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    Tips on How to Strengthen Working Relationships

    “Treat your business relationships like friendships (or potential friendships). Formality puts up walls, and walls don’t foster good business relationships.” – Steve Pavlina.

    One of the essential factors in success is knowing how to maintain positive working relationships with your colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders. The foundation of any professional relationship is a sense of mutual benefit, respect, and trust.

    “The glue that holds business relationships together is trust, and this trust is purely based on integrity.” – Brian Tracy.

    Communication, misunderstandings, and conflicting goals can lead to strained working relationships that damage reputations as well as hurt your business. This blog discusses tips on how to develop strong professional relationships, manage disagreements, and build a business culture based on mutual benefit, trust, and respect.

    I) Act With Transparency

    “The single most important ingredient in the recipe for success is transparency because transparency builds trust.” – Denise Morrison.

    Business relationships built on transparency establishes a strong level of communication between stakeholders or partners. All parties involved in the business must communicate what benefits they want from the partnership, as well as what their contribution will be toward achieving business objectives. The key to embracing transparency is through open communication; providing feedback, and sharing ideas or opinions; no matter how difficult it may be.

    • 80% of workers want to know more about how decisions are made by their employers (Slack.com).

    Transparency is critical to business relationships because it strengthens accountability and establishes the foundation for trust. For example, openly sharing information helps to keep managers, employees, and other stakeholders accountable for their decisions and actions. In addition, it promotes open communication and a diversity of opinions on a given topic. In this environment, problems are solved quickly and with widespread buy-in.

    II) Embrace Accountability 

    “Leaders inspire accountability through their ability to accept responsibility before they place blame.” – Courtney Lynch.

    Accountability in relationships is the practice of claiming responsibility for your actions and how they impact others. Relationships are a two-way street; it is never one person’s fault when a working relationship experiences challenges, and it takes both parties to overcome them. Accountability in a relationship means acknowledging the effect one’s actions have on the relationship and taking responsibility for them.

    “That feeling of a sense of ownership for the task they are responsible for makes them keen to deliver the best results as they know that only they are accountable to its success.” – Checkify.

    When we are accountable, we allow ourselves to take responsibility for our behavior and learn from our mistakes and the structural changes that lead to success. Moreover, in professional settings, when people are accountable for their effort, they demonstrate conscientiousness and understand the value of their contribution. In the long term, accountability increases individual confidence, work quality, and performance.

    lll) Remember, “Actions Speak Louder than Words”

    The cliche phrase “actions speak louder (or more truthfully)than words” means that people are more likely to believe what you do rather than what you say. In business relationships, actions speak volumes about a person’s character. For instance, punctuality, work ethic, and keeping to commitments are important demonstrations of an individual’s integrity and true intent.

    The Importance of Keeping Promises

    Keeping a promise is about doing what you said you would do. Promises provide a character-based guarantee that colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders can use to set expectations and gauge an individual’s reliability and trustworthiness. Failure to live up to promises leads to damaged working relationships, reduced trust, and weak credibility. Conversely, coming through on promises consistently will enhance your reputation, respect, and esteem among your colleagues.

    IV) Work Through Disagreements 

    “In business, when two people always agree, one of them is irrelevant.” – William Wrigley.

    Workplace disagreements occur when two or more people do not share the same opinion in a work-related context. Debates, exchanging ideas, and respectful disagreements lead to new solutions, business innovation, and growth. However, conflict is often viewed as negative. Also, when disputes become personal, they can hurt the work environment and business relationships.

    Common causes of workplace disagreements(Indeed):

    • Informational disagreements: Key facts were missing, incomplete details, or situational ambiguity.
    • Work Environment: Something in the work environment leads to conflict.
    • Competence: Individuals lack the appropriate skills for completing their duties.
    • Values-based disagreements: A clash of personal values leads to conflict.
    • Identity Conflict– the person’s sense of identity leads to disputes with others.

    Effectively resolving workplace disagreements proactively and soon after they occur; means that employees can continue doing their work. This saves the company time and money, as well as sustains coworker relationships. Conversely, failure to resolve workplace conflict between coworkers burdens staff and the work environment.

    “10% of conflicts are due to differences in opinion. 90% are due to the wrong tone of voice.” – Unknown 

    How to Manage Workplace Disagreements (UC SanDiego): 

      1. Actively Listen to the other person
      2. Calmly ask questions for clarification.
      3. Focus on behavior and events, DO NOT make it personal
      4. Identify points of agreement and disagreement.
      5. Collaborate on a plan of action
      6. Follow through with the plan
      7. Ask for feedback

    The main benefit of collaborating through disagreements is that it allows all parties to participate and provide input into the solution. This makes people feel heard and valued. Collaboration brings people together and creates an environment that facilitates constructive discourse. Moreover, the process of resolving a disagreement through discussion, compromise, and mutual agreement, preserves relationships and improves team cohesion and workplace harmony.

    V) Practice Open Communication

    Open communication in organizations occurs when people can openly express their thoughts and work-related opinions to each other. Businesses can implement open communication policies by encouraging staff to provide feedback, express opinions, and share in solving organizational issues. These policies will have the effect of making employees feel heard and valued. A culture that embraces open communication inevitably develops strong manager-employee relationships.

    • 97% of employees believe communication impacts their task efficacy on a daily basis (Salesforce)
    • 86% of employees and executives cite the lack of effective collaboration and communication as the cause of workplace failures (CMSWire)
    • 28% of employees cite poor communication as the reason for not being able to deliver work on time (ExpertMarket).

    Open communication is essential for maintaining strong relationships with employees, customers, and other business stakeholders. Additionally, communication is a vital mechanism that allows people to explain ideas, actions, behaviors, problems, and solutions necessary for a business’s smooth functioning. 

    The following are six tips to improve workplace communication:

      1. Develop a company culture based on open communication
      2. Train manager to communicate openly
      3. Consistently ask employees for feedback
      4. Conduct anonymous surveys on key business problems
      5. Implement idea-sharing mechanisms
      6. Encourage employees to participate in company decisions

    In sum, open communication helps facilitate mutual understanding within working relationships so that words and actions are not misunderstood. On the other hand, poor communication hinders business operations, hurts relationships, and can potentially damage one’s reputation.

    “Power in organizations is the capacity generated by relationships. It is an energy that comes into existence through relationships.” – Margaret Wheatley.

    If you want your business to succeed, you must maintain positive working relationships with colleagues, customers, and other stakeholders. The foundation of any professional relationship is a sense of mutual benefit, respect, and trust. Following the tips in this blog post, you can avoid damaging business relationships and develop genuine, long-lasting ones that will help your business thrive.

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