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Building Effective Workplace Relationships

The subject of relationships is a complex one and we can't possibly cover everything in this article. One point of clarification though. I am talking about fostering, developing and nurturing workplace relationships. It´s important to have good workplace relationships. We are social beings. Some people we just connect with easily, others take a little more work to build the relationship.

The fact is that those people who are involved in good workplace relationships are more likely to be happier and more productive than those who are in fragmented relationships. When you consider how much time we commit to our working lives, both in and out of normal working hours, it´s imperative for everyone to cultivate working relationships.

How to develop good workplace relationships

Why Have Good Relationships?

Nobody likes living a life of isolation. A bit of peace and quiet is nice on occasions but we have a basic need to interact with other like minded people. Quality relationships provide motivation and enhance the quality of our lives.

Developing good workplace relationships is important for a number of reasons:

  • They develop trust
  • They create a more harmonious atmosphere
  • They inspire cohesive teamwork
  • They promote a positive organisational culture
  • They build internal and external reputations
  • They open future doors

Defining Good Relationships

There are many things that serve to nurture and enhance workplace relationships and of course different people place different values and importance on different characteristics. However, the ones I have identified below are essential for keeping those relationships on an even keel.


A small word with a big impact. Trust is the building blocks of any relationship and is the very foundation that they are built on. Most people would move hell and highwater for someone the trusted because they know their efforts are not in vain.


If trust is the building blocks then, integrity is the cement that keeps those building blocks locked together. It is the moral values, the ethical principles, the actions we take and the behaviours we display when there is no-one around to see them.


You may place different degrees of importance on different characteristics. You may not always have the same outlook as others and you may often disagree on certain issues. However mutual respect is a core value of any working relationship.


The above characteristic paves way for diversity in its entirety. Diverse personalities, backgrounds, cultures and opinions when taken as whole and not fragmented, provide an excellent opportunity for developing processes that ultimately help you progress towards your common goal.

How to build a successful team

How to Build Good Workplace Relationships

One important thing to remember whilst establishing, developing and nurturing good workplace relationships is:

People will usually only want to stay in that relationship on the proviso that it is meeting their needs. If they are not getting what they want out of it, they will cut the ties of the relationship and look to seek out one that caters for their needs.

Think about that for a moment and look at your different workplace relationships.

Are you?

  • The leader
  • The supplier
  • The customer
  • The co-ordinator
  • The coach
  • The colleague

If you failed to deliver on competitive price, comprehensive training, total quality service or any other manner of variables that the balance of the relationship may hinge on, what would happen?

Identify Your Relationship Needs

All parties in the relationship have needs and having these needs met is a critical two way factor in any relationship. Of course as mentioned earlier, you may have differing needs but in any case, they still need to be met. There are several below for consideration.

  • Humour and distraction from daily stresses
  • Support and appreciation
  • Shared goals
  • Open communication
  • Honesty
  • Admitting mistakes and saying sorry

Schedule Time to Build Relationships

building teams

You don't necessarily need to schedule in your diary to build relationships between 11.00 and 12.00 but you do need to set some time aside to pay attention to this.

  • Providing guidance to your team
  • Assisting a struggling colleague
  • A call to a customer that involves no selling
  • A coffee break with someone from another department
  • Some genuine praise for a job well done

These are all very hands on ways to develop relationships but there are other opportunities too. These days social networking is a major part of relationship building. More than sharing ideas with like-minded professionals, it´s a nice feeling to be able to give someone help or advice and not expect anything in return.

Difficult Relationships

Of course, not all relationships run smoothly. Sometimes you work with people that you really don't see eye to eye with. It could be that there is still resentment from a past issue or it could just be down to personality differences. You may never be the best of friends but you can maintain a professional working relationship. Don't focus on the differences. Focus instead on what you can achieve together through mutual professional respect.

In truth, this is another complex area and to do it justice, probably lends itself better to its own future post.

What are your thoughts?

Leave a comment in the box below if you would like to share some information or ask any questions



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