Take a minute to write down the three critical goals you must achieve in the next few months. Next to each goal, write down the names of your co-workers — your work relationships — who can directly impact and help your success (or potentially undermine it).
- As you consider each person, how would you describe the health of that working relationship today?
- Is it healthy and focused on mutual success, or is it better characterized as one that is tense and more adversarial?
If you now realize that you are party to a work relationship gone sour, don’t panic. You can turn this around. Whatever the reason for why you find yourself where you are, you owe it to yourself to make the first move to effect change.
Here are four conversational strategies that have been proven to turn around troubled work relationships:
- Align: Set the rules of engagement for how you will work together
- Adjust: Make course corrections when needed
- Applaud: Celebrate success and recognize the value you bring
- Baggage: Clear the air!
These powerful strategies will make a difference in your professional relationships at work. I make a point of regularly discussing the “how” we are working together with my team and clients. These conversations provide an opportunity to make the implicit explicit, to ensure we are on the same page and pulling together.
If nothing else, I encourage you to make the relationship pulse check part of your day-to-day conversations. These questions will help you diagnose the health of work relationships and make immediate corrections as needed:
- What’s working for you?
- What’s NOT working for you?
- What’s one thing I can do to help your/our success?
It’s not rocket science; however, I have learned (personally and professionally) that knowing what we should be doing is not enough. Doing what we should do, consistently and especially in the tough times, takes care and attention. It requires commitment. You can’t just be an ally on Tuesdays at 2pm. This is a 24/7 way of operating.
If you do nothing but ask these three questions on a regular basis, I guarantee the quality of your work relationships will improve. Whether you are the CEO of a major organization, starting out in your career, a people manager or a technical leader, this is a game changer.
Relationships are built or destroyed one conversation at a time.
Good communication skills are crucial to productive and mutually beneficial work relationships. AMA has seminars and resources to help.