The quality of workplace relationships is a major contributor to productivity and employee satisfaction. It follows therefore that when relationships struggle it will have a serious knock-on effect. Problems in the workplace are a major contributor to team dysfunction and individual inefficiency.
An extended network
An organisation is simply an extended network of human relationships, and it is those relationships that keep things running, get results and contribute to overall performance.
Poor relationships obviously affect the quality of interactions between employees at all levels. They also contribute the single biggest unnecessary cost borne by organisations. These costs – real financial loss – are incurred through for example, under-performance, absenteeism, staff turnover, mistakes, neglect and demotivation.
Tensions between people working together are inevitable, but it is not inevitable that disagreements and differences, where they arise, should limit or damage performance.
A healthy working environment is culturally enabled to deal with conflict, and this filters down to individual employees who are willing to weather the tensions and sort out differences in a mature way.
It is also the quality of those relationships that determine the culture of the organisation; good relationships produce better results, make for more satisfying places to work, and foster healthier staff development by osmosis.
Good relationships at work need to be fostered. Managers contribute by modelling the appropriate skills and behaviour, and company decision-makers should ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for employees to do the maintenance that all relationships need. People who are constantly exhorted to ‘do more’ can start to overlook the quality of the interactions with those with whom they do it. The busier people are the more likely they are to neglect the social niceties on which community, business or otherwise, is founded.
The quality of working relationships have a major impact on all aspects of an organisation’s performance, including the bottom line. Despite the vital importance of how people engage and interact at work, relationships in most organisations get no attention, until something goes wrong. This isn’t surprising, since the ones that most need attention are with the people you have most difficulty interacting with.