Tips for Managing Relationships in the Workplace
There are many different relationships that we interact and come in contact with on a daily basis in the workplace. This can range from relationships with your boss or fellow co-worker to relationships with clients, or even the relationship with the FedEx guy that drops off packages every once in awhile.
Regardless of who the relationship is with, it is important to constantly work towards strengthening and bettering these relationships. Therefore, when the going gets tough or you need assistance with something, you have allies on your side to help you get through it.
One relationship that companies often take advantage of is their relationships with third party vendors. Oftentimes people don’t feel this needs as much attention as other relationships (say your clients) as they work for you. However, although you are their client, think about the positive things clients do that you appreciate. Are you doing those same things for your vendors?
- Reach out – Every holiday season we send out greeting cards to all our clients AND VENDORS to put a face to our company and name. This builds a deeper bond and allows us to become more than just another email in their long list of clients. This humanizes us, and let’s them know we appreciate them
- Value their Expertise – You clearly hired them for some value-add they bring to the table. You need to rely on them as experts for their knowledge of the topic, software or area that they are in.
- Provide honest feedback - Feedback can be positive or negative. Again, this is constructive feedback, not telling them how terrible they are. Vendors love to learn more about how they can serve you better and use your feedback to better their relationships with other clients.
- Let them know how grateful you are - Don’t just call them asking for things or yell at them when things are not going perfectly. If you like their service, reach out and tell them. If you appreciate the work your sales rep or account manager is doing for you, see if you can let their higher up know. You can also give them positive reviews on their site or a third party site (Yelp, Facebook, etc.) Ultimately, the biggest thank you or token of appreciation is sending them a referral!
Oftentimes organizations focus so much on selling and bringing in new business that they do not stop and realize the most important relationship they have is with their current clients. It is important to note that both you and the client are responsible for the success or failure of this working relationship.
It is imperative that you accept responsibility for your actions and acknowledge that your decisions and your actions, either direct or indirect, impact your client’s ability to do their job well.
- Transparency - It is vital that you and your client have open lines of communication where you can be completely forthright and transparent with them. A lack of communication and understanding is usually at the root of most problems associated with clients. It is inevitable there will be disagreements or setbacks that are either unforeseen or unwanted, but if you are completely transparent with your client, they are much more apt to understand that you are on it, and working towards a solution. It is never a good idea to sweep things under the rug as issues will always find there way out in some way, shape, or form.
- Pick up the phone – We have gotten in the habit of merely sending clients emails or reports and forget there is a human being on the other end of that communication. It doesn’t hurt to pick up the phone and let them know you are human as well. Chat with them, build rapport, and don’t be afraid to have a conversation with them!
- Listen – Listening is such an undervalued tool in today's workplace. Oftentimes, people make assumptions or believe they understand what it is their clients need, when in reality the clients aren’t even 100% sure. Having great listening skills allows you to identify key messages being communicated.
A great way to really understand what it is your client is asking for or what they are trying to communicate is to repeat or reiterate what they just said to confirm you are on the same page. Oftentimes what they say is not always what they mean, so hearing it back may actually lead them to better articulate exactly what it is they are looking for.
I have long maintained that business people like working with people they not only respect, but also personally like. Therefore, developing a personal relationship with your coworkers goes a long way in building a stronger business relationship and is crucial to your workplace happiness. Your coworkers are much like having roommates, you don’t want to be that guy or girl who no one wants to live with!
- Get to know the person behind the job – Get to know the coworker’s family situation, what they like to do for fun, how they spend their free time, where their interests lie and, most importantly, what motivates them on a daily basis. When you understand what makes them tick as a person, you can translate that into your business relationship and relate to them on much more personal level.
- Be Accountable – Do what you say, and say what you do! This goes a very very long way. When you tell someone you are going to do something…DO IT! This includes following up with key team members, letting them know you are on it, and keeping them in the loop on your progress. Although you know it is getting done, not every person may be on the same page or be abreast to where you are at in the process. Keeping everyone is in the loop is key to making sure everyone knows you are getting it done.
- Do great work - This might seem like painfully obvious advice for developing a solid relationship with your coworkers, but it really holds true. When you do great work, people respect you, especially people that rely on your work to make their lives/jobs easier!
Forming long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships in all aspects of business is a recipe for success, no matter who you are dealing with. Although some of this advice is common sense, some of it is forgotten on a daily basis! Taking time to build relationships in the workplace will help keep the wheels of business turning in a very productive, healthy fashion.