People spend a huge amount of time each year at work. Outside of work we get to choose who we spend our time with and in general we have great relationships with people most of the time.
Work on the other hand is a little bit different. A group of people, often with very different backgrounds and aspirations come together and are tasked with building relationships and delivering great results. Sometimes it can be a challenge and in reality is a huge cost to business too.
One of the big challenges for people in teams is that there is always a deadline or target to meet. As a result people tend to get their head down and be focusing all of their time and energies on doing things.
While it is great to be productive, research shows that the levels of productivity are only one dimension of success. Positivity or the environment in which people operate is also a key factor.
As the manager or team leader, there are a number of things that you can do to create successful workplace relationships in teams
Decide to make it a priority. Sounds really easy in theory, but in practice it is very different. If you are like most people you are identified as being a possible manager or team leader because you have built up a reputation for delivery and getting things done. Trouble is that you can easily fill your schedule doing and never make managing a priority.
Get to know your team. One of the things that really surprises me is just how little managers and team leaders know about their people. In fact when I ask people in workshops when was the last time they sat down and really got to know people, the vast majority have done very little. If you are going to create an environment where people are motivated and inspired, you need to know what makes people tick.
Be a role model. In other words manage or team lead by example. Show people how they should be behave, interact with colleagues and communicate by demonstration. This is often one of the most powerful ways for people to learn.
Treat people fairly. Yes there will be people who you get on with better than others and this is perfectly normal. At the same time make sure that you treat everyone fairly.
Become an expert listener. I often hear people talk about communication as being important and it is. At the same time I know that most accountants do a pretty good job in the areas of written and verbal communication. Listening however, not just amongst people in accountancy but more generally is not as common.
Recognise the contributions of people through feedback. In my experience few people turn up for work with the intention of doing a bad job. About 98% of the time people deliver great work and yet when it comes to appraising or giving feedback all of the focus on the 2% that did not go to plan. Start spotting and pointing out the good things that are happening and being achieved.
Facilitate constructive challenge. The idea of a great workplace being conflict free is not reality. It is going to arise from time to time. As the manager or team leader you want to facilitate conflict and challenge becoming something positive and constructive, rather than destructive.
The Bottom Line: Creating and maintaining successful workplace relationships is not task and finish but continuous work in progress.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants and professionals to be more effective team leaders.