Building Strong and Supportive Relationships at Work

Posted: April 8, 2008 in Personality Development
Tags: , , ,

Finding Your Allies
Building Strong and Supportive Relationships at Work

Spacer Working with allies

Building strong relationships at work.

“A problem shared is a problem halved”, as the old saying goes, and it’s true in business as well. When it comes to working your way through the challenges that you face every day, it’s a great help to be able to draw on a network of supportive individuals that you can work with to find a solution.

Allies are the people who give you backing, assistance, advice, information, protection, and even friendship. They are your support base. With strong, mutually beneficial relationships with your allies, you can survive and thrive in the corporate arena, and you can get things done quicker, and more smoothly.

Working together with allies simply helps you and them achieve more. (Here, we’re using the word “ally” in it’s positive sense – we’re not implying that you’re trying to circumvent proper channels, engage in politics or game-play, or create any kind of “us and them” culture. It is clearly wrong to behave in this way.)

Anyone and everyone who can help you achieve your objectives is a potential ally. Some are natural: These are people who share a common interest with you. The colleague who’s been around for years and can offer an invaluable voice of experience, the team member who is always happy to be a sounding board for your ideas, or the vendor who is ready to accept seemingly-impossible deadlines; these people are your natural allies.

But you can find allies in unexpected places too. Alex in finance, who pulls together an extra report on your projects finances; Claire, the secretary, who tells you when the boss is in a good mood; or Simon, your ex-department head who is always available for advice. They too are important allies.

Allies can help you directly and indirectly. For instance, if you’re running behind schedule on a project, your subordinate can help you directly by working longer hours, while your boss can help you indirectly by delegating another part of your workload to someone else.

Building Your Personal Support Base

This is one of the reasons that it’s important to be open and supportive to others in the workplace, and why it’s worth making at least some of your time available to help others out when they need help. After all, if you’re a positive and supportive person, many other people will be equally supportive towards you.

So who could your allies be? Just your team mates? Actually, your list of potential allies goes much further than this!

The table below provides an example list of allies, with the support you might be able to receive from them, and the returns you might be expected to provide to them.

Possible Allies – And What They May Want…

Potential Ally

What He/She
Could Do for You

What He/She Might Be Expecting in Return

Team Members

Assist you with regular tasks
Be loyal
Be a sounding board

Assistance with regular tasks
Loyalty
Recognition
Credit – given both publicly and privately

Boss

Protect you
Champion you
Help you in career advancement

Loyalty
Support
Assistance with his/her tasks
Commitment
Willingness to go the extra mile
Image building

Senior Management Members

Protect you
Champion you
Help you in career advancement

Loyalty
Support
Commitment
Willingness to go the extra mile
Image building

Support Staff

Willing performance of day-to-day functions
Cooperation

Appreciation
Attention
Recognition

Gateway People (Secretaries, Executive Assistants)

Provide you with access to crucial information and people

Appreciation
Attention
Recognition

Family

Provide moral support, appreciation, understanding

Moral support
Appreciation
Understanding

More Experienced Colleagues

Provide expertise, perspective, contacts, knowledge

Respect
Recognition
Attention

Networking Allies

Keep you abreast of the general buzz
Provide you advance information and background knowledge
Provide you contacts
Alert you to emerging trends and patterns

Advance information
Background knowledge
Contacts
Alerts about emerging trends and patterns

Interest Groups

Build influence
Mobilize support
Provide you with data

Assistance for their cause

Community Members

Build influence
Mobilize support
Provide you with data

Assistance for their cause

Press

Build influence
Mobilize support

Information

Government

Build influence
Mobilize support

Assistance for their cause

Clients

Provide inputs for new product development initiatives
Provide referrals
Provide preferential status

Preferential status
Willingness to go extra mile
Business leads
Referrals

Vendors

Provide extra assistance
Provide preferential status

Preferential status
Business leads
Referrals

Tip 1:
Don’t be naïve in the way that you approach people – be aware of people’s interests and duties, and understand that these may conflict with yours. Also, recognize that they may not be able to help you, for a variety of possible reasons including a very heavy workload.

And with all this talk of mutual help and information sharing, make absolutely sure that you keep confidential information confidential!

Tip 2:
Allies can’t help you if you’re not doing your job properly. Make sure you make time to look after your allies, but make sure too that you do your job to the best of your abilities.

Nurture your allies, and you’ll find that you can be so much more effective at getting things done. What’s more, things will get so much easier and more pleasant at work!



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