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Meaningful relationships at work

The Collective Results team recently set our core values, and the concept of relationships emerged as an important one for us.

We build collaborative relationships and partnerships on a foundation of respect, trust, kindness and transparency as we work to achieve meaningful results.

Relationships are a fundamental part of the human experience. They are vitally important in all aspects of our lives at work and outside of work. In this blog, each member of our dream team shares their thoughts on how to engage in meaningful relationships at work.

Jennifer: A Maya Angelou quote that I wholeheartedly agree with is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I build relationships by ensuring that I treat people in a way that will result in them feeling better about themselves. It’s easy to do when the interaction is inherently positive. I've also found that it’s possible to have difficult conversations and still ensure that the other person feels heard, respected and valued.

Lindsay: As cliché as it is, I have found the best way to connect with people in the work environment and build meaningful relationships is simply to be my authentic self. However, as an introvert, this tends to happen after a comfortable period of time and usually requires a “leap of vulnerability” on my part (often using humour) to connect. Ironically, my most meaningful work relationships with colleagues have been built outside of work – such as, going for walks at lunch, attending an out-of-town conference together, or taking an afternoon tea break. Through those non-work-related conversations, shared interests, values, and experiences are discovered that transfer into a stronger working relationship from that connection. As we start to return to more in-person opportunities for connection, I will do so with a new appreciation for those small, but incredibly meaningful, interactions.

Michi: There is no doubt that building relationships with colleagues is important for productivity, performance and overall satisfaction with your work life. But it takes on a new level of significance when the success of your work is dependent on collaboration and partnerships. Like Lindsay, I believe being authentic or genuine is central to developing relationships at work. I also think, showing your human side by admitting mistakes you have made and allowing others to make mistakes is important. Expressing gratitude towards others – even for the small things can also go a long way. Building trust is also crucial; follow through on your commitments or acknowledge why you might not be able to. Finally, never underestimate the power of a little humour to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously. Relationships do not happen overnight; you must take the time and care necessary to build them.

Ishan: Time is such a great resource and it is one we tend to feel we never have as much as we want or need. So, it would only make sense that in a world of striving for hyper efficiency, improving productivity and endless demands on schedules that sharing time would be important to building meaningful relationships. In my experience, making the time to connect, listen and show empathy has been foundational to my closest personal and professional relationships. I have not always been great at intentionally dedicating time to foster relationships (and I know that it is a struggle for many, especially during the pandemic), but I am always thankful when I do. Recently, I have set aside time to reach out to some former coworkers every few weeks and not only has it allowed us to stay in touch, I know that we all appreciate the time that the other is taking to connect.

Liz: Building collaborative relationships not only leads to better project outcomes but it also makes our work both fun and enjoyable! When I look back at all of the places I’ve worked, what I remember most are the amazing people I have worked with. I find that role modelling our values through our actions is one way to help build strong and trusting relationships in the workplace. Over time, this allows strong relationships to develop that are rooted in our shared values in how we approach and find meaning in our work. In addition to that, I also enjoy getting to know the people that I work with by sharing our interests and parts of our lives outside of work. This allows for connections to become more than our work to-do list! Sometimes great connections in the workplace can even lead to fun activities with colleagues outside of work (e.g., playing on ultimate frisbee teams, book clubs etc.). During the pandemic, I have approached relationships with a willingness to test different ways to make connections in virtual platforms including ice-breakers and a great get-to-know your colleagues activity called “How We Roll” found in Rituals for Virtual Meetings.

Amy: There is a human element to all of the work that Collective Results does. Even when we’re doing something concrete, like analyzing data, we’re always thinking about how people will understand it and how they’ll use it to take action. To be effective in our work, we have to develop effective and collaborative working relationships with each other and with our clients. As you have seen from the reflections of my colleagues above, there is so much that goes into developing a truly collaborative relationship: trust, authenticity, understanding each other’s needs, influence, conflict resolution, and so much more. When developed, truly collaborative relationships are not only effective, but also fulfilling. I’ve been listening to the book Connect: Building Exceptional Relationships with Family Friends and Colleagues by David Bradford and Carole Robin, which is based on the curriculum from the Interpersonal Dynamics course at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. This book is great because it provides research to support the importance of developing relationships and a step-by-step approach on how to develop them. It also prompts you to work through exercises, with specific examples in mind, to improve your relationships. I’ve learned a lot from this book, and it’s helped me reflect and understand why I’ve been effective in some of my past attempts to build relationships and not-so-effective in others. I will surely be applying my learnings to build even more exceptional relationships in work and in life moving forward. Highly recommend!

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