How Can I Build Relationships at Work?

To Build Relationships you must first CONTROL YOUR EGO!

Date Posted: 20th April 2021

In the last few videos I’ve have talked about the importance of building relationships and listening to other people.

But what can stop us from building relationships and listening?

Well, it’s our ego. We need to be able to control our ego, to stay humble if we want to build relationships at work. 

Very few things are as dislikable as an ego that’s out of control. Arrogance and the deceit that comes of arrogance is very dislikable and it’s not just a barrier to relationships, it’s a barrier to listening and it’s a barrier to learning to cooperation.

When we have an ego that’s out of control we don’t listen to other people because we think we’re always right, we think that our ideas are the best, people might have solutions, suggestions, proposals or valid criticism, and if we’re too arrogant, we just won’t listen to it.

I make the point repeatedly on our IOSH Managing Safely e-Learning course, and our Managing People Effectively course that you have to listen and you have to build relationships.

I especially have to do this when I’m delivering classroom training, because one of the problems with classroom training is that people can get so motivated, so revved up to go out and fix all of the issues with their workplace, that sometimes they can be a bit like a bull in a china shop.

So one of the last things which I tell them before they leave the room is, they say just need to calm down and take it easy. I know there’s a lot to fix, but they must not go around fixing every safety issue in their workplace at the cost of the relationships. Because you don’t make the workplace safer by burning the relationships, you need those relationships to make the workplace safer, to get the changes introduced. And going around pointing out everything that’s wrong, every hazard, every risk, every little legal breach and so on, however minor, isn’t conducive to building relationships at work.

So sometimes, you have to take it a little bit slower and bring people with you rather than alienating them, and sometimes that means not pointing out things that are wrong but maybe asking them why they’re doing things in that particular way. There might be a very good reason for it.

So how do we control our ego? 

Well here’s a suggestion: get your hands dirty, do some of the frontline work. 

One way to build relationships at work is to do some of the work that the frontline people do.

So if you’re in a factory, spend some time on the line. If you’re in a warehouse, take your turn to sweep the yard. If you’re in a callcentre, spend some time on telephones. Whatever frontline means to you, you should do it.

You’d don’t have to do lots of it, but do it regularly, maybe do one shift every quarter or maybe a couple of extra hours a month. Most of your time should be spent managing, obviously, but do enough just to kind of get your hands in.

And this will remind you of just how difficult the job is. It reminds you of the challenges that your people have to face every single day. And that in itself is humbling. It’s also humbling to realise that there’s a lot more to this job than you first realised.

There’s also a lot to learn about it. You’ll realise just how much there is to do and and some of the technical challenges, and the technical knowledge that some of your people have, so that’s humbling in itself.

But also, you’ll learn a lot about the job. And that will mean that future proposals, future initiatives, future risk assessments, future SOPs, whatever you’re involved in, those things will be rooted in fact, they’ll be rooted in experience. And people will find it more difficult to pull the wool over your eyes as well, because, you’ll know what the job really involves, rather than in theory whilst being at behind your desk. You’ll be much harder to con. 

And your participation will be noticed. People will respect you for giving it a go. You’ll gain credibility and you’ll get valuable time one-on-one with people doing the job, time to build relationships, to find out more about them, what they like and what they don’t like and how they need support and so on.

So there are other benefits other than just controlling your ego. 

So if you want to build relationships at work, control your ego, listen to your people and get your hands dirty.

Enjoy your week and take care!