Working Relationships: From Workplace Friction to Seamless Collaboration


BLOG VIEW: Mutually-beneficial working relationships can bolster a company’s overall success, affecting everything from productivity to employee retention. However, like all relationships, great workplace relationships take both work and time to grow.

Colleagues may struggle to work with one another for a variety of reasons, such as differing communication styles, conflicting meeting routines, absence of transparency or lack of trust. When we overcome those challenges, we reduce workplace friction and build proactive partnerships.

Try the following steps to cultivate more positive working relationships.

Determining Communication Styles

Each of us communicates differently due to our unique identity, and those differences can be a dominant factor in our interactions on the job. Broadly, communication styles fall into three categories: assertive, direct, or reserved. Considering these varying communication styles can lead to more constructive, collaborative interactions.

One way to frame communication styles is to consider what they reveal about colleagues’ expectations for one another. For example, those with a reserved communication style may be frightened by direct criticisms, while those with a direct communication style may be irritated by roundabout interactions. 

Once you realize that differing communication styles are causing problems, use the opportunity to discuss interpersonal expectations. 

Identifying and understanding your own communication style is key. Being self-aware can be challenging. You can leverage feedback from peers or colleges if you are unsure of which category you may fall into. Consider your communication style and contemplate the audience that you are engaging. Allow those with reserved communication styles an opportunity to speak, or perhaps additional time outside of a discussion to consider their ideas before coming back with a solution or takeaway.  

Outlining Meeting Routines

After discussing personal communication styles, it is critical to determine meeting routines that satisfy your colleague. Some people love quick, five-minute daily check-ins. Others prefer an in-depth, formal, weekly meeting. Agreeing upon a routine-based schedule can be a critical component to a working relationship’s steady production.

Another key factor to a constructive partnership for meetings is committing to a consistent routine. By agreeing on the timing for regular communication, the partnership will maintain a more streamlined and collaborative nature. 

Setting Shared Goals

Setting shared goals is another important step in building a fruitful working relationship. In the first 30 to 60 days of a partnership, determining achievable goals will guide the overall direction of the working relationship. Consider established and upcoming action items to improve the goals’ relevance and timeliness.

Is there a monthly sales or production goal that you both share? Try to identify something you have in common at the onset of a new relationship. Discuss a shared vision and goal and something you can each contribute to accomplish the target. 

Be inquisitive. Discover how the goal is attained today. What is being done every day to ensure that monthly target is being tracked? This is a time to establish a routine to help nurture and foster the goal.

Goal-setting also provides an opportunity to gain understanding of your colleague’s needs and the needs of the organization.

Developing Trust

Developing trust takes time. Often, colleagues slowly increase the level of trust with their peers through a long-standing commitment. For example, when a colleague recognizes that their counterpart is considering their communication style, valuing their needs, committing to a consistent meeting routine, and working toward shared goals, it organically builds trust. 

It is important to recognize that trust is earned by doing, not telling. 

The foundation of trust is doing what you commit to as a business partner and peer in the workplace. When you walk away from a meeting or discussion with action items, follow through and do them. Communicate with the parties that were in attendance to advise that you completed the takeaway or share your roadblocks. 

Developing trust takes time, but it is essential to the long-term success of a working relationship. Commitment to help, showing initiative, and confirmation are key to building trust.  

Maintaining Transparency

Successful working relationships crave transparency. As the relationship grows and more responsibility is undertaken, honesty is essential to ensure the continuation of the evolving relationship.

Additionally, a beneficial workplace partnership encourages polite and candid feedback. Consistent evaluation of the success and operations of workplace relationships, such as the relevance of goals, number of goals achieved, rate of production and complexity of routines, helps grow the relationships.

Companies need employees to value profitable working relationships. These five steps have the potential to strengthen working relationships and therefore, strengthen the overall success of the company.

Michele Kryczkowski is senior vice president, national fulfillment, for Planet Home Lending.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views, policy, or position of Planet Home Lending, LLC. 

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments