The Care and Nurturing of Productive Relationships: Part 1

Most of us spend our lives as employees.  It doesn't matter if urge organization is big or small, we are generally have someone above us.  How we develop relationships with our boss, supervisor, or employee goes a long way to creating a successful relationship within the organization.

It is human nature to instill magical powers in our employees.  We develop expectations about their ability to know what's happening all of the time, to know what we need, when we need it, and much more. Often we can fall into the trap of seeing our employees as responsible for meeting our needs in the workplace. And, when our employees fail to meet any one of our expectations, then an us/them mentality starts to emerge.  What is the downside of an us/them mentality? One downside is that we stop being responsible for our own actions in developing and maintaining productive relationships.

What would happen if we could change the us/them mentality, reclaiming our work happiness?

Early in my career, I noticed that I developed the bad habit of casting my boss in the role of "bad employees." Every perceived slight, decision I didn't understand, or assignment I didn't like was just proof that my boss stunk. Well two things happened, first, my bosses didn't like me very much.  Second, I really wasn't that great of an employee.

Over time, came to want something different from my supervisor-employee relationships. I knew that it would be important to cultivate healthy relationships. I had found my calling in early childhood education and wanted to build a relationship of collaboration in my work.  I wanted people who worked with me to feel that I added to our partnership. Looking for ways to improve, I started taking classes, reading books, and online articles (this was all before the TED Talks). I learned that I was responsible for nurturing productive relationships with all my co-workers and my supervisors.

For the last 15-years or so, I have adopted a nurturing of productive relationships strategies. These are a series of actions that support clear communication, sorting out the urgent from the everyday, getting to know my supervisors needs, and most importantly, take self-responsibility for maintaining productive relationships.

Have my strategies always work? No. Sometimes your employees or the organizational culture is too dysfunctional.  However, the majority of the time---even in somewhat unhealthy settings---the care and nurturing of productive relationships, has worked. When I had a boss that I wasn't overly fond of, I was still able to maintain a productive relationship because we were still a team working towards the goals of our agency, together. In those times I was able to do my job, minimize tensions, and gracefully exit when the time came---knowing that I had maintained an ethical stance in my work.

The care and nurturing of productive relationships starts with self. It is a choice to work towards the best possible working relationship---taking both time and energy.  The gain, in the end, is an opportunity to feel happy or at least successful in our working relationships.

How will you care and nurture productive relationships today?