The foundations of success – Your most important relationships at work

The foundations of success logoAs if it wasn’t already one of the single largest areas of focus in our lives, factors such as increasing stakeholder demands and the emergence of mobile technology all contribute to us potentially spending more and more time engaged in our work. Add to this a growing need to find enjoyment and satisfaction from our jobs and it’s not difficult to see why now more than ever, it’s important that we take whatever opportunities there are available to shape our work environments as best we can.

Being highly social animals, relationships are the glue that bonds us together, helping us to achieve common goals, which would normally be beyond the reach of us as mere individuals. So within the workplace, what are some of the key relationships we should be aware of which can allow us to both succeed and indeed thrive throughout the course of a career?

Direct Manager

Providing direction and focus. Mentoring. Offering cover fire and experienced connection with senior management. Opening new career doors, helping you to overcome significant obstacles and generally enabling you to get on with being able to do your job effectively are many of the great benefits that can stem from building a good relationship with your direct manager.

Apart from doing your job well, in what other ways can you make your boss really appreciate having you as a member of the team? Being aware of the challenges they face can give you some insight. Remember, you probably aren’t the only focus of their time. They may have to manage several other people and have separate objectives of their own to achieve. They are here to help you do your job, but not do it for you, and they are not mind readers.

To help you gel with their management style, try asking questions to clarify and ensure you understand exactly what is required of you, and how they would prefer you to operate in achieving it. This way you can develop a feel for working together in a way that you are both comfortable with.

Be sure to let them know about any issues you feel you cannot handle yourself, before they become too a significant a problem. Nobody likes having to deal with nasty surprises at the last minute, especially if they pop up in front of more senior management.

Don’t just heap your problems upon them; if you have an issue, try to bring with you a potential solution that you can begin to discuss with them and possibly round the edges off, or at least be prepared to show what you were thinking of doing up until the point at which you got stuck. After all, they probably pay you to use your brain at least just a tiny bit to figure out how to help things move along too.

External Customers

Whether it means generating profit or otherwise, your external customers (i.e. those that your unit exists to serve) are the lifeblood and central reason for your organisation’s existence, so treat them with the due care and attention they deserve. Closer relationships with them can provide valuable insight into where you can create value for them, making you more relevant to their needs.

Customers frequently face anxiety from all sides. Anxiety over making the best choice from an abundance of options all claiming to be able to give them what they need. Anxiety that the product or service will be delivered as they envisioned. Anxiety over the impact on their business if it isn’t.

So give them reasons to hold you up as the paragon of service – reasons to come back. Use your expertise to better explore what their needs really are. Deliver on your promises. Exceed them. The waiter who carefully places the dish down in front of the customer and enquires as to whether everything is to their liking doesn’t just deliver the goods promised; he delivers a positive experience. Even in times of crisis, the courtesy of keeping your customer informed allows them to manage the situation rather than subjecting them to the black hole of not knowing what’s going on (more anxiety), and what contingency they should put in place. If your customers feel they can rely on you to keep them happy, you’ll end up happier too.

Internal Customers & Colleagues

Working with people who have a mutual appreciation for one another can make daily efforts that much more rewarding, not forgetting that challenges can also be more easily overcome when explored from multiple viewpoints.

As with your external customers, seek to find out what those who depend on you need to make their interactions with you more satisfying and valuable. And on occasion, be prepared to share a little of who you are. Otherwise known as ice-breaking, this is one of the first steps to demonstrating that you are not a threat, but here to help.

In each of these instances, there are great benefits to be gained from taking a little time to understand your colleagues’ or customers’ circumstances so that you can better deliver results that they want in the way they want them. This alone will go a long way towards building closer bonds of trust, enabling easier mutual progression and in some instances, enriching your life even beyond the workplace.

Steve ChadAbout the Author:

Steve Chad is a marketing professional, parent and author of ‘The Tao of Work Fu’ (£14.99, Panoma Press). He has a post-graduate degree in Organisational Development and an accumulation of observations from over 20 years working with small, medium and global companies, which inspired him to publish The Tao of Work Fu.

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