How to Build Relationships that Maximize Performance at Work

Part of me just wants to be left alone so I can do my work. But success requires positive relationships.

Two people on bikes.

Relationships impact success. Who you know influences where you go.

Why positive work relationships matter:

  1. Shared knowledge. Mentoring and being mentored is relationship-based learning.
  2. Productivity. Worker productivity is connected to the productivity of co-workers. Introduce a highly productive worker on a team and the team’s productivity goes up. The more frequent the contact, the more powerful the positive impact. (Mas & Moretti)
  3. Satisfaction and retention. Positive social relationships at work significantly impact employee satisfaction. (Sias)
  4. Isolation makes you sick and shortens your life. (Holt-Lunstad et al.)
  5. Innovation. Team members with strong ties tend to create an environment where innovation thrives. (Wang, Fang, Qureshi, & Janssen)

Know strengths – maximize performance:

Knowing the strengths and weakness of team members enables you to predict and maximize their contribution.

In order to maximize relationships, know when to invite people into the discussion. Many teams are frustrated because they expect thinkers to make quick decisions and decision-makers to explore several options.

  1. Explore options for moving forward with people who love ideas.
  2. Avoid putting introverts on the spot. Prepare them for your questions.
  3. Don’t frustrate thinkers by expecting them to act quickly.
  4. Don’t frustrate activators by holding them back.

Meet in person:

Remote work is here to stay. But when possible, bring people together for social interaction.

I’ve seen remote teams light up when they meet face-to-face and engage in social interaction.

All work and no social interactions make teams dull.

Model the way:

  1. Use people’s names.
  2. Know family members’ names.
  3. Ask about life outside work. Do employees work-out? Ask about it, for example.

Positive relationships elevate our quality of life.

Jim Harter, Ph.D., Chief Workplace Scientist for Gallup talks about maximizing relationships. (2:15)

How might leaders promote positive relationships at work?

Bonus material:

Having a Best Friend at Work Transforms the Workplace (Gallup)

Building Positive Relationships at Work (Garfinkle)

8 Ways to Build Workplace Relationships (Indeed)