Everything in both your career and a thriving workplace!
Well, that’s the quick answer. Investing in professional relationships can also be:
- Time consuming
- Boring at times
- Typically, all about the other person
Seasoned leaders feel all of these things at times too but ultimately, they understand that investing in professional relationships is really important! How you invest in people can look different depending on the circumstances. You may:
Organise weekly meetings with one of your team leaders: sure, they are likely autonomous but when you make the time to check in with the people you rely on daily to lead functions or others, you’ll give them the opportunity to discuss challenges, roadblocks and have your input which reduces the chances of being blind-sighted down the track.
Take a team member to an event with you: while giving you a chance to spend some time together, this also gives people a break from their office/home office and exposes them to different people and environments.
Show you care about people on a personal level: even the most dedicated of workers are people at the end of the day. People with families, interests outside of work, life challenges… keep the lines of communication open.
Here’s my question to you: who do you need to invest in? Make a list — think about how investing in someone else may benefit you in the short or long-term. The best leaders understand that thriving workplaces and careers are about giving and taking.
Sometimes, we can work beside people for years and think we know everything about them that there is to know. More often than not, we don’t. We only know what information we’re receiving on a surface level because we haven’t made any effort to really get to know that person.
If you’re asking yourself the hard questions and come to the conclusion that you have mostly superficial relationships, consider what makes them superficial. What do they look like? Some tell-tale signs may include:
- A lack of depth in conversations — do you find yourself saying, “Good morning” or “See you tomorrow” to others but not much else?
- Feeling a lack of motivation — sure, some people can sit at a desk all day without any interaction but most people need some level of people contact and interest. Just because someone is quiet and does their job well, this doesn’t mean they are happy at work.
- Noticing that others are withdrawn — yes, people’s tasks and responsibilities are important but the workplace environment is equally important. You’ll find that your best performers genuinely enjoy who they work alongside, in addition to how they are spending their day.
If you want to have good working relationships with your colleagues (or let’s face it, anyone in your life), you have to invest in them and respect that people develop connections at a different pace. You have to invest time. Getting to know someone well — I’m not talking about their coffee order or what they order for lunch from the café every Friday — takes a lot of time.
Once you have established strong relationships in the workplace, everything changes. You will start to trade stories with others, reciprocate favours, communication is streamlined and when difficult issues arise, you’ll feel like you can be open and transparent because you’re not talking with a stranger.
Making the time to understand someone provides us with great insights into everything from their personality (are they more introverted or extroverted?), their tolerance for stress, signs they are struggling and so on.
So, when was the last time you felt that someone really invested in you?
Deborah Wilson is a Thought Leader and a Career Strategist. She takes a personalised approach to strategic career coaching and career transitions, mentoring and leadership development. Deborah provides expert guidance for individuals while supporting organisations through change and connecting people and purpose.