Effective relationships are a precious commodity, but when you need a workplace relationship it is too late to get it. Many people make the mistake of not investing in others at work until they really need to. Perhaps they walk past the receptionist each morning without saying hello and then wonder why they are not keen to help when needed.

Some people are just not wired in a way that helps them to understand that not only are workplace relationships the right thing to do; they are also the smart thing to do. It may be common manners to acknowledge others when they walk in a room and offer to stay back and help a colleague; but some workers missed the memo on office etiquette.

Why are workplace relationships critical?

Employees who have strong Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and are natural relationship builders seem to find rallying the troops to stay back and finish a client proposal easy. The truth is, when others invest in you when there is nothing else to gain besides building an effective workplace relationship; it feels right and it becomes mutually enjoyable and beneficial.

Learning the art of building effective workplace relationships is worth the effort as it will undoubtedly assist you in career success. If you have taken the time to recognise the work of others, attend office celebrations and you know the names of your co-workers’ children, there is a strong chance that you will not be short of help when you need it.

Talking to a co worker only to ‘get something done’ is disingenuous and will cause reputational damage. Connecting with colleagues in a genuine manner when there is no personal gain will build trust and respect. The following are some key benefits of positive workplace relationships:

  • Collaboration and team work increases: genuine and mutually beneficial workplace relationships increase collaboration and team work and make ‘getting the job done’ much easier.
  • Trust and respect are always on the agenda: when employees show respect and interest in each other, trust and respect are built. This means that employees are less likely to question someone’s intent with a workplace decision and conflict decreases.
  • Increased engagement and culture: a workplace where employees respect each other is one where there will be more fun and reduced conflict. This increases job satisfaction and boosts motivation.
  • Accountability is increased: when we have strong workplace relationships and care about others at work, it means that we are less likely to drop the ball and leave others to do our share of the work. Strong workplace relationships make you feel more accountable to deliver.
  • Morale is boosted: it is fair to say that morale in many workplaces has taken a hit in recent times. When dealing with such ongoing challenges, it is so much easier when we feel that our work mates are genuinely interested in our wellbeing.
  • Interesting work opportunities are created: when strong relationships are in place, there is a higher chance of interesting work opportunities as you will be the sort of worker that others want to be around.

5 Key steps to build a strong workplace relationship before you need it

1. Always be genuine and kind

Kindness is always key to strong workplace relationships, but it must come from a genuine place. If you are going to stop and ask someone about their weekend, take the time to look at them and openly listen to the response. Start taking note of who looks under pressure or is having a challenging day and be the first to offer a helping hand.

2. Don’t wait to reach out to others

If you don’t know Sam in accounts, don’t wait until you need a monthly report created before you introduce yourself. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to others within the business. You may want to start with, “Hi there, we haven’t met before so I wanted to come and introduce myself. I’m Alex and I work in marketing. I will be able to help you out with any website queries. Can you tell me a little bit about your role in the business?” This simple statement lets the other employee know who you are and how you may be able to assist them in the future. It then encourages them to do the same.

3. Invest in relationships

Relationships are like bank accounts, if you don’t invest in them; you will quickly go into the red. Building and maintaining relationships takes more than a casual smile at the coffee machine. You may not feel comfortable asking anything personal, but why not enquire how their sales presentation went or congratulate them on their valuable contribution at the departmental meeting. Investing regularly in others shows a genuine interest and goes a long way to building strong workplace bonds.

4. Be reliable and honest

Building a strong workplace relationship comes from demonstrating ongoing honesty and reliability. If you told a colleague you will come in early and help them set up for a presentation, then follow through. Don’t be a person that agrees in public and complains in private. If feedback is required, be honest and deliver it with compassion and integrity.

5. Ask for feedback

Nurturing a positive and healthy workplace relationship is about determining if things are going well for both parties, not just on your end. Have the confidence to ask, “is there anything that I can do to make your role easier?”, or “would it help you if my part of the report was finished earlier in the week to give you adequate time?”. These types of questions shows peers that you are interested and aware of your impact and serious about working in a manner that also works for them.

Be the worker that everyone wants to be around

Strong workplace relationships are built on many factors, but they are rarely successful when there is negativity at play. When we face challenges at work, a positive mindset goes a long way to determining the right solution and maintaining effective relationships.

If you are the sort of person that looks for the silver lining, offers support and operates with integrity; others will seek to do the same for you. For some people, relationships at work are an ‘optional extra’ right up until they need to leverage it for help. A workplace relationship doesn’t have to be a last minute thought or something we are forced into. When sought out with genuine intent they pay dividends both personally and professionally.

Further information

For assistance with your workplace matters, Members of Ai Group can contact us or call our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 for further information.

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Georgina Pacor
Georgina is Senior Content Writer and HR Specialist – Publications at Ai Group. She is an accomplished Human Resource professional with over 20 years of generalist and leadership experience in a broad range of industries including financial services, tourism, travel, government and agriculture. She has successfully advised and partnered with senior leaders to implement people and performance initiatives that align to business strategy. Georgina is committed to utilising her experience to create resources that educate and engage and is passionate about supporting members to optimise an inclusive workforce culture that drives performance.