4 Relationships That Will Help Or Hurt Your Productivity

Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

Our socialising and productivity are all affected by the current world health crisis. We are trying new ways to adjust and balance all areas of our lives and careers.

The ‘shelter in place’ environment provides more time to reflect on different areas of your role and day to day operations. With all interactions being remote, it also highlights the productivity gains or gaps. A considerable influence on our productivity are the types of individual relationships or duo relationships we have.

A duo relationship is the building block of your network. It is also the building blocks of a team and organisational culture. They are the 1:1 relationships that you have at work, that you need to carry out your role. Each relationship type has a positive or negative impact on productivity and determines the size of your advocate network. In this article you will see the four duo relationships and their impact to your career and productivity.

One. Unbreakable. This type of relationship is built on openness and trust. There is a common understanding between you about the outcome that needs to be achieved. There is a personal element that makes working with each other something to look forward to. Discussions run free of judgement and ego since there is no reason to waste cycles on fear of hidden agendas.

Working with an unbreakable duo can be faster and at the same time feel enjoyable. You don’t need to measure your words or hold back ideas in fear of judgement. This creates an excellent breeding ground for new ideas.

It takes time to build a relationship to this level. The time is spent on establishing and building trust. During this time, you also start to understand each other thought processes. By taking the time to get to know them personally will strengthen your relationship.

Once you trust and understand, you can see passed role KPIs and align on the best way to work together. Regardless of personality types, trust, and shared goals can be found when the right intentions and effort are applied. The productivity gain from these relationships is worth the investment as well as building a strong advocate for you when you are not in the room.

Two. Strong. This type of relationship is also based on mutual trust and understanding. You both understand what you are trying to achieve and the nuances in the differing styles to achieve the result. You might have worked together a few times with excellent outcomes which as lead you to build this trust.

Working in a strong duo relationship is enjoyable. You might have different role KPIs, but you are both open for discussion to find the third option that progresses the situation. When you need to challenge each other, generally it is an open discussion with only a few things held back. The comments that are reserved are due to concern that either of you might upset the relationship.

The productivity gain means quicker outputs with better quality. You can review multiple angles to ideas and pick the best ones. As a manager, you want your team to have a high percentage of strong relationships with peers and cross-functionals, which will increase the overall performance of the group.

To build strong relationships, there are three main factors you need to demonstrate. You need to be respectful to their role and goals, be clear with your intent when working together, then deliver small results frequently.

Three. Weak. These relationships can feel a little distant. There is no trust or distrust between you. If you messaged this person out of the blue, they would likely find it strange. You work together in a more transactional style and focus on the specific task.

You might be thinking that a significant percentage of your working relationships fit into this label. It is not a neutral relationship since you both reserve crazy ideas or avoids meeting all together unless necessary. The combination of having low trust and unclear intent means that the same information has to be analysed twice by both parties.

Your goals differ, which causes misunderstanding and the need to repeat or defend yourself. You both spend more time in meetings and sending emails to achieve an outcome.

Since there is no major underlying issue, improving your relationship should be a focus. The two main areas you want to focus on is clarifying your goals upfront and understanding what the main concerns are. Listening to understand will extend trust and align your future communication. Try messaging them outside of a task and sharing information that could be useful to them and build a small dialogue on top of your work.

Four. Broken. These relationships are simply broken. Goals are misaligned, and there is no trust between you. It is hard to get a good working flow since there are background agendas and egos at play. You are both guarded hiding information tightly and considering everything a need to know basis.

There is apprehension working with each other, and hours are wasted writing emails to mitigate personal risk. We generally avoid interactions where possible, and have a list of reasons why they are wrong.

You might have a broken relationship in your team, cross-functional or sometimes even with your manager, and it is hard. There is no psychological safety, which means motivation and productivity is low. People around you need to step carefully around the relationship when they are also just trying to get their job done.

As difficult as it may be to improve the relationship, it is worth setting a goal to improve it gradually. You can only assume they don’t enjoy how you work together and also want to improve. With that assumption, you can take three steps from Steven R Covey — Speed of Trust.

Talk Straight: I have been thinking about how we work together, and I would like us to work together on improving it.

Demonstrate Respect (and empathy): I understand you have a challenging role and that some of my views might not reflect that. Can you share some of your concerns with what we are working on?

Create Transparency: In the spirit of improvement, can we discuss which areas we can both agree to improve on. It will benefit our progress, and our careers and reduce the impact on the people we work with.

There is no denying it will require a fair amount of energy and will power to fix the broken relationship. So take a moment and think about which relationship will bring you the most benefit being repaired.

In summary, relationships tend to self-settle, and we rarely take a step back to assess them and their impact on our productivity and career. The first step is to block time and write a list of names of who you work with and label the relationship using one of the four above.

Then highlight three relationships you want to focus on over the next month. Your goal is to have more strong than weak relationships. And to have more unbreakable than broken relationships. Increasing your strong or unbreakable will create a powerful advocate network for your career. It will also make work a more enjoyable experience.

Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

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