Making Work Enjoyable and Productive
How good are the relationships that you have with your colleagues?
According to the Gallup organization, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. People who have a good friend in the workplace are more likely to be happy. Good work relationships are also linked to better customer engagement and increased profit.
In this article, you will learn why it is crucial to have good working relationships and how to build and maintain them.
Why Have Good Work Relationships?
Human beings are naturally social creatures. And when you consider that we spend one-third of our lives at work, it is clear that good relationships with colleagues will make our jobs more enjoyable.
The more comfortable co-workers are around one other, the more confident they will feel voicing opinions, brainstorming, and going along with new ideas, for example. This level of teamwork is essential to embrace change, create, and innovate. And when people see the successes of working together in this way, group morale and productivity soars.
Good work relationships also give you freedom. Instead of spending time and energy dealing with unpleasant relations, you can, instead, focus on opportunities – from winning new business to building your professional skills.
And having a positive professional circle will also help you to develop your career, opening up opportunities that otherwise might pass you.
Defining a Good Relationship
A good work relationship requires trust, respect, self-awareness, inclusion, and open communication. Let us explore each of these characteristics.
- Trust: When you trust your team members, you can be open and honest in your thoughts and actions. And you do not have to waste time or energy watching your back.
- Respect: Teams working together with mutual respect value each other’s input and find solutions based on collective insight, wisdom, and creativity.
- Self-awareness: This means taking responsibility for your words and actions, and not letting your own negative emotions impact the people around you.
- Inclusion: Do not just accept diverse people and opinions, but welcome them! For instance, when your colleagues offer a different view from yours, factor their insights and perspective into your decision-making.
- Open communication: all good relationships depend on open, honest communication. Whether you are sending emails or SMS or meeting face-to-face or on video calls, the more effectively you communicate with those around you, the better you will connect.
Which Work Relationships Are Important?
Although you should try to build and maintain good working relationships with everyone, some deserve extra attention, like the relationship between a boss and an employee. Gallup found that a manager alone can account for up to 70 percent of the engagement of a team.
Regular one-on-ones let managers build relationships with employees. At these catch-ups, you can show how the work of an individual fit with the bigger picture of an organization, understand their strengths and help them identify key areas to develop.
You can also explore managing upwards, to analyze how your manager prefers to work, anticipate their needs, and adapt your approach for a smoother relationship.
With key stakeholders, you will also benefit from developing good work relationships. These stakeholders, such as customers, suppliers, and your team have a stake in your success or failure. Forming a bond with them will help you to ensure that your projects – and career – stay on track.
How to Build Good Work Relationships
Building close connections with people can take time. But there are also steps you can take today to get on better with your colleagues.
- Identify Your Relationship Needs
Do you know what you need from others? And do you know what they need from you? Understanding these needs can be instrumental in building better relationships.
- Develop Your People Skills
Good relationships start with good people skills.
- Focus on Your EI
Emotional Intelligence (EI) is your ability to recognize and better understand your own emotions. By developing your EI, you will become more adept at identifying and handling the emotions and needs of others.
- Practice Mindful Listening
People respond better to those who truly listen to what they have to say. By practicing mindful listening, you will talk less and understand more as well as become known as trustworthy.
- Schedule Time to Build Relationships
If possible, you could ask a colleague out for a quick cup of coffee. Or give a one-minute kindness by commenting on a co-worker’s LinkedIn post you enjoyed reading. These little interactions take time but lay the groundwork for a positive relationship.
- Manage Your Boundaries
Make time, but not too much! Sometimes, a working relationship can impair productivity, especially when a friend or colleague begins to monopolize your time. It’s crucial to set your boundaries and manage how much time you devote to social interactions at work.
- Appreciate Others
Everyone, from your boss to the intern, wants to feel that their work is appreciated. So, genuinely compliment the people around you when they do something well. Praise and recognition will open the door to great work relationships.
- Be Positive
Focus on being positive. Positivity is contagious, and people gravitate to those that make them feel good.
- Avoid Gossiping
Office politics and gossip can ruin workplace relationships. If you’re experiencing conflict with someone in your group, talk to them directly about the problem. Gossiping with other colleagues will only exacerbate the situation, accelerating mistrust.
Some work relationships will be more difficult than others. But with thought, time, and some effort, these can become mutually beneficial, too.
Encourage your team to fly high
Your people may have all the expertise in the world, but if they're not motivated, it's unlikely that they'll achieve their true potential.
On the other hand, work seems easy when people are motivated.
Motivated people have a positive outlook, they're excited about what they're doing, and they know that they're investing their time in something that's truly worthwhile. In short, motivated people enjoy their jobs and perform well.
All effective leaders want their organizations to be filled with people in this state of mind. That's why it's vital that you, as a leader and manager, keep your team feeling motivated and inspired. But of course, this can be easier said than done!
In this article, we'll go over the types of motivation, strategies, and tools that you can use to help your people stay enthusiastic about their work.
Types of Motivation
There are two main types of motivation – extrinsic and intrinsic.
Extrinsic motivation is when you use external factors to encourage your team to do what you want. Pay raises, time off, bonus checks, and the threat of job loss are all extrinsic motivators – some positive, some less so.
Intrinsic motivation is internal. It's about having a personal desire to overcome a challenge, to produce high-quality work, or to interact with team members you like and trust. Intrinsically motivated people get a great deal of satisfaction and enjoyment from what they do.
Every team member is different, and will likely have different motivators. So, it's important to get to know your people, discover what motivates them, and find a good mixture of extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, so that you can motivate them successfully.
Motivation in the Workplace
You can't directly control a person's interest in his or her job. Of course, an individual does have some responsibility for motivating himself, but you can encourage that process by creating an environment that helps him to become more intrinsically motivated. Individuals, teams, and even whole organizations can reap the rewards.
Motivated people are highly adaptable, particularly when it comes to change, and they have a positive attitude at work. They help to spread an organization's good reputation, reduce rates of absenteeism, and improve performance and profit. They also work hard to achieve their goals, and with a greater sense of urgency than unmotivated people.
Motivation in Management
As a manager, you can use the following steps and strategies to create a motivating environment for your team.
Step 1: Check Your Assumptions
You may not realize it, but your management style is strongly influenced by what you believe about your people.
For example, do you think your team members dislike working, and need continuous supervision? Or, do you believe that they're happy to do their jobs, and are likely to enjoy greater responsibility and freedom?
These two fundamental beliefs form the backbone of the team motivation concept Theory X and Theory Y.
Theory X managers are authoritarian, and assume that they need to supervise people constantly. They believe that their team members don't want or need responsibility, and that they have to motivate people extrinsically to produce results.
Theory Y managers believe that their team members want more responsibility and should help make decisions. They assume that everyone has something valuable to offer.
In short, your beliefs about your team members' motivation affect the way you behave toward them. So, it's important to think carefully about how you view your people, and to explore what you believe truly motivates them. (It can help to think about it from your own perspective – would you prefer your own boss to manage you using Theory X or Theory Y? And how long would you stay working for a Theory X manager?)
Step 2: Eliminate Dissatisfaction and Create Satisfaction
Psychologist Fredrick Herzberg said that you can motivate your team by eliminating elements of job dissatisfaction, and then creating conditions for job satisfaction.
In his Motivation-Hygiene Theory, he noted how causes of dissatisfaction often arise from irritating company policies, intrusive supervision, or lack of job security, among others. If you don't address these issues, people won't be satisfied at work, and motivating them will prove difficult, if not impossible.
Once you've removed the elements of job dissatisfaction, you can look at providing satisfaction. Sources of job satisfaction include clear opportunities for advancement/promotion, an increased sense of responsibility, ongoing training and development programs, or simply a feeling of working with a purpose.
Step 3: Personalize Your Motivational Approach
Remember, your team is made up of individuals who have their own unique circumstances, backgrounds and experiences. Consequently, each person may be driven by different motivating factors, and be more or less adept at self-motivation. When you make an effort to understand each team member, you can help them stay motivated.
There are a number of tools and strategies that you can use to tailor your approach to motivation – and not all are completely consistent with one another. However, it's important to remember that every individual and situation is different, so make sure that you choose the theory or model that best fits your circumstances.
Let's explore these in more detail:
· Sirota’s Three-Factor Theory argues that there are three crucial factors that motivate your people. These are Equity/Fairness, Achievement and Camaraderie. You can help to ensure that your team members remain motivated and positive by incorporating each of these factors into their work.
· McClelland’s Human Motivation Theory is subtly different. McClelland believed that we all have three different drivers, the need for Achievement, Affiliation and Power, with one of them being dominant. If you structure your motivators and leadership style around a team member's dominant driver, your efforts should produce good results.
· Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs identifies five needs that we all have, from the most basic to the most complex. These are physiological/bodily, safety, love/belonging, self-esteem, and self-actualization (the sense of doing what you were born to do). Maslow's Hierarchy is usually presented in a pyramid – you place the basic needs at the bottom, because you need to meet these before you can address any of the more complex ones. According to this approach, you can motivate your team by addressing all of the levels.
· Amabile and Kramer’s Progress Theory highlights how progressing and achieving small “wins" can be motivating. It suggests six things you can provide – clear goals and objectives, autonomy, resources, time, support, and the ability to learn from failure – that give people the best chance of making recognizable and meaningful progress at work.
· You can also use Expectancy Theory to create a strong, motivating work environment where high performance is standard. It clarifies the relationship between effort and outcome, and you can use it to tailor motivational rewards to individuals' preferences.
· According to the Pygmalion Effect, your expectations can affect your team members' performance. For example, when you doubt that someone will succeed, you can make her feel undervalued and you undermine her confidence. The Pygmalion Effect is useful because it reinforces the idea that you can encourage people to perform better at work by having and communicating high expectations of them.
· Of course, money does matter, and Understanding Strategic Compensation can help you structure your team's extrinsic rewards. Whether you reward people with increases in base, performance or group-performance pay, understanding the differences between them, and their inherent benefits can help you structure financial compensation in a more motivating way.
Step 4: Use Transformational Leadership
Motivation is vital in the workplace, but this will only take you so far, and then leadership takes over. Once you've used the motivational approaches we've discussed above, you need to take the next step towards becoming an inspirational, transformational leader.
When you adopt this leadership style, you can motivate and lift your team to new heights, and help it to achieve extraordinary things. Transformational leaders expect great things from their team members, and they spark feelings of trust and loyalty in return.
To become a transformational leader, you need to create an attractive, inspiring vision of a meaningful future, encourage people to buy into this vision, manage its delivery, and continue to build trusting relationships with your team members. Set aside time to develop your own leadership skills, and focus on your own personal development, so that you can become an inspiring role model for your people.
What is Leadership?
The word “leadership" can bring to mind a variety of images. For example:
- A political leader, pursuing a passionate, personal cause.
- An explorer, cutting a path through the jungle for the rest of his group to follow.
- An executive, developing her company's strategy to beat the competition.
Leaders help themselves and others to do the right things. They set direction, build an inspiring vision, and create something new. Leadership is about mapping out where you need to go to “win" as a team or an organization; and it is dynamic, exciting, and inspiring.
Yet, while leaders set the direction, they must also use management skills to guide their people to the right destination, in a smooth and efficient way.
Leadership means different things to different people around the world, and different things in different situations.
Leadership: a Definition
An effective leader is a person who does the following:
- Creates an inspiring vision of the future.
- Motivates and inspires people to engage with that vision.
- Manages the delivery of the vision.
- Coaches and builds a team, so that they are more effective at achieving the vision.
Leadership brings together the skills needed to do these things. We'll look at each element in more detail.
Creating an Inspiring Vision of the Future
In business, a vision is a realistic, convincing, and attractive depiction of where you want to be in the future. Vision provides direction, sets priorities, and provides a marker so that you can tell that you've achieved what you wanted to achieve.
To create a vision, leaders focus on an organization's strengths. They think about how their industry is likely to change, and how their competitors are likely to behave. They look at how they can innovate successfully, and shape their businesses and their strategies to succeed in future marketplaces. And they test their visions with appropriate market research, and by assessing key risks. Therefore, leadership is proactive – problem-solving, looking ahead, and not being satisfied with things as they are.
Once they have developed their visions, leaders must make them compelling and convincing. A compelling vision is one that people can see, feel, understand, and embrace. Effective leaders provide a rich picture of what the future will look like when their visions have been realized. They tell inspiring stories and explain their visions in ways that everyone can relate to.
Here, leadership combines the analytical side of vision creation with the passion of shared values, creating something that's really meaningful to the people being led.
Motivating and Inspiring People
A compelling vision provides the foundation for leadership. But it's the leaders' ability to motivate and inspire people that helps them deliver that vision.
For example, when you start a new project, you will probably have lots of enthusiasm for it, so it's often easy to win support for it at the beginning. However, it can be difficult to find ways to keep your vision inspiring after the initial enthusiasm fades, especially if the team or organization needs to make significant changes in the way that it does things. Leaders recognize this, and they work hard throughout the project to connect their vision with people's individual needs, goals, and aspirations.
One of the key ways effective leaders do this is by linking together two different expectations:
- The expectation that hard work leads to good results.
- The expectation that good results lead to attractive rewards or incentives.
This motivates people to work hard to achieve success because they expect to enjoy rewards – both intrinsic and extrinsic – as a result.
Other approaches include restating the vision in terms of the benefits it will bring to the team's customers, and taking frequent opportunities to communicate the vision in an attractive and engaging way.
What's particularly helpful here is when leaders have expert power. People admire and believe in these leaders because they are experts in what they do. They have credibility, and they've earned the right to ask people to listen to them and follow them. This makes it much easier for these leaders to motivate and inspire the people they lead.
Leaders can also motivate and influence people through their natural charisma and appeal, and through other sources of power, such as the power to pay bonuses or assign tasks to people. However, good leaders don't rely too much on these types of power to motivate and inspire others.
Managing Delivery of the Vision
This is the area of leadership that relates to management.
Leaders must ensure that the work needed to deliver the vision is properly managed – either by themselves or by a dedicated manager or team of managers to whom the leader delegates this responsibility – and they need to ensure that their vision is delivered successfully.
To do this, team members need performance goals that are linked to the team's overall vision. Leaders also need to make sure they manage change effectively. This helps to ensure that the changes needed to deliver the vision are implemented smoothly and thoroughly, with the support and backing of the people affected.
Coaching and Building a Team to Achieve the Vision
Individual and team development are important activities carried out by transformational leaders. To develop a team, leaders must first understand team dynamics. A leader will then ensure that team members have the necessary skills and abilities to do their job and achieve the vision. They do this by giving and receiving feedback regularly, and by training and coaching people to improve individual and team performance.
Leadership also includes looking for leadership potential in others. By developing leadership skills within your team, you create an environment where you can continue success in the long term. And that's a true measure of great leadership.
What Makes You Late?
“It was traffic.” “I missed the train.” “It was my partner’s fault.” We all run late occasionally, but when it happens often, it becomes a problem – not just for you, but for those who rely on you, too. It’s likely time to reassess how much control you had over those situations. Punctually challenged people are often painfully aware of how their actions harm their relationships, careers, and reputations.
Consider the Consequences
Some people are always early or “on the dot,” while others are late for everything: starting and leaving work, appointments, meetings, parties, flights, lunches. Usually, it’s by an infuriating five, 10, or 15 minutes – not so late that they miss the appointment entirely, but late enough to irritate anyone who’s been left waiting.
The fact is people who consistently arrive late appear not only disorganized and unreliable but also rude, unintelligent, and inconsiderate. We all know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of such behavior – whether it’s coming from a friend, partner, or colleague. It tells you that the person thinks their time is more valuable than yours.
Someone like this can be a frustrating presence at work, always causing unnecessary stress and pressure. We’ve likely all worked with someone who was late to everything – rushing, or worse, breezing in with a coffee cup that they clearly stopped for while you were drumming your fingers. Perhaps not showing up at all, or forever missing things and never giving the impression that they actually care.
Ask Yourself: “Why Am I Late?”
According to a CareerBuilder survey, most lateness is down to traffic (49 percent), oversleeping (32 percent), bad weather (26 percent), being too tired to get out of bed (25 percent), and procrastination (17 percent). But there could be more to it. Are you a dreamer who thinks having a shower, making breakfast, riding the elevator, and checking out of a hotel takes five minutes? Or did you just forget, and it’s a case of self-discipline?
Or perhaps you’re a perfectionist. Does a lack of self-esteem and perspective prevent you from finishing a task? Or are you a crisis-maker who loves the thrill of being rushed and needs to learn to act, not react? Could it be a passive-aggressive form of protest?
Break Your Bad Habits
It’s important to identify and tackle the cause of any negative behavior. Ensure you approach the issue in a positive way. Criticizing yourself won’t fix the problem, and just wishing to change isn’t enough.
Some people are just plain thoughtless. But, a lot of the time, it’s nothing to do with personality, motivation or intent; it’s simply a bad habit that can be fixed with a little effort and attention to your routine.
7 Top Tips to Avoid Lateness
- Invest in a watch. Time your daily and weekly routines – you will be surprised at how long it all takes.
- For every task, think carefully and visualize who you’ll help or what you’ll gain by being on time. This can counter any drive to rebel against constraints or expectations, or the fear of losing out in some other way.
- Set alarms and reminders, and limit distractions. Try to schedule appointments to avoid peak times. Booking important meetings for 9 a.m. might seem like a good idea, but it could be a recipe for disaster if you get stuck in traffic. Plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early, and bring a book or newspaper to make the most of that bonus time.
- Don’t squeeze in “one more thing” before that appointment. And don’t leave little tasks like getting gas or cash until the last minute.
- Don’t arrive too early, either. If others show up on time to find you at the end of a cup of coffee, you risk making them feel anxious.
- Plan for tomorrow the night before. Prepare breakfast and lunch, lay out your clothes, and pack your bags. Work out how long each task will take by breaking it down into steps, so you don’t underestimate it. Add contingencies and buffers.
- Prioritize sleep. Oversleeping is one of the most common causes of being late. But getting enough sleep is essential to working productively and efficiently.
Saying sorry is no good if everybody – including you – knows you’re just going to do it again next week. You don’t need to be the person who arrives five hours early for a flight.
Overcompensating like this can actually cause you to waste your time. But do aim to be reliable and punctual.
Identify the cause of constant lateness, address it, and take positive steps – or show positive encouragement – to adjust that behavior. Arriving slightly early, or on time, demonstrates that you value your own time and other people’s. It also reduces unnecessary stress.
Taking all the communication that we do into account, we would think we’re good at listening. Research shows that we only remember between 25 percent and 50 percent of what we hear. This shows that we are not good listeners.
Importance of active listening
Effective listening is a skill that we can all benefit from. Communication is important in carrying out our tasks as well as in developing quality and meaningful relationships. And, listening is a major aspect of communication. Listening is essential in all aspects of life although the purpose of this article is career-wise.
We can avoid conflict and misunderstanding; better influence, persuade, and negotiate; improve the way we do our jobs; and develop quality and meaningful relationships by improving our listening skills. Therefore, listening is essential for a successful career.
Tips to listen actively:
1. Pay Attention
Active listening is paying attention to the complete message of the communicator by paying attention to him/her. Give the speaker your undivided attention by looking at him directly; pausing to listen to him or her by refraining from distracting thoughts such as preparing a rebuttal; and paying attention to the speaker's body language.
2. Show that You are Listening
Ensure that the speaker knows you are listening. Responding to the speaker in a way that will encourage him to continue speaking can deepen the conversation. Show that you are listening by nodding occasionally and encouraging the speaker to go on with verbal comments. Using facial expressions and open posture also encourages the speaker to continue speaking.
3. Provide Feedback
As a listener, your role is to understand what is being said. An occasional question or comment to recap what has been said can help in this regard. This may prompt you to reflect on what is being said by asking questions. Reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. For example, the phrase “Sounds like you are saying… ," is a great way to reflect back by correcting misconceptions if any, and affirming what has actually been said. Ask questions to clarify certain points. “What do you mean when you say…" is a good question that takes into account what has been said and delves further into what the speaker wants to communicate.
4. Postpone Judgment
Interrupting frustrates the speaker and limits full understanding of the message. So, it is a waste of what could have been an excellent communication. Allow the speaker to finish each point before asking questions. Withhold yourself from interrupting with counter arguments.
5. Respond Appropriately
Active listening is designed to encourage understanding. You are gaining information and perspective. So, responding is important. Respond candidly, openly, and honestly. Assert your thoughts respectfully even if you disagree. Treat the other person as you would want to treated.
Cool, Calm, Collected
We've all been in frustrating situations in our professional lives. Our favorite projects were canceled after weeks of hard work. We held on the phone for longer than usual. Someone put on hold the progress of our work. These events can be frustrating. The point is how we handle our frustrations.
Do you handle your frustrations well? Doing so advantages your career. So, how can you become better at handling frustrations? In this article, we will look at some tips:
Stop and Evaluate
Pause and look at the situation! Objectively looking at the situation is the first step in handling frustrations.
Start with yourself: look at yourself and identify why you are frustrated? Be as specific as you can. Write down the reason why you are frustrated.
Most important of all, don't interact out of your frustration at your work place. If you are in the presence of someone, withdraw to pause and reason. Don’t say anything arising out of your frustration. Rather, have a seasoned conversation at work by thoroughly thinking out your communication.
Search and Find an Upside
Seemingly negative events at work can be used for good. You can turn a negative situation into a positive one. But, you must search, search, search and find the positive aspect. And, hold on to it!
This helps you to get a different perception of the situation; you will be calmer. Above all, you get a unique advantage out of an apparent disadvantage. For example, if the reason for your frustration is a canceled project, you can use bits and pieces of your efforts for a well-supported project. Also, you will be protected from professional damage.
Think of the last time
It is great to think of the last frustration you went through as lessons are learned from experience. Did you regret acting out of your frustration? Let your experience keep you from repeating the same mistake. Did your frustration by itself resolve the problem? Then, it won't be of much help right now. Did you calm down after a while? You will do so this time as well!
Finally, instead of acting out in your frustration, use it smartly. Pause and reflect. Search and find the upside. Contribute to the smooth functioning of your work environment. Instead of harming your career and your professional reputation, contribute to your success.
Network like a pro
Networking often seems unnatural and about getting something from people. This makes it uncomfortable for people who want to make professional connections. New graduates, especially those who are fretful to find a job, very much need and want help, but they don't want others to think that they only want something from them and that they’re faking the relationship. But networking doesn't have to be as uncomfortable; here are five tips to introduce you to networking:
Leverage Your Position as a Recent Graduate
Immediately after college graduation, professionals are eager to help graduates find their way and land a job. Established professionals acknowledge young people need guidance. This may not be so later on in your career. So leverage your position and reach out to people approaching them at events, cold email them and ask if you may buy them a cup of coffee for 15 minutes of their time. Before meeting them, do your research. With them, ask plenty of questions, take note of what they tell you, and take in as much as you can. It is a compliment to inquire someone for advice, and people know graduates need it.
Sometimes, networking is just about making friends
A natural way to network is simply to make friends with your co-workers, and employees at other companies in your field. Feel free to focus on forming a relationship, and establishing a sense of camaraderie with them. These friendships can ultimately be more necessary than the ones you build up the ladder. These peers can be the first to think of you when there's a job; the ones to give you ideas if you come across professional dilemma and your sounding board when work is difficult. Your bond with them is just as important as your relationship with your superior.
Choose the networking events you attend wisely
Don’t just sign up for networking events. Be intentional as you navigate the networking wilderness. This means only attending events that are attended by companies you want to be hired by and professionals you admire. Focus more of your time on what connections you can build through your existing relationships (friends, family, classmates, previous professors, social group etc), and cold emailing professionals you admire and want to chat with.
Seize End of Events
There are some studies that indicate that it is smart to wait until the end of an event to meet someone important. If you make a good impression at the end of an event, you are more likely to be remembered. So don't leave an event before it ends if there is someone in particular you want to speak to; stay until the end and seize the moment.
Follow-Up, Follow-Up, Follow-Up
Making an initial connection through any of the above ways is only the beginning. You only keep to make the initial good connection you’ve made if you follow-up and stay in touch. This is the most difficult part for many people. It's difficult to make connections and easy to lose them. It would be very bad if you only contact someone when you need them. People will know, and won't help. So make it part of your routine to keep up with people. Remember events like birthdays, new job, a wedding or the birth of a child or grandchild. Send them a note or if you are close by, give a gift. Send over an article you think might interest them. Use 15-minute in your day to connect with people you worked hard to meet; you will benefit from it throughout your life and career.