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How to build relationships for career success

By Fi Darby

Ask any business leader the secret of their success, and it won’t be long before they mention relationships. Without the skills to help you build effective working relationships, it’s impossible to make sustained progress in any career.

But what if forming relationships isn’t one of your strengths?

We share our top relationship building skills tips on how to build relationships at work with colleagues you've always admired.

Why is it so important to build relationships at work?

If the people of a business are the cogs that move it along, effective working relationships are the lubrication that keeps those cogs turning. Without positive relationships, organisations can grind to a halt, which is why employers place so much value on colleagues who are good at developing them. On one level, coworker relationships are just like any other relationship but their success or failure can have a really big influence on collaboration, morale and ultimately productivity.

In other words. Being able to build workplace relationships is really important for your career.

What are the benefits of building relationships at work?

creative people working together

Learning how to build relationships at work won’t just benefit the business you work for. When you can relate well to other people and have a healthy network of contacts, you’ll find yourself looking forward to work each day, no matter what challenges it brings. Here are a few reasons why.
  • You’ll enjoy your job more with a supportive network of colleagues around you.
  • Strong professional relationships will make your job easier to do.
  • Understanding other people’s job roles will help you choose your own career path.
  • Building relationships across and outside an organisation will expand your horizons.

How to build relationships at work

  1. Understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  2. Impress people with your energy and skills.
  3. Make communication your daily goal.
  4. Be a supportive friend.
  5. Make the most of feedback.
Building healthy relationships in the workplace can take time and effort as well as people skills. The types of interactions you have with your colleagues will deepen as you work with them longer and build up trust. 

However, if you want to boost your career, you can take action to speed this process up. With a positive attitude, a bit of focus and some key actions, you’ll start to develop a network of like-minded people. You’ll also see more exciting opportunities coming your way. 

Follow the five steps below for positive professional relationships that will enhance your career.

1. Understand your strengths and weaknesses.

When you started your current job role, you were already building your future career. In other words, you didn’t arrive empty-handed. Your previous work experiences, your natural abilities, even the influences of your family dynamics came with you. Understanding the skills and internal resources you already have will really help you develop your relationships with colleagues. Ask yourself the following questions.
  • Where do I want my career to go next?
  • Which soft skills do I need to develop?
  • Which type of people do I learn from best?
  • Which types of projects and activities challenge me?

2. Impress people with your energy and skills.

Although first impressions do count, when it comes to professional relationships it’s lasting impressions that really matter. Dressing appropriately and being polite are just the start. In all your business interactions, whether you’re communicating with colleagues, employees or clients, the following will help you build healthy relationships in the workplace.
  • Adjust your communication style to suit your audience.
  • Be prepared with ideas for activities that will provide solutions to problems.
  • Make sure you know how to use all relevant communication technology.
  • Keep ahead of the curve when it comes to new developments.

3. Make communication your daily goal.

colleagues speaking with one another

Just like any other life skill, communication improves with practice. Whether your natural instinct is to keep quiet, or you have a tendency to over-share, it can really help to have a daily communication goal. Planned ahead, these goals could be something really simple or they could be ultra-strategic but making a daily effort will improve both your confidence and your ability, especially if you make notes about successes or failures. The sky’s the limit here but we have some ideas for you below.
  • Introduce yourself by email to a colleague you haven’t met yet.
  • Arrange a meeting with a client to discuss a great idea.
  • Ask if you can observe and learn from a relevant meeting.
  • Suggest some great ideas for team building activities.

4. Be a supportive friend.

Great coworker relationships are an emotional as well as a professional asset. However, getting on with colleagues isn’t just about having fun together, or achieving goals. Providing support to colleagues will do more than develop your team. It will strengthen your relationships and demonstrate your dependability in times of difficulty, as well as when things are going well. If you’re not sure how to start with this one, we have some tips below.
  • Be on the lookout for colleagues who are struggling.
  • Don’t try to solve everyone’s problems but be a good listener.
  • Be generous with your time. Take on additional tasks if necessary.
  • Have a few fun work activities up your sleeve to help cheer people up.

5. Make the most of feedback.

We all love getting good feedback but when it comes to strong professional relationships, it is how you respond to constructive criticism that really matters. It can be difficult to accept that you didn’t get everything right. However, this really is a case of perception. By swapping your emotional response for an efficient, change-oriented one, you will develop stronger, more effective relationships with your management team. We have some pointers that will help.
  • See feedback as a growth opportunity instead of a criticism.
  • Focus on looking ahead to your next step instead of back to your last one.
  • Keep a record of constructive feedback points and your response to them.
  • Take action to try different approaches in the future.
If you want to develop great relationship building skills, don’t forget to look beyond your workplace. Upskilled has a range of online leadership and management courses that cover communication strategies, workplace relationships and teamwork. Get in touch with our education consultants today to find out more.
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*By providing your information, you agree to our Privacy Policy and to receiving email and other forms of communication from Upskilled. You are able to opt-out at any time.