What do “healthy workplace relationships” look like?


“Relationship” is a word that we are hearing more about in the workplace to designate positive personal connections with our colleagues. Although expressing emotions at work is still considered unacceptable in most workplaces, positive emotions have an impact on the quality of relationships at work and ultimately, the work that gets done. Its wonderful when the good feelings that we experience when we are “connected” and a part of the lives of those around us at work are acknowledged.

As a leader, you swim in emotions and relationships daily without thinking about how important they are to your ability to lead – and more importantly, to the bottom line. When you see that it’s okay to recognize and express the feelings you have for those who follow you, you’ll also see a positive impact to the work of your organization.

It takes effort to change your workplace into one that has healthy relationships. It begins with your reaching out, listening to people, asking and accepting their opinions; you can read more about what it takes in almost any of my posts.

Yet how do you know that you are being effective? Here are some things you would see in a workplace with healthy relationships:

Followers are willing to do what needs to be done: Whining and complaining about the work don’t exist. The people you lead are following willingly and joyfully.

Positive attitudes: Positivity prevails. There is a “can do” attitude. The workplace is alive with people who see possibility and work toward goals happily.

You’ll hear good news and bad news: People are willing to come forward with any news, even if it isn’t positive. They know that it is important to let you know exactly what you need to hear.

Climbing back up on the horse: Failure happens. You and your employees are willing to accept their role in failure without blaming others, and they get back up to try again.

Focus on the right things: People around you aren’t heading in the wrong direction. They know the outcomes expected, and are heading right at them.

Give and take without expecting something in return: Employees readily share their knowledge and skills with each other, without expectation of getting something in return.

Development is a part of the culture: Leaders are coaching their staff and openly asking for feedback to get better at what they do. Staff readily accepts responsibility to find ways to develop themselves.

Praise and recognition is given regularly: Yes, critical feedback is essential, and is given without reservation. But there is also a greater focus on providing praise and recognition for what’s being done well.

Conflict is dealt with in a positive way: Employees recognize that conflict is a normal way of life and that healthy conflict is good for the workplace. Innovation and creativity increase as conflict is seen as a positive influence.

What have you noticed about workplaces with healthy relationships?

I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.

3 comments on “What do “healthy workplace relationships” look like?

  1. Hi,

    I think transparency is also important factor for healthy relationships in workplace. If your employees have considerable knowledge of what is going on they trust you. Apart from this I also believe better and frequent communications between employers and employees also play a vital role in healthy relationship.

  2. Nice post – and I agree especially with the points about building a culture of development and praise. You get more of what you reward. And yes, Culture trumps strategy and is the most powerful determiner of success in any organization!

  3. Great post and I agree! The one thing I would say and believe is that the most effective way to develop and foster these relationships is to roll up our sleeves and do what they do. Get into classrooms and teach as often as you can. We can not ask our teachers to do things we are not doing ourselves. Teaching in front of them makes ourselves vulnerable and breaks down the wall that often exists between teacher and administrator

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