So much of work is accomplished through peer relationships.
By design, functional roles see different perspectives of the business. There is bound to be a healthy diversity of ideas and opinions.
If you aren’t careful, it’s easy be frustrated or even get sideways with peers. These stalled relationships can cause missed business opportunities. In fact, negative peer feedback can even hinder your own career advancement.
Be proactive in forging relationships with peers. Don’t expect for peers to automatically follow your direction as direct reports might. Instead of taking a hit or miss approach, create a clear plan for how you will develop collaboration and trust. Relationship development starts with your own consistent actions and engagement with others.
Worry less about what your colleague is doing and stay the course to create open, honest and candid work relationships.
Here are a few tips to help develop stronger relationships with your peers:
Get Connected on a Personal Level
It’s so much easier to do business with people you know. Go beyond the business meetings and get to know your peers on a personal basis. Get out of the office and engage with your colleagues even if it’s over a sandwich or a cup of coffee. Find out what personally matters to them. Maybe take in a round of golf or a boat cruise during the weekend. Spend more time listening and less time talking to understand your peer’s point of view.
Create Curious Conversations
Be curious and ask questions. As you hear different ideas and approaches, take care not to dismiss your peers’ ideas too quickly. As Stephen Covey would say, “First seek to understand before being understood.” Discuss ways in which you can mutually support each others efforts. People will take notice when they see you working to mutually solve issues that cut across the organization.
Provide Mutual Support
Volunteer to help your peers, and in turn ask for assistance from them. Maybe review a presentation or report to provide helpful feedback. Make an introduction to someone or support them on a business issue. Start working together on something to create positive experiences that you can build upon.
Demonstrate You Care About Creating a Mutually Trusting Relationship
Relationships are constructed on trust. Take the time to set expectations and how you will work together. Share information and work toward solutions that benefit the entire organization. If there are surprises, address them immediately and create a plan of action so they don’t occur again. Regularly ask colleagues for feedback, to learn how you can better contribute to the team.
As you work on your peer relationships, you and your peers will want to show a united front in supporting the business initiatives. When you aren’t united in your efforts, others pick up on this and may end up doing nothing until you and your peers resolve the differences.
Don’t expect to agree all the time. The key is to create an environment where you can have those crucial conversations with others to find the best solutions. This takes looking at the big picture and the broader implications across the entire business ecosystem and being open to new ideas and options.