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Relationship management in the workplace – some tips

I have taken a wide definition of relationship management for this article – upwards, downwards as well as lateral. In the workplace relationship management has a lot to do with performance management, your own and others. It is also about getting buy in to your ideas/agenda, particularly in areas outside your immediate team, where the same shared priorities may not apply.

Upwards – your line report
– Know your line manager’s expectations of you/ask if you need clarification
– Write your own objectives, make them challenging. Have an ‘owner manager’ mentality
– Seek to structure your job around your strengths
– Keep your line manager fully in the picture as to key developments in your area
– Give early warning of any issues/there should be ‘ no surprises’
– Go to your line manager with solutions not problems

The more you do the above the more you will build trust, and the more freedom and discretion you will have to get on with your job.

Downwards – those that report to you
– Have clearly defined roles for team members
– Agree clear, measurable and challenging annual objectives
– Have regular informal progress reviews as well as formal reviews
– Emphasize importance of being a team player
– Insist on early notice of problems but be supportive in addressing issues
– Be generous in acknowledging individual and team successes/contribution
– Be supportive of individuals career and personal development plans
– Create a relaxed /fun working environment

You have to earn the respect of your team through your own behavior as a manager. Using ‘position power’ to force your agenda through will not work in the long run and will damage relationships.

Lateral – colleagues in other areas
– Learn their perspective/priorities, seek out common ground
– Know the strengths/weaknesses of your negotiating position
– While ‘diplomacy’ may be required, be open and direct *
– Best to win support by power of argument
– Escalate to senior management, as last resort*

* hidden agendas and ‘going above someones head’ to get support may damage relationships



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