Business skills: How to build better interoffice relationships

Focusing on the importance of positive interoffice relationships can improve your work environment, team goals and production.

Working in an office can be akin to playing on a small playground. Everyone knows everyone else, everyone should share their toys, and someone is always willing to share negative comments made by one individual with everyone else. Keeping that in mind, preventing bad relationships is the easiest way to build positive relationships. You remember your mother telling you but you hate to admit she had a valid point- if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Even if no other steps are taken, this will ensure a pleasant working environment.

The reality in today’s business world is that team members are expected to constantly evaluate business processes and outcomes.

Business skills: How to build better interoffice relationships

This can mean violating your mother’s rule. However, it is possible to accomplish evaluations and reporting by bending the rule instead of breaking it. For instance, let’s imagine that a coworker, Hugh, held up a project deadline by procrastinating during his phase of the process lifecycle. During the post project evaluation, you have two options. The first is to let the entire team take the blame collectively. The second is to finger Hugh as the culprit. However, by using his name and indicating he was uncooperative, you are building a negative relationship with Hugh, and putting yourself in a position to be viewed as a corporate tattletale. Instead, use constructive comments that are specific to a function. “We need to evaluate the post implementation alpha testing to find a more efficient way to manage areas that require troubleshooting” is much more effective than “Unfortunately, Hugh did not see value in completing his portion of the project, which had a domino effect on the other team members’ ability to meet their deadlines.” Going a step further by adding possible solutions to the issue will cement your image as a team member and a team leader: “I’d like to suggest that, as a team, we work on improving that phase of the process. I think by including input from all areas involved in the project, we’ll be able to identify priorities, which will lead us to a more efficient process.” Management is usually well aware of where breakdowns occur, and which employees need the most supervision. If they are doing their jobs, they’ll have a full understanding of your comments.

A proactive approach to interoffice relationships can also be gratifying. It’s important to note the outcome of networking on a daily business, and often employees overlook the need to work on relationships within their office on a daily basis. Although we train our employees to provide top echelon customer service to our clients, you can benefit greatly by viewing your coworkers as clients. Strive to give the same amount of effort to cultivating positive interoffice relationships as you would to your best client. The most vital step in this process goes back to your mother’s rule, with a twist. It’s easy to fall into the trap of commiserating with coworkers about management, clients, etc. Make a conscious effort to avoid the trap. Although some might see it as building relationships, the adage “Misery loves Company” has no place in a professional work environment. Avoid conversations that focus complain about issues over which you have no control.

There are ten actions that you can control that will ingratiate you with management and coworkers:

  1. Promote yourself by promoting others.
  2. Take the time to stop by a coworker’s desk and congratulate them on a job well done.
  3. Offer to assist them if they’re late in meeting a deadline and you have some free time.
  4. When you perform services for others, do them completely and to the best of your ability. If you pick up a coworkers’ phone for them, speak to the caller politely, take a complete message, and deliver the message in a timely fashion.
  5. Little things count. Take the time to learn the names of coworkers’ family members. Ask about the outcome of their son’s Little League game. Inquire about the health of their elderly mother.
  6. Stay calm. The person who remains collected during a crisis will be seen as a leader and as a motivator.
  7. Remember birthdays. With today’s scheduling systems, it’s easy to set reminders to purchase a card and place it on a coworker or manager’s desk the morning of their birthday. Even if your department signs a group card, take this extra step to stand out.
  8. Smile. A warm, genuine smile sets the tone for a good relationship.
  9. Always make eye contact when speaking with others. This makes others feel you are open to conversation, and makes you appear outgoing. Speaking to an introverted person takes effort that some people are not willing to make.
  10. Treat each person in the office with respect. Keep in mind that everyone there has a job to do that will lead to the success of the office as a team.

Each office has its own personality and environment, as does each person in the office. By building better interoffice relationships, you’ll find that you enjoy going to work a little more, and your workday will become more productive.

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