Sunday, 21 September 2014

Why are Professional Relationships at Work so Difficult?

I’ve been working with clients this month who are all about engagement. Engaged employees mean engaged customers and that means more growth and more profit for the business. You can’t turn a business journal page over these days without the phrase ‘collaboration' screaming out at you. And all of my global clients are singing off this particular hymn sheet at the moment – and they are right to do so, by the way.

So if that all makes sense, then why is it so hard to do sometimes?

Working with a leader in the automotive industry this week, it struck me that he summed up the challenge beautifully. The industry in which he operates is fast-paced, results-driven, relentless, and his comment was simple: “we need to make time for people to form relationships at work”.

To be clear – he wasn’t talking about the romantic kind. He was talking about enabling moments for his team to build trust, connection, shared responsibility, honesty, understanding….and hence – teamwork in his organisation.

And he’s right.

The most consistent challenge I hear from leaders is that ‘we don’t have time’. Well guess what? If we don’t make time to do what’s important (even if we don’t think it’s urgent), then all we’re doing is piling up the pressure and requirements on ourselves. And this happens because we’ve not made the time to save time through encouraging our employees to engage with each other much more effectively.

Organisation charts and formal structures don’t tell you how things get done in a business. That’s dictated by the connections, relationships, trust and engagement that exists between colleagues to work for, and with, each other; to go the extra mile; to help out; to genuinely work together.

That means emotional engagement and connection.

Our role as leaders is to engage our talent through enabling these relationships to form.

If we do so; we achieve more together; share greater success along the way and enjoy the journey. That’s real engagement.

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