Getting the best from workplace relationships is one of the most significant goals for managers.
The truth is, there must be outcomes for both sides that work effectively – and they come in different shapes and sizes.
For workplace relationships to be effective, there has to be a benefit that both sides achieve, or the interaction is always going to be an uphill challenge, with neither side ultimately fully satisfied.
Indeed there is no overall value when one side deems themselves to be the ‘winner’ and the other side goes away empty handed.
In the one-to-one relationships we have with every one of our people, it’s vital to ensure that you as manager achieve the business outcomes you need to deliver.
On the other hand, the individual on the other side of the desk, must go some way to having their needs met too. Often these are needs which are even more valuable than simply their salary check at the end of the month.
In truth, they need more again to be fully motivated and ‘turned on’ to the relationship that you have between you.
The Win-Win Scenario can sound a bit like a trade-off for a manager. One where there might be a hint of ‘giving it away’.
To balance this view a little, let’s have a look at five situations where a manager might feel like they are losing out by giving their employee more than they might wish – and then see the positives that can accrue from that.
1. ‘I need some time’ – by offering some time to sit with, listen and support/coach your employee, you are building the relationship, developing trust and encouraging them to take ownership of their own evolution in their job.
This does NOT mean you are responsible for their ‘next steps’ – you are careful to pass those back to them – you DO have a role in facilitating their choices.
2. ‘I need your help’ – could precipitate a groan or two. Yet this is a perfect opportunity to show that you aren’t a softie, just prepared to suffer with them.
Asking for help is just that, requiring a gentle nudge along the way to get them moving.
This is great for clarifying your role as a support for their chosen actions, as well as providing the opportunity for them to self-enable.
3. ‘I need you to understand’ – sounds like trouble? Maybe. In fact when you are approached to understand your people better, this is a great moment to savor.
It shows that you are approachable and it shows a willingness on the part of your colleague to build a better bridge in the relationship between you.
Of course, it is vital that you pay full attention and take on board what is said, willingly seeking to understand what they want to get across.
4. ‘Please listen to me’ – means that they need you to appreciate them. It is about them sharing with you that they feel unheard, so it’s a warning sign.
The important thing here is that they are prepared to ask, so the relationship is not at rock bottom. There is a willingness to partner with you – and that’s a positive sign for the future.
5. ‘I’m bored with working here’ – isn’t that great! If and when you ever hear this, it can be music to your ears, because it shows that there is a desire NOT to be bored.
When you are approached in this way, your ‘win’ is that you have potential there that is not being fulfilled, so there are options.
This is not a Lose/Win at all, because once you switch them on, their value will soar, providing significantly better performance for you and your progress towards your goals too.
Rarely, where there is a relationship to unfold, will there be Win/Lose or Lose/Win experiences for managers who are prepared to grasp the opportunities that jump out at them.
The key is to ensure that you are open to the possibilities that make each and every interaction a ‘Win-Win’, because it is available to you, if you want to make the effort to take it.