Work relationships can be challenging. Unless you made your money the old-fashioned way and inherited it, you usually develop connections because your work situation requires it. You share job information and work expertise, building goodwill and rapport, with colleagues or teammates. You get to know these other members of your company as you work together—either on the same project or toward the same goals—day after day. If you are an independent contractor, you nurture leads and build relationships that will benefit your business and the projects you are working on for your clients. These interactions can build trust and solid relationships if all parties involved share similar values. In any of these scenarios, you might also share personal information and develop outside-of-work friendships.
Work relationships can suffer when the project ends, the team is reassigned, or the manager goes elsewhere—whether due to completion of the work, a company reorganization, or personal choice. This results in a transition from the known “way we did things” to something new. This can be new accountability, new ownership, new rules, new staff, and/or new time schedules. To succeed, you need to adjust to your new work environment and form new work relationships.
If the new leadership values work relationships, they will also value open, honest communication about the changes that are occurring. They will see the value in a transition period that allows for relationship building necessary in any successful organizational restructuring.
No matter our job title, we all need other people. Other people—holding a variety of roles and performing differing functions—deserve our respect, patience, and acceptance.
Here are some ways you can maintain healthy work relationships during times of change and transition.
• Affirm your abilities, skills, and value.
• Recognize and acknowledge what others do.
• Speak confidently and positively.
• Listen well.
• Don’t gossip.
• Be open to changes in work relationships during times of change.
• Speak up and ask for what you need at work in order to be successful as a professional and as a team member.
Which of these strategies will you use to make your work relationships less challenging and more productive?