How to build a great working relationship

Monday 24 June 2019
Upskill yourself to create positive and productive relationships at work
Group of people in a meeting, laughing

Essential learnings:

  • Assess your place and theirs
  • Listen and understand them
  • Find common ground

Organisations rely on teams because they boost morale, performance and completion of projects. Competent managers should be able to build internal and external networks; motivate stakeholders; support group working and commit to diversity and inclusion.

How does this work in practice? “Having effective relationships at work helps both the spread of knowledge and the ability to share information and ask for help,” explains David McLaughlin CMgr – EPA training and development manager. “Being able to gain advice from a colleague or mentor is a great way to develop and become more productive as a result. It’s that old lesson about ‘working smarter not harder’. Working with others makes that a possibility.”


To build a great working relationship, David recommends starting by recognising your role within an organisation. “You need to understand why a relationship exists,” he says. “Is it built around a joint aim – for example, to increase sales or improve performance?” As part of this, consider any differences in seniority between you and your colleagues: your communication style might need to change for different audiences. Managers must be able to influence others up and down the organisational hierarchy.


The most important skill in building a relationship is listening. To influence others, you must understand them and be able to manage challenging situations where there might be conflict. “Trying to see where another person is coming from and trying to find joint ground will help,” says David. To do this he recommends practice. “Practice listening skills with friends and family outside of work. Practice empathy and being interested in other people.”

In a work situation, “regular meetings should include listening as well as telling. Listen to what your team tells you and if an idea won’t work, tell them why. Ask for and listen to feedback in a way that’s meaningful for both you and them.”


Finally, a professional code of conduct underpins all aspects of personal effectiveness. “Set standards and demonstrate them yourself,” says David. “This makes it easy for others to follow you and helps in building and maintaining effective teams.”

The CMI can help you commit to continuing professional development (CPD) and access your CPD log in Management Direct.

If you’re a CMI member you can access support to build those all important relationships at work by logging onto CMI’s Career Development Centre

Not yet a member? Access thousands of resources by joining now

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