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Building Healthy Work Relationships

Healthy work relationships can help you achieve career success and job satisfaction. Positive interactions with fellow employees, customers and competitors can expand your network, provide growth opportunities and yield referrals and references when you search for your next job.

Every organization has conflict. Positive communication and clearly defined roles can help the team run smoothly and keep conflict to a minimum. Successful employees develop healthy work relationships and set appropriate boundaries. If you or your coworkers aren't sure about work responsibilities or are unhappy with each other, organization morale, productivity and job satisfaction suffer. Here are some strategies to help you define your role on a team and be a positive influence in your workplace.

Clarify duties and responsibilities. Understanding your role on a team can reduce some work stress. Miscommunication about roles and responsibilities can lead to confusion, frustration and can erode team cohesion. You need to feel comfortable in your roles and interactions. Make sure you know who is responsible for the following:

  • Assigning your tasks
  • Providing feedback to you
  • Assisting you in clarifying work priorities
  • Discussing challenges or concerns
  • Clarifying the chain of command if you feel like you have multiple bosses

Be a team player. Learning to work with others is critical in the workplace. If you can't work well with others, the team will not function as effectively. Build a good working rapport with your team members by applying some of the following strategies:

  • Sharing opportunities and recognition with coworkers
  • Treating coworkers fairly and respectfully, regardless of your personal feelings
  • Resolving conflicts at the lowest level before they escalate
  • Communicating professionally, even in a relaxed work environment
  • Keeping professional conflicts confidential instead of discussing with other team members
  • Completing tasks correctly and on time

You don't have to be best friends with your coworkers, but you should establish a boundary of respect and trust. Building healthy work relationships and defining boundaries allows you to find common ground and resolve problems for the good of everyone.

Each member of your team has a job to do, including your supervisor. Supervisor relationships are different from coworker relationships. While you may not always agree with his or her decisions, your words and actions should reflect respect for their supervisory role.

Develop a positive workplace attitude. Get ready for good days and bad days, thrills and frustrations, and highs and lows at every job throughout your career. Be part of a positive solution and not a negative influence by applying some of these strategies:

  • Developing and maintaining a positive attitude
  • Accepting and appreciating personal and cultural differences
  • Earning respect and respecting others
  • Accentuating the positives, not the negatives
  • Listening, learning and continuing to grow

Avoid inappropriate workplace behavior. Inappropriate or unhealthy behaviors cause problems for employers and employees. Improper behavior decreases productivity, destroys morale and may create legal problems. Examples of behavior to avoid include:

  • Gossip, rumors and slander
  • Bullying or intimidating employees
  • Internet misuse, such as visiting inappropriate websites and using personal sites on company time, and sharing of inappropriate information
  • Discrimination
  • Sexual harassment
  • Blaming others or focusing too much on mistakes

Evaluate your current work situation. Do you have healthy work relationships or are there situations you would like to change? Try some of these new techniques to improve your work relationships and avoid negative behaviors. If you need assistance, contact a SECO career coach by calling Military OneSource at 800-342-9647.

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