• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Five ways to maintain good work relationships

Mastering the modern workplace: The art of balancing technical prowess with soft-skills for career success

“Why is it so difficult to work with women bosses? Even though they are high up there on the career ladder and well-established, they still feel the need to intimidate those working for, with, and around them. So much for all the International Women’s Day slogans or shenanigans? It seems to be the height of hypocrisy to me and one of the reasons women still have less representation in boardrooms.

Even though my boss sees nothing good in my work because she always complains about my low deposit drive, she would not let me move to another department where I could be more productive.

Read also: Love and Money: How finances can make or break relationships

Honestly, I am not passionate about marketing or mobilising deposits because it sometimes involves meeting some unscrupulous men for them. There was finally an opening in the customer care department where I could be productive due to my passion for it and previous work experience.

Unfortunately, Mrs. A, our head of client services, who happened to be a friend of my current boss, turned down my application while still looking for a candidate to fill the role. I later learned that my boss refused to sign off on the inter-department transfer form required to accept me into the new role. I am confused as to what to do now. Please help.”

The story here is much deeper than revealed in those few words above. A brief deep dive indicated that it was a working relationship that started on a very wrong footing amidst a terrible workplace culture. So, here are a few tips on identifying and maintaining different types of work relations to stay out of trouble.

Figuring it out – Identifying and treating people in the workplace is crucial for career success and professional relationships. Five work ties exist, including colleagues, friends, best friends, and enemies. Maintaining civility, objectivity, and mutual respect is expected. Avoid mistakenly treating superiors or direct reports as friends, and maintain work-appropriate conversations and hobbies to avoid favouritism and undue advantages.

Work anxiety and trouble disclosures are encouraged in mentor/mentee scenarios, as long as they don’t involve team members. Career mentors are there to help professionally, so discussing personal issues should be discouraged. Remember the purpose of the relationship and avoid oversharing. Best practices include allowing clients to take control of conversations.

 “Designing an alliance is a crucial coaching tool for all workplace and personal relationships, involving open discussions about relationship rules”

This case study highlights the importance of understanding and recognising the categories of interactions in a work relationship. It highlights the error of not recognizing these categories, leading to crossing boundaries. The writer’s superior/direct report relationship with her boss involved them engaging in activities expected of colleagues. Despite the psychological benefits, this type of connection is often inappropriate due to the accompanying consequences.

Read also: Simply principles to building solid relationships, homes

Avoiding money talk – Mz. Zara’s work relationship with her boss extended to her best friend, leading to inappropriate money discussions. This highlights the dangers of not understanding who is who and treating work relationships appropriately. Discussing personal expenses can make others uncomfortable, including the boss, and can potentially lead to envy.

Building a healthy team – Work enemies are unlikely to be on your team, but forming cliques and class structures can be risky. These can lead to a toxic environment, fueled by personal goals rather than corporate ones. Building teams with only friends can result in social discrimination and technical bankruptcy. Instead, involve different people in projects to create a focus force with a uniform corporate goal.

Avoiding office romance – Avoid office romance or report it whenever it happens. This includes client/staff romance and breakups, to avoid compromises and undue advantage. Following the company’s HR policy or guidelines for this is highly recommended. Unfortunately, the writer was exposed to some uncomfortable information by way of association that may be difficult to report to HR or unlearn.

Staying positive – Even though the situation, in this case, is somewhat sticky, staying positive by taking the lessons learned from the experience and moving on would be the best way to go about this. Maintaining a good relationship with a boss or colleague requires deliberate efforts. However, compromising values can lead to unfathomable exposure and psychological instability. In this case study, leaving the organisation on a positive note may strengthen her resolve while allowing for positive references.

Workplace connections are crucial for personal and professional growth. When problems arise, it’s essential to resolve them peacefully without compromising personal peace. Designing alignment at the start of a job is critical for every employee and should be part of every company’s onboarding program.

Designing an alliance is a crucial coaching tool for all workplace and personal relationships, involving open discussions about relationship rules. It is essential for new relationships and changing roles, as working in an organisation is the primary relationship. Failure to develop appropriate alliances can lead to conflicting values and failed relationships.

Read also: The impact of Japa Syndrome on work and family relationships in Nigeria today

Mz. Zara did not just experience a failed relationship with the boss but the whole organisation the moment her values conflicted with the unspoken ones of the company. She has taken a good step by contacting a career coach who will successfully lead her out of the snare.

Call to action!

Should you need to talk to an expert on work-related issues, kindly email [email protected] for some career coaching sessions. Remember, I am here to help build great workplaces, one person or organisation at a time.

Please note that names of people and organisations remain changed or undisclosed for confidentiality purposes.


Olayinka Opaleye is a Well-being Specialist and Corporate Wellness Strategist. She writes from Lagos. Tel: 09091131150 or follow her on www.linkedin.com/in/olayinkaopaleye