HR & Management

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How to succeed in your most important relationships at work

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The glue that creates communities is relationships, and they depend on a factor that world renowned thought leader on leadership and performance Stephen Covey describes as the one thing that changes everything; trust.

Simply delivering results can be a great, fast way to build peoples’ trust in your capabilities, but you can also build trust in your integrity by being considerate of the way in which you do things, as well as consistently following through on your promises and doing what you said you would. These two factors can both mark you out as a reliable “go-to person” and greatly enhance your reputation.

But there’s one more facet of trust which can influence all the others – your intent. If your intent is true, you will find that other people sense it too and many of the other aspects of building trust will come naturally. What do I mean by “true intent”? Well, while it’s true that most of us are trying to improve our lot through our work, it’s important to recognise that one of the best ways to do so is to focus on how we can serve others to create value that they will be happy to pay for. If we honestly put our customers’ needs at the front of our minds, our actions will be congruent.

Build trust at work and you enhance your value to the organisation – increasing the likelihood that they will take measures to keep you happy such as promotion, salary increases, perks or new and interesting opportunities. Even if they don’t do it proactively, you’ve created yourself a good bargaining position.

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But one workplace relationship in particular that can go a long way towards both developing and amplifying your value is the one you have with your direct manager. A key part of their job is to help you be able to do yours as effectively as you can. And thinking beyond just providing direction and focus, they can help you to overcome significant obstacles, mentor and coach you, and in some cases help you open doors to new career opportunities.

Considering the different facets of trust mentioned above, viewing your boss as an internal customer can help you focus on figuring out how you can help them to help you. Try asking them what are their pains and pressures, and how can you help to alleviate them?

Common “ailments” I have heard man managers express include:

They would prefer you to raise any significant issues you encounter early on before they become too much of a problem. In fact, the earlier the better; last minute panics cause stress and are often more difficult and costly to resolve, that’s if it’s not already too late to do anything about. You may find with your manager’s help that what you thought was a problem simply required a different point of view; instantly you may have saved yourself much anxiety and that most valuable of resources, time.

Yes, they want to help you overcome significant problems you face – but don’t want to have to solve your problems for you. Your manager and organisation probably employ you to use your intellect to find a way around most challenges you come up against, so when you do hit a wall, if at all possible, at least try to think up a possible solution. Even if you believe it has some flaws, highlight your concerns or at least show them what you were thinking up until the point at which you got stuck.

Exploring their preferred management style and how they would like you to operate can also help you both get a much better understanding of how you can gel and work successfully together, and regularly asking your manager for feedback not only ensures that they are happy with your performance, but can also shine a light on any areas in which you might need help developing.

Throughout each of these strategies runs a common theme – not being afraid to share. Sharing is an expression of trust in itself, and lies at the root of forging successful relationships, whether with your manager, other colleagues or customers. Don’t ignore the chance to try it out; it could make the difference between a 9 to 5 drudge and an enjoyable career that brings you fulfilment even beyond the workplace.

The first Monday of February is so notorious for absenteeism that it’s been named “National Sickie Day”, and the decision to call in sick, according to Nigel Purse, is influenced by a person’s relationships at work. As such, at the heart of a leader’s ability to have meaningful social interactions is the ability and emotional commitment to hold authentic, two-way human conversations

Steve Chad is a marketing professional and author of “The Tao of Work Fu”.

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