If people feel happy and comfortable around each other, they will be in a much stronger position to focus on doing their best work not only for the organisation, but for each other.
But how are these connections built? What actions can managers and team leaders take to help people form strong bonds and working relationships?
As simple as it might sound, personal relationships are built (at least in part) on conversation. For people to get to know each other, they need to talk, and not always about work.
This is particularly relevant in our modern age of ubiquitous technology and digital communications, where it’s easy for someone to write a quick email or send a colleague an instant message instead of actually talking to them. Encourage your staff to forgo these forms of communication and speak to their co-workers in person.
Have co-workers solve each other’s problems
Getting people working together and coming up with new solutions to common problems is a great way to build relationships and show how a collaborative workplace can contribute to business performance and success.
Someone who has been struggling with a particular challenge for a long time might find that a colleague from another part of the business can offer a fresh take on their conundrum. This approach also supports professional development and fulfilment by giving employees the opportunity to learn about other departments and company functions.
Demand respect between colleagues
Unfortunately, workplace bullying and harassment are relatively common problems, particularly for larger businesses where there may be a bigger risk of unacceptable conduct going undetected.
Zero-tolerance policies on any sort of inappropriate or disrespectful behaviour should be established and observed from the very top of the business, all the way down to the most junior positions. Co-workers being aware of these expectations and living up to them is one of the core foundations of strong workplace relationships.
Arrange activities and social events
For some, work away days and social events have taken on a certain stigma – associated with awkward team-building exercises and activities that have no obvious point or benefit. However, approached in the right way, there is no reason why the odd excursion out of the workplace can’t deliver positive results for your workforce and the business.
One of the most important considerations is simply to make it fun. Getting people laughing and enjoying themselves will break the ice between new co-workers and help people to feel relaxed around each other. It’s also possible that teamwork activities could help participants learn something about the value of collaboration.
Deal with problems in an open, honest way
It’s inevitable that there will be moments of friction in a business and times when strong characters clash. What’s important is not trying to avoid these incidents altogether, but dealing with them in the right way.
If senior figures and business leaders work to create an open, communicative environment, staff are more likely to speak up about any issues they have. This will enable quicker understanding and resolution of the problem, eliminating the risk of grievances going unrecognised, which could lead to a more serious dispute in the future.
Posted by Julie Tucker
Image courtesy of iStock/nortonrsx