Being a “technical expert” as a manager is essential to keep things running smoothly but building solid relationships is also critical because as a manager you must rely on others to support you to achieve your goals and objectives.

If you have poor working relationships with your peers or team it is unlikely that they will support your ideas.  However the key to improving relationships with others is to be able to see yourself how others see you and to be able to understand the impact that your behaviour has on others.  For example, while humour is an important aspect of working life, continual sarcasm can be hurtful and may alienate people causing you to loose their support.

Feedback on your personal style can be gained in a number of ways, for example by:

  • Asking a trusted colleague of their impressions of your style and impact in different situations.
  • Collect feedback from staff during performance appraisal interviews.
  • Use a more formal method of collecting feedback via a 360° feedback instrument.

Once you have some evidence about how your behaviour impacts others, you can alter it to build better and more productive relationships.  The following tips may help:

  • Take an active interest in others, their tastes and interests.
  • Be friendly and positive when you meet someone for the first time.
  • Use open body gestures and smile more.
  • Ask people directly how work/home/college etc is going for them.
  • Focus on people’s positive points rather than their weaknesses.
  • Apologise if you make a mistake.
  • Be less judgemental in your day to day dealings with people.
  • Spend more time listening and talking to people over coffee, lunch etc.
  • Help other people when they are in difficulty or struggling with someone.

Finally, and probably the most important is to check that you are being courteous to others at all times.  How often do you greet people when you see them, even in passing?  How often do you say thank you?

Following these simple tips will help you build better relationships both inside and outside work.