Effectively managing relationships in the workplace is a skill I wish to strengthen as I journey through my career path especially while trying to climb the career ladder; shooting for various leadership roles (which is always a goal of mine).
Both my personal and professional relationships have distinct differences for several reasons revolving around my zone of comfort. As I analyze the relationships that I have created both personally and professionally, I’ve concluded that the personal relationships are more comfortable to maintain as opposed to the relationships I’ve established among colleagues.
Most of my personal relationships and interactions occur by choice as I pick my friends according to our similarities, enjoyment, and companionship. Being selective makes managing these relationships easy. I often surround myself with people that I feel comfortable and safe around; at work, I do not have the option to be as selective.
Transitioning from a social setting (mainly school) into a professional environment (working field) was tough. I initially had to learn the aspects of professionalism in the workplace, as well as collaborating effectively with diverse groups of people.
Working alongside a completely diverse group was a challenge for me when I first started working (back in 2010) being the only young, African-American, female within the biomedical research community. I’ve had a lot of positive and negative experiences with being employed at a younger age than my counterparts; working toward, obtaining, and maintaining a leadership position is tough. It can be competitive, and I’ve lost some people who at one time I called “friends.”
Forming personal relationships came naturally from socializing. I think this is because I am genuinely a very friendly person, but I learned how dangerous it could be to blend business with personal relationships. This really only became an issue when I wanted to enter into a leadership position. This created a barrier during times of conflict…I had trouble separating the business from personal feelings; eventually, I learned how NOT to mix business with pleasure (and please avoid it if you can just DON’T DO IT!!!!!).
I had to acquire additional professional skills over the years: I learned professionalism, grew thicker skin, learned the benefits of being independent as well as working with a team, developed better communication, learned independent problem solving, and time management skills, and also learned how to maintain/manage working relationships better.
Some additional lessons I’ve learned and skills I’ve acquired over time include: continuous lessons in communication (I cant stress this enough); communication is essentially how we develop self-concept, and it is also a factor in how we are perceived.
Most relationships are determined how well you communicate literally through confidence, effective speech (but also your thoughts, feels, and how well you can educate others).
A person in a strong leadership position should possess certain characteristics of a good leader, and this includes the ability to communicate. Good communication and listening skills contribute to creating great relationships.
Through communication, we project our character to ourselves and other people. Communication can make or break anyone in a leadership position. A manager or supervisor exhibiting poor communication with their staff will pay the cost of having that reflected in production or lack thereof. I rely heavily on email as a primary source of communication; this often presents an issue as I am often faced with miscommunication sometimes due to language barriers. At work, I am expected to communicate effectively and interact with diverse groups of individuals as part of a leadership team within a research community; my working environment is the most diverse in race, culture, age, and gender.
I am continuously working toward achieving my goals for success, in the hopes of advancing in my career. This means showing an interest in improving work habits, acquiring additional educating, working on professional development and keeping a positive attitude.
Independently, I sought ways to continue my education through courses on effectively communicating across cultures, testing different strategies such as continuing education has helped with effectively managing relationships professionally.
As I think about the various challenges I’ve overcome in my current leadership position, I realize there is still work to do.
Moving forward, I will continue to educate myself on how to effectively manage relationships in the workplace and during interactions with people outside of the workplace.