Building strong, healthy relationships with people at work can certainly be intimidating if you don't know where to start. However, it is critically important for employees to build relationships with their coworkers in order for them to feel engaged and want to stay with the company long-term.
In order to start building those relationships as soon as possible, read this article to learn about the three pillars of relationship building. It's a simple yet effective framework for understanding how relationships grow over time.
The Three Pillars of Relationship Building:
1. Identifying Shared Values
2. Activating the Give-Get Cycle
3. Accomplishing Goals Together
Identifying Shared Values
The first way people build relationships is by identifying that they share one or more values with another person. We’ve all experienced the feeling when we realize another person shares a value that is important in our lives.
Here are some examples of Identifying Shared Values in action:
● At a happy hour, one sales person is talking to another about sports. Both of them ride road bikes regularly. They value exercise, taking care of their bodies, and working to improve their performance.
● A digital marketer is talking to a person from finance about TV shows. It turns out that both of them liked a recent documentary about nature. They figure out that they both are concerned about the environment, are fanatical about recycling and composting, and love their gardens.
● An engineering director is talking to a sales manager. They each learn that the other is a coach for their child’s soccer team. They share the view that spending time with family is important, and they also both like sports.
Identifying shared values is a very simple way to connect, yet if you can help people activate it, your team will grow closer one relationship at a time.
The second way people build relationships is by activating the Give-Get Cycle. It sounds fancy, but it’s also pretty straightforward. Reciprocity is fundamental to how we judge the strength of our relationships.
Here are some examples of the Give-Get Cycle in Action:
● A couple living together is tackling the nightly ritual of making dinner. One partner says, “I’ll cook dinner if you do the dishes.” Seems fair, right?
● Or, if someone helps a friend move into their new apartment, maybe they get a six pack of beer and a pizza as a small thank you. It’s the least you can do when someone helps you move.
● When it comes time for sending out holiday cards, it’s common to remove people from the list when they haven’t sent a reciprocating card in a few years.
● And, in the workplace, if I continue to give you appreciation for all your hard work, and you give me none back in return, I might just start feeling like our relationship isn’t very strong.
Giving and receiving recognition is probably the most common and also the easiest way to activate the Give-Get Cycle at work. “Thanks for paying attention to our client’s needs on that analysis you did, John.” Someone gives recognition, and another person receives it. Another relationship is strengthened.
Within reasonable bounds, there is no amount of recognition giving and receiving that is too much. A team that focuses on giving and receiving recognition will be a stronger team.
Accomplishing Shared Goals
The third way people grow relationships is by accomplishing shared goals together. Working with others and getting something done provides a framework for cooperation, communication, and having fun.
Here are some examples of Accomplishing Shared Goals in action:
● A team creates a sales goal for the quarter and keeps a score board. When they achieve their sales goal, everyone celebrates.
● Two friends decide to get in shape and start running. They register for a 5K three months in the future. Training together a few days a week and keeping tabs on each other provides dozens of touch points over the three months. When they cross the finish line together, the high five says it all.
● An engineering team decides to organize a food drive for a local food bank. They set a goal of filling up two trash cans of food. When the cans are full, the team drives over to the food bank and delivers the food. The smiles on their faces are a clear sign that they have come together and done something valuable together.
Depending on the type of work you do, there could be many ways to set a shared goal with colleagues and accomplish it. Whether it is a sales goal, a new product launch, the deployment of a new employee benefit program, or hosting an event, people love to come together to get stuff done.
By optimizing these three pillars of relationship building, anyone can get started forming stronger, healthier relationships at work. These genuine human connections are so valuable and contribute to overall happiness. So what are you waiting for?