Interpersonal Relationships Necessary for Professional and Personal Success
How we get along with others is becoming increasingly important in the workplace and how well we build and maintain trusting relationships with others that are happy, healthy and fulfilling is perhaps the most important thing that we will ever do in life.
By A. S. (Migs) Damiani, CPE, FAFE , January/February 1999
This article previously appeared in Facilities Engineering Journal, flagship publication of The Association for Facilities Engineering, www.afe.org.
Consider someone who is highly skilled technically but is not very good communicating or getting along with other people. No matter how much they improve technically, their lack of interpersonal communication skills will hold them back. When you can identify and understand your shortcomings, you will have uncovered a potent avenue for personal growth and increased effectiveness. In your weaknesses are the greatest possibilities for improvement. Even a marginal improvement in interpersonal communication skills will have a significant effect on overall performance. How we get along with others is becoming increasingly important in the workplace and how well we build and maintain trusting relationships with others that are happy, healthy and fulfilling is perhaps the most important thing that we will ever do in life.
Building relationships is not easy but is well worth the effort. Today's complex world requires interdependence on others and how we cooperate and collaborate with our peers, customers and employees will be a significant factor in our future success.
It is a fact that people do more work and perform better work if their workplace is positive and caring. Also, in a positive, caring environment people cannot wait to get to work. As leaders, our job is to individually and collectively create and maintain a positive, caring workplace. Successful people understand the value of surrounding themselves with other successful/positive people in an environment conducive to maximum productivity and quality. When will you know that you have reached that goal? When employees ask for an opportunity to fail. They will not unless their workplace is positive.
A positive, caring environment:
- allows people to rise to the level of others around them
- inspires people to achieve more
- empowers people naturally
- gives people more confidence in that it builds people up rather than tears them down/apart
- helps people overcome their fears or at the very least, to deal with failure and learn from it
- reinforces our strengths
- helps people understand the importance of helping/mentoring others
- builds trust, communication, loyalty, self-esteem and relationships with others
It is truly amazing what employees can do if they are treated with respect, encouraged to do their best, are appreciated and work in a positive, caring workplace. If the return on investment in people pays off so much, why aren't we doing it more? The average person works at between 30% and 50% of their potential, so there is a lot of room for growth. People are at the heart of productivity.
Learn to lead by example and practice the 3R's of management - reinforcement (encouragement), recognition, and reward - daily. The key to developing people and keeping relationships going is to constantly catch people doing things right and praising them immediately for their performance. You can not do this enough. Do not wait for perfection to happen because you will be waiting a long, long time. Praise progress and encourage employees to do better constantly. It helps people move toward desired performance. Look for the gold in others because when you do, you will always find some in you. When you accentuate the positive, you make deposits in your human relationship bank account with that person.
People want to be healthy; to be recognized; to feel important; to be involved; to be appreciated and to be respected. Their fears include rejection, failure, public speaking, change, and confrontation with others. Leaders help people get what they want and overcome their fears. If it's that simple, why aren't we doing this? It's free, so cost surely is not the reason we do not follow through. The simple truth is that we have never been educated or trained how to do it. Once we are, it's a matter of practicing what we have been taught.
Recognition is not the same as compensation, although money will likely be a part of recognition or reward. The purpose of recognition is to link recognition to stated values and goals. It has to be valid, genuine, meaningful and timely for both the recipient and giver. Receiving well deserved recognition from the boss and upper management is a personal touch that brings a satisfaction to an employee that money cannot buy. Hearing a thank you and encouragement from someone you care for and who truly cares for you is a gift that makes a difference in building relationships and unleashing a person's potential.
When you focus on building and maintaining healthy relationships with others, you will find yourself enjoying happiness and rewards greatly in excess of the efforts you make toward that end. As Zig Ziglar says, "You can have everything in life you want if you will help enough other people get what they want."
A. S. (Migs) Damiani, CPE, FAFE, is president of Complete Building Services in Washington, D.C., and author of a book available through AFE's 1998 "Technical Resources Guide."
Questions? Email Candace Peters or call 335-2260.