Stepping into the uncharted waters of a new job, whether as an employee or a manager, can be overwhelming. Of course, many necessary items need to be learned, but the relationships developed within a team can be vital for long term success and job satisfaction.
Personally, I feel that I’ve done pretty well in this area throughout my life whether working on volunteer teams or on the job. But, it’s never easy. I’ve made mistakes, but I always strive to learn from them and do better next time.
The following are a few elements that I’ve found beneficial in creating strong working relationships:
1. Be Ladies and Gentlemen- I’ve heard it said that the definition of a gentleman is someone who has the ability to make the others around him feel comfortable. This is essential, because what team player wants to feel uncomfortable? Here are a few tips:
- Ask the other person a question, listen well and ask more questions based off what is learned. Don’t talk about yourself, or keep it to a minimum.
- Chivalry isn’t dead– Hold the door for the other person (this goes for both sexes), look out for needs by the other person and help him out.
- Be observant– take a few mental notes on what the other person said. What seems to stand out? What is most important to him?
- Be present while engaging in conversation, and maintain eye contact. Do not suddenly start having a side conversation with someone else, check e-mails, or do any other distracting behavior. The listener will feel unappreciated, and disconnect. At that point the possibility of a strong working relationship has been damaged.
- Names are important. It’s been said that there is no greater sound to someone than his own name. I know when someone calls me by name, I feel more included. Learning names can be daunting, especially if you are like me and struggle to recall names. But, that isn’t an excuse. Check out http://namerick.com/ to improve name recalling skills.
- Don’t Gossip. People talk, but don’t get involved in gossip. People feel empowered by knowing something that others’ don’t, and it can be tempting to run and tell others the latest tidbit of news. Others will love to hear the news! Just know that the flip side can be loss of trust and a working relationship with the person you are gossiping about. Ask yourself, “Will anyone really gain from this knowledge or am I actually doing harm?”
2. Be Direct- Personally, I’ve struggled with this one. But, over the years I’ve grown to know the vital importance of being direct. It is unhealthy to hold in feelings of frustration or hurt. Also, holding it in can lead to gossip or blame. Let’s say you are frustrated by a team member, but instead of telling him directly, you choose to tell everyone else around you about your irritation. Well, what happens? Of course, someone else (not you) eventually tells that team member. Now, the team member is hurt and devastated by your unwillingness to be direct.
Also, do not vent hurts over social media, texting, or even a direct e-mail. Those are cowardly mediums of confrontation. I love this scripture from the Bible, and it offers me strength, when I know that direct confrontation is required. “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him of his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” Matthew 18:15. Finally, once it’s done. It’s done. Don’t speak of the problem again with anyone. Forgive and move on. The result will be a stronger level of trust and understanding between team members.
3. Be Patient- Patience is love. Relationships cannot be forced. It takes time, and demonstrating the elements above day after day until trust is established and goals can be met as a team is essential. Patience can be difficult though, especially when things don’t seem to be moving fast enough, and the vision seems to be at a stalemate. This is when it’s important to bring your best every day, and just keeping working. Be the example that you want to see in others.
An exercise that I used this school year in patience included the following story. It was a fantastic reminder to me throughout the rest of the school year.
This past Christmas, my pastor gave a sermon on the importance of integrity. He had the entire congregation complete this exercise. I took it, typed and printed it, and finally placed in on my desk. It helped me to bring my best to my fellow coworkers and students so that we could grow stronger together. Here it is….
This scripture is often heard at weddings, but this one scripture can totally change your outlook by removing the word “love” and replacing it with your own name.
Here is the scripture….
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Now, this is what I placed on my desk….
Am I Demonstrating Integrity Today?
Laura is patient, Laura is kind. She does not envy, she does not boast, she is not proud. She does not dishonor others, she is not self-seeking, she is not easily angered, she keeps no record of wrongs. Laura does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. Laura always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
This helped me grow in so many ways. I recommend it to anyone who desires to grow in faith, as a person, and as a team member.
As we all reflect on the past school year, and work toward a new one, I hope that we think on these elements, and find ways to grow and improve.
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.