In this article you’ll learn:
- Why building positive professional relationships is important to your career
- Three different approaches to building relationships: The Ally Mindset, Trust and Reputation, and Radical Candor
Human interactions are a core part of our personal and professional life. Therefore, the importance of nurturing positive relationships cannot be overstated. Positive relationships have tangible effects on your health, which include improving lifespans and mitigating stress*. They also have a significant influence on your career. In fact, professional relationships affect your ability to work in a team, your reputation and career progression. The following sections will outline different approaches that will help you further develop positive professional relationships.
Approaches to Building Relationships
The Ally Mindset
According to Morag Barret, (founder of SkyeTeam and author of the new book “Cultivate”), there are three types of people in the workplace: allies, supporters, and rivals. Barret explains, “An ally has your back no matter what. A supporter is on your side until the going gets tough. A rival competes with you for promotions, resources, or even the boss’s attention. [Rivals] either covertly or publicly seek to undermine you.” Although these different personalities exist within the workplace, Barret believes that it’s important to approach professional relationships with an “ally mindset,” meaning one gives everyone a chance. It’s worth focusing on building one relationship at a time to ensure it’s meaningful and worthwhile.
A few examples on how to adopt an ally mindset:
- Initiate conversations with colleagues,
- Sit next to someone new,
- Collaborate with co-workers on projects,
- Be curious and ask colleagues questions about themselves (keep it professional)
Showing genuine interest in others will help you develop a deeper and more meaningful connection with them. As you learn more about them, you will be in a better position to give back emotionally and build trust. Bear in mind that this process takes time, so be patient.
Trust Informs Reputation
Although the two words are often used interchangeably, reputation is not trust. For example, you may trust your best friend with your life, but not with your finances if they have a reputation for being careless with money. Once this nuanced difference is established, it’s important to work on demonstrating trustworthiness whilst at work to help promote the reputation you desire. As this can impact your future employability depending on the reputation you’ve developed.
Actionable ways to build trust in the workplace include:
- Leading by example,
- Taking responsibility for mistakes,
- Holding yourself accountable
Making a conscious effort to establish a positive reputation can be extremely valuable in propelling your career. If you are known for being trustworthy and hard-working, it may be easier for you to get promoted, switch jobs within an industry, or even headhunted by another firm.
Personal relationships and how one builds their professional reputation can appear different when looking at it from differing levels. Kim Scott founded the notion of Radical Candor, an idea that challenges how management builds and challenges their teams. Essentially, Radical Candor is the balance of caring personally about the individual but having the ability to challenge them directly rather than side-stepping issues when giving feedback, offering praise or delivering criticism ‘that’s kind and clear’.
This management style works in both directions, ensuring that your team will feel comfortable in offering management feedback and criticism. Ultimately, the tactic will instil trust within teams, as they feel they can voice their opinions and challenge the status quo which in theory should improve the company as a whole. As either a manager or a lower-level employee, Radical Candor is a technique that is likely to increase your overall credibility as you are essentially being exceptionally honest without being unkind.
Some tips on how to employ Radical Candor:
- Introduce impromptu feedback sessions, outside of bi-annual reviews
- Enable teams to offer criticism to their superiors
- ‘Practice what you preach,’ this not only demonstrates your honesty professionally but will influence those around you to follow suit
How Professional Relationships Inform your Career
In 2012, roughly 80% of the available jobs weren’t advertised but rather filled either internally or through employee networks. According to LinkedIn’s Hiring Statistics, 50% of people search for new jobs through word of mouth and the #1 way people discover a new job is through referral.
In today’s job market there is significant value placed on networking and developing positive professional relationships. Investing in people and your relationships should be viewed as another way you invest in your future. Someone is more likely to refer a friend or an individual that they know professionally who has invested in getting to know them, rather than a stranger or one-off introduction at an event. If you have a reputation for being trustworthy, a team player and honest within your industry, it will likely make a career move or progression easier. Invest in people, and you will notice the return.