Managing relationships with other people in organisations

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EFFECTIVE group interaction, team-working and harmonious relationships are essential to the productivity of any organisation.

In order for groups and teams to function well within organisations, everyone needs to feel valued and to respect the feelings and emotions of the other group and team members. Each person needs to look at his or her own behaviour and the effect it has upon others, as well as understanding the behaviour of others and the effect that has upon him or herself.

Achieving a balance is not always easy. There are several ideas and techniques that can help people to analyse their own and other people’s approaches to building effective professional relationships, and to decide on practical steps to improve effectiveness in working with other people, building on previous experience and expertise. Management plays a crucial role in providing professional support and guidance to members of an organisation.

Effective working relationships

As chief executive officer it will be your role to work with the governors and senior leaders to create the environment where constructive relationships are maintained. Managing relationships and behaviours with professional detachment requires a degree of self-awareness, skill and sensitivity in dealing with other people. This kind of working environment throws up a whole range of pressures on the day-to-day relationships that governors and the senior leadership team need to maintain.

A key aspect of managing relationships is being honest, open and direct. This is the core of assertive behaviour.
Different types of behaviour

Clear, honest, open communication and assertiveness can help to reduce stress in interactions with other people. To understand what assertiveness is, we must, first of all, be clear about what it is not. The checklist below gives examples of three different styles of behaviour that are not assertive: aggressive, indirect and submissive. Most of us tend to vary our style of communication depending on the circumstances and who we are talking to. Sometimes, however, an individual consistently uses a style which gets in the way of genuine dialogue.

Our behaviour towards each other is affected by factors such as personality, position in the organisation, power, perception, mood and history. We cannot expect to behave in the same way all the time because the chemistry involved in interacting with other people is unique to each event and incident. However, developing an awareness of ourselves, and how we respond to others is a key dimension of our professional development. By developing assertive behaviour, we are more likely to have our own needs met and to be meeting the other person’s needs at the same time. This, in turn, increases our self-confidence and improves our working relationships with others.

Four behavioural styles found in the workplace

Analyticals are people who are less assertive and less responsive. Emotionally restrained, they rarely compliment others or get excited. They are organised and systematic. They crave data— the more, the better. They are slow decision-makers because they want to make sure they have carefully weighed all the facts.

Amiables are, like analyticals, less assertive, but more responsive. Friendly and generous with their time, they are excellent team players. They are not flamboyant creators, but rather diligent, quiet workers who do what is asked of them.

Expressives are, like amiables, more responsive. But they are also more assertive. They are friendly and empathetic like amiables but are not as low-key about it. Flamboyant, energetic, and impulsive, they are the most outgoing of the people styles.

Drivers are, like expressives, more assertive. But they are less responsive. Decisive and task-oriented, they focus intently on the job at hand. In conversations, they get right to the point. They are purposeful and energetic, just as expressives. But expressives are concerned about people as human beings. For drivers, there’s no time for such concerns.

However, there is no right or wrong style. Each style can be a good place to be. It is also important to note that one’s dominant style is a tendency. Each of us may exhibit aspects of each style, and few of us exhibit all the tendencies of our dominant style. The style we adopt is also situated: who we are at work, for example, is not necessarily who we are at home.

Communication

“Communication problems” seems to be a catch-all for all the ills, mistakes and misunderstandings that characterise college life. The essence of survival in any organisation is to be able to communicate effectively. Communication strategies, systems and practices do play a central role in high performance, influencing the energy levels for change and improvement. Effective communication requires effective strategy— a coherent plan of action.

Improving communication means giving attention to the words you use, how you use them and your ability to listen.

An important aspect of a clerk’s interactions with other people is presenting your case and your views to others.

There are several ideas and techniques that can help people to analyse their own and other people’s approaches to building effective professional relationships, and to decide on practical steps to improve effectiveness in working with other people, building on previous experience and expertise. Effective group interaction, team-working and harmonious relationships are essential to the productivity of any organisation.

Robert Mandeya is an executive leadership coach, trainer in human capital development and corporate education, a certified leadership and professional development practitioner and founder of the Institute of Leadership, Research and Development (LiRD). — robert@lird.co.zw/www.lird.co.zw.

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