peers and mentors can not only give you the keys to unlock a healthy and happy work environment but promote satisfaction and success. Building a network of meaningful connections allows you to have open conversations, makes you more resilient dealing with setbacks, and actively supports your mental health. Establishing good working relationships take time to nurture but they’re worth the investment!
Let those people know how much they’re appreciated with Morale. Send out daily anonymous affirmations to those in your network and help to keep their mental health at an all-time high. Boost their self esteem, give them confidence, and affirm their goals and successes. It works in your favour too… those with greater self belief will be open to building good working relationships, so the cycle continues! What’s more, it’s really simple to use. Just download our app from Google Play or Apple’s App Store.
Whilst you’re at it, don’t forget to follow us over on our social media to stay up to date with everything going on over at Morale HQ!
We’re all ears when it comes to feedback, just send us an email to email@example.com.