Managing Professional Relationships

How does managing a professional relationship at work differ from managing and improving one at home – with your partner, siblings or even friends?

Well, an obvious one is that it can impact on your professional image – and that can be important not only to you, but your team/colleagues and the company image too.

And it may be more public too.

Personal relationships affect your work relationships in that your expectations in one reflect in the other – oppositely or the same.   It depends on you and your outlook.

Professionally too, you have different things invested in it – some more, some less than with family members and socially.

For example,

Income – this not only provides you but your family too with what you need (meeting needs) and what you/they want too

Social image – professional image reflects on how you manage your public persona out with the family and friends, in social situations as well and how you might see out and about – or who might see you!  It doesn’t always run that they are separate or distant, depending on the locality and the circles you run in and your family do too.

Disagreements or worries at home inevitably affect your mind-set at work with distractions, stress or attitude changes people notice.  Vice versa, home is affected by workplace relationships that spill over because you are one and the same person!

You might try but you cannot cut off at the door!

During a difficult time at work for me, looking back now I can clearly see the impact on my children, and other family members, my image personally and professionally and the ongoing impact on me and my professional life!

Workplace Relationships

It might be conflict with the team or just one member; your manager or even perhaps the leadership group as a whole!  It might be a customer care problem or actions outside work that are negatively influencing the work place status and PR for you and the organisation, or just you…

Whatever it is, it won’t be comfortable!  Nor easy!  It won’t necessarily be too difficult to manage but it won’t feel easy and straightforward -because it’s complex, like all relationships!

The answer is to Just Talk!  Talking resolves the issues, because you can both put your point of view forward and understand the other person’s situation too.   There are guidelines and etiquette for professional behaviours that have to observed when you work for someone or with other people, and when you have responsibilities to customers, stakeholders and each other. And your family’s well-being could be at stake!

So who should start the conversation?   How should it be handled?  Who should be involved?

Well, firstly, it depends on the situation and the problem.  Then on the people involved and the outcomes potentially expected.

Grievances can be taken out by an employee against their manger or company.   HR are usually involved and they manage this.  However, on a day to day basis the manager should be able to handle peer problems within their team, with or without HR advice; the peer to peer problem could also potentially be resolved by Just Talking to each other too.

Where the company image might be affected or even lose out in some way (sabotage, sharing information, stealing) then clearly HR and management teams need to be kept aware at the very least.

The outcomes can be anything from an informal chat and explanation to a warning, or formal procedures leading to potential dismissal for future misdemeanour.  Or awareness that dismissal might take a less obvious form in redundancy, forced retirement, early release and more, even bullying you out.

Professionally, your behaviour could follow you and your next application might be impacted by dismissal explanations or lack of reference from a former employer.  It could negatively influence your future options too, which in turn affect you personally – and your family.

The ‘image’ impact is always present – personally, professionally and your self image too.

  • Think about your behaviours in and out of work
  • Think about your words and attitude
  • Think about your options on meeting your needs to be seen/hear/understood
  • And even take advice formally or from friends and family members
  • The reason and circumstances matter
  • Your future plans and dreams matter so look at how they might be affected
  • Look at practical as well as emotional needs, and
  • Remember the physical impact as well as image

Again, self-awareness engages your awareness of others needs and situations, so this in turn is something to develop ongoing, and self-reflection as well as feedback from others (verbally, attitudes, body language and avoidance can all tell you what you need to know!)