How to boost relationships with colleagues - especially in a small team

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When working in a small team, you spend a significant amount of time in a close-knit environment, where you all play a substantial role in the quality of your daily work life. The truth is that the state of our relationships with coworkers affects us greatly, in our ability to develop professionally and also in our emotional well-being.

Naturally, it’s in our best interests to form healthy, effective relationships with colleagues, however, this isn’t always a straightforward task. The workplace brings together a mixed bag of people, with different values, experiences, cultures, expectations, age ranges, and personalities –all sources of potential conflict–, so it’s no surprise that disagreements and tensions can arise when dealing with others, especially when working in a small team.

To help you with this we’ve compiled a list of attributes and ways you can boost your relationships with your colleagues.

Communication
Communicate with each other honestly and professionally. Convey your opinions and concerns while listening to each other's points of view. Nobody appreciates a ‘know-it-2all’ attitude. 

Make sure everyone is kept up to date with the latest changes to the business. As it is a small team you don’t want anyone to feel left out of the loop or feel unwanted. Showing initiative is a great thing, but it needs to be used by including others and receiving their support. Remember the art of good communication means listening as much as speaking.

Respect, not fear
Fear and respect follow wherever authority lies. In a small team, the actions of colleagues, particularly those with a leadership position, can result in a work life of anxiousness. Fear breeds anxiety, cynicism, distrust, and intimidation, all of which can be poisonous to any team or organization. These consequences make transparency and honesty nearly impossible, killing any opportunity for communication. If people are too afraid to bring up an issue, there is a clear dysfunction within the organization.

Learn to respect each other. Respect brings greater productivity, loyalty and overall better satisfaction than fear does. It’s reciprocal. If you treat someone respectfully, their opinion of you will improve, too. It is about freedom of expression and the ability to express yourself without fear of reprisal.

Trust
Work to establish a company culture of trust where each team member is viewed as a valued asset. Regularly hold team building activities, encourage group work projects and give praise for efforts and accomplishments. 

Stop gossip and tension before it gets out of control by having a model of open communication. This means sharing news and information and making employees feel like they’re valued and appreciated.

Stay away from micromanagement! It is really a trust issue, it shows a colleague that you do not trust their judgement to get the work done.

When you make a mistake, promptly admit it, and find ways to make amends. When you do not have the answer to questions, or do not know how to approach a project, admit it, you will appear both human and trustworthy.

Acknowledgement
Don’t just only highlight the negatives, highlight the positives! Make sure the team members are credited and given praise when there are achievements. A lack of acknowledgement can leave colleagues feeling ignored, ostracized and/or not feeling like they are an integral part of the company.

Learn to acknowledge and validate the other person's perspective. Once you "see" why others believe what they believe, acknowledge it. Remember: acknowledgement does not always equal agreement. You can accept that people have different opinions from your own and that they may have good reason to hold those opinions.

Empathy
In the workplace, empathy shows a deep respect for co-workers and shows that you care, as opposed to just going by rules and regulations. Empathy is the ability to step into someone else’s shoes, be aware of their feelings and understand their needs. An empathic leadership style can make everyone feel like a team and increase productivity, morale and loyalty. Empathy is a powerful tool in the leadership belt of a well-liked and respected executive.

Have Fun!
Put simply, go out, socialise! Team socialising helps to boost the the morale you have with your coworkers. Try socialising in an environment that isn’t the workspace, to give you a breather and get to know your colleagues in a more relaxed and informal setting and Boost your relationships.

There are many reasons why investing time into building a healthy relationship with colleagues is extremely worthwhile. Good relationships help develop a confident workplace where the environment empowers you to deal comfortably with any potential stressful situations. If you are happier at work, you will be happier outside of work, so the benefits are endless.

BY TOTO OBI, JUNIOR AT CEW COMMUNICATIONS.