Getting things done correctly and on time is a daily challenge in today’s fast paced working world. Lack of time and resources, more responsibility, higher performance demands, restructuring, and job changes have fundamentally changed the way work is completed. Based on real world experience, along with a variety of research, it is obvious the majority of workers today are depending more and more on others to help them complete their work. Or they should be! Often these are individuals with whom you do not share the same goals and might not have any authority over.
Can you think of someone who didn’t have to help you with your workload but did so anyway? Ever wonder why the heck they decided to help you? Is it because they already knew you? Or is it perhaps because you had helped them in some way in the past? Maybe they did so just because you had developed a personal connection with this person based on some things as simple as mutual respect, common interests, and shared values?
The bottom line is, better working relationships help us do our jobs more effectively, with less effort and less stress. Always a good thing! I have said it many times and it holds true today more than ever, people generally like to help other people. Especially those they have gotten to know better, genuinely like, trust and also know they can count on you. Those that don’t just make it all about them. People are willing to help others who they know, like, and connect with, especially if the relationship is one of give-and-take. Knowing how and with whom to build these “strategic” relationships is an important part of any job and requires special skills.
Strategic working relationships can help you in a variety of ways. It can help you get assistance when you need it, often without even asking. Important information is often needed to complete a task or project and these same relationships can help ensure you get what you need, in a timely fashion. That in turn can help avoid problems that might occur otherwise. These same relationships can help provide you with an invaluable support network, as well as a sounding board and second opinion, when needed. And last but not least, building these more effective, strategic relationships can help us all have more FUN while achieving our goals and advancing and enhancing our careers.
Building strategic working relationships is often mistakenly labeled as not being genuine. Or it can be seen as using others for your own gain. It is NOT! Perhaps it is the use of the term “strategic”. It doesn’t mean just being nice to others. And it’s not purely about using others to benefit you and your goals. The KEY objectives of building better, strategic relationships at work are to:
- Focus on and develop solid, long-term working relationships with people you count on to help you get your job done.
- Taking the time to proactively build these relationships
- Collaborating so that BOTH parties achieve their work goals. A win-win outcome!
QUICK TIPS FOR SUCCESS
*Send thank you notes(hand-written preferred!!) to those who have helped you.
*Make sure that the appropriate managers (unless that is you) know when one of their staff has helped you. Catch ’em doing something right today as I always say.
*Offer to help someone as least 1X per week.
*Be extremely aware and in tune with the need to pass along any and all needed information. Better too much than too little.
*Here’s an important and often uncomfortable tip. Try it, it works over time when genuine and real. Identify the person you LEAST like working with and compliment them on something they have done. One Minute Manager praisings work well here!
*Be conscious of using casual work settings such as the elevator, break room, lunch area, etc. to introduce yourself to someone who could help you achieve your goals. Not always easy and comfortable, but it can pay big dividends for both of you, in many ways. If you struggle with small talk, chatting it up a bit, being proactive in this way I might suggest finding a book called “The Fine Art of Small Talk”, by Debra Fine. It has a lot of lists, tips and choices on how to break the ice and get to know people a bit better no matter your introversion or extroversion.
Leaders and successful people, consciously or unconsciously, have learned you “can’t go it alone”. The power of working with others, building better relationships at work, making it not just about you but also about them makes life much easier. And it can certainly help your career and the level of success you achieve!