The Importance and Benefits of Building Relationships with Colleagues
Originally published on September 15, 2020
Building relationships with colleagues is key when it comes to successful fleet procurement. It's very easy for each working day to fly past us, focusing on our tasks at hand, yet have you ever stopped and thought about how well you know your colleagues? A good working relationship with colleagues not only results in a good work-life balance but also can improve yours and your colleagues' mood whilst at work, amongst other things. We take a look at the importance and main benefits of having good working relationships with your colleagues, including how successful management of relationships internally and externally can make your job much easier day-to-day.
The advantages and importance of peer relationships
Be prepared for open two-way communication with your colleagues, regardless of if you've worked together days, months or years. Stopping what you are doing for a moment and having a meaningful conversation where you listen, engage and respond is the starting point for building relationships with colleagues.
Ensuring that your colleagues feel understood and listened to is a simple step to lift their wellbeing as they will feel more at ease to speak out about any problems. As we all know from experience, the quicker any hiccups or mistakes can get aired and resolved – the better!
Open and personal rapport
Taking the first proactive step to develop a good working relationship with colleagues is to take a genuine interest in them. You are both individuals with your own personalities and interests. Some of these interests may be shared, so why not start the conversation to find out more?
Building this trust, even by asking how their day is, will help in ensuring that you both have a more transparent and stronger rapport. Small steps, little and often to show interest in your colleagues will also result in a more open and comfortable conversation about work and operations going forward.
Not everyone will want to discuss work if they are having a moments break, so why not ask a more personal question? Having a personal interest in a colleagues life outside of their daily work tasks can create that conversation.
Due to the nature of your role in the company, you may feel building relationships with colleagues is too time-consuming. The best way to build relationships efficiently is by allocating time out your schedule where your colleagues know you are available for them to come and have a chat with you; whether they are from your department or others. As your colleagues may comprise of fleet managers, fleet administrators, drivers and more, it is most likely that you are not all together at once to cement that relationship. By proactively setting aside time for honest conversations, this will not only make your colleagues feel valued and appreciated but will also increase their trust in you as they feel actively listened to.
One way to ensure your department feels appreciated is through team-building activities, such as an escape room or an outdoor activity day. Why not come up with a list of possible activities and ask your team which they would like to do? This way they'll feel more involved in the decision and the activity will be more enjoyable for everyone.
As a member of senior management or the head of the department, it is vital to establish respect in a working relationship so that each party can feel valued and heard within the workplace.
For instance, during the allocated scheduled time for open conversation as recommended, a fleet administrator may state that they feel too much of their time is being taken up with chasing or processing receipts from the drivers. By listening to the fleet administrator and realising that this needs to change, you could try and look for a solution. In this scenario an option could be for the fleet to start using fuel cards, these will ensure an efficient invoicing process for the fleet administrator and are easy for the drivers to use; keeping both colleagues in mind.
By overcoming this challenge, it not only reduces the time spent on administration, but it will also show to your colleagues that you respect and take into consideration how they are feeling.
Breaking the hierarchy anxiety
As the head of a department, try and put yourself in your fleet drivers' shoes. Your organisation may have a hierarchy which some may feel restricts their opportunity for building relationships with colleagues; this anxiety can be overcome during team building sessions. Remember, whilst at work, you are all actively contributing to your organisation's mission and values where ever you may fit on the hierarchy.
Workplace conflict is reported by one in four workers according to the CIPD, which can be caused by shouting or heated arguments. To reduce the chance of conflict, it's important to ensure you consider your tone of voice when interacting with your colleagues to ensure that there is a level conversation.
By speaking to colleagues from a variety of different roles and various levels of seniority, it'll give you a much more effective insight into how operations are running and may give you ideas on how it can be improved via the procurement department. Additionally, having a good working relationship with your drivers will assist in employee retention due to the trust and respect built through your working relationship. This increased in trust is likely to create a better platform in order to promote a better and more proactive safety culture throughout your fleet.
Consideration of boundaries
With the pandemic, your colleagues may prefer a virtual conversation to build that working relationship, and that's perfectly fine! A LinkedIn message can still be personal and professional. You may be able to find out a few of their interests before starting the virtual conversation from recent posts that they have engaged with or written themselves. This also applies when creating a relationship with suppliers. Be cautious not to overstep any boundaries, only connect with their social media accounts if you feel this will be a comfortable and welcomed interaction.
We hope you now have a more thorough understanding of the importance of peer relationships and the benefits it can bring in terms of successful fleet procurement. If you'd like to put these benefits into action and start by developing relationships with the employees in your own department, please check out our article on effective employee management solutions, to help you on your way to developing your employee management skills.