When you look at how much of our lives we spend at work it’s really quite attention-grabbing. I did a very rough calculation based on 40 years and 40 hours a week – and I took out holidays and weekends. It works out approximately at 4900 hours. That’s a lot of hours, especially if you do lots of overtime and weekends. All of that time, you’re probably going to mixing with people – usually, quite a large number of people.
We are ‘relationship seeking’, says Eric Berne, originator of Transactional Analysis. So for all of that time, we’re moving in and out of relationships with other people. So here, I’m categorising any interaction with another as ‘relationship’.
Then there’s what happens when we go home, another set of relationships, and where we came from – our parents and families.
So how we are in relationship with others is very important and has a major impact on the results we get generally and particularly in the context of this article, at work.
I hear a lot of talk about ’employee engagement’ at the moment. I believe that for employees to be ‘engaged’, so actively involved in what they’re doing, thinking about it, in the ‘here and now’, they’ve got to be in relationship with their manager and probably, the team they’re part of, at least, if the job is being done properly.
I see it as the role of the manager or team leader that they have the skills and ability to develop these relationships with as many team members as possible, any exclusions being the exception. This requires a lot of self-awareness and confidence, plus the ability to build high levels of trust with a wide range of character types. I think it also requires the ability to see the world from the view point of the other person – ‘putting yourself in somebody else’s shoes’, we say. That’s quite difficult to do in my experience. However, we can donate the time to get to know the people in our team and so increase the likelihood of all of us coming from the same angle.
I think this is about the ability to value the uniqueness of others in all the different forms and approaches that manifests in, and finding ways of harnessing those skills and abilities.
These are not easy things and I am aware of the relatively few, good people managers I come across in my work but it is possible to develop these skills. You need to have the intention to want the best from ALL relationships. Also, to be prepared to use the feedback we all get, especially when things don’t go to plan in a relationship, and be continually revisiting and adjusting your approach so that you get more of what works. This way, you automatically get less of what doesn’t work.
Never under estimate the power of intention.