Building good relationships within organizations

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NO man is an island, according to 17th century English author John Donne. We develop relationships because, as social beings, we naturally interact and bond with others. This phenomenon has facilitated the survival of our species, which is primarily the reason we thrive. This community bond is what we often call friendship.

Friendships can be described as relationships between acquaintances that can lead to closer bonds that allow people to feel comfortable without fear of judgment. By building and strengthening this type of relationship, we also enrich mutual respect, esteem and reciprocity. Aristotle’s Philosophy of Friendships also says that “Friendship is only possible between good people of similar virtue, because only good people can love another person for that person’s sake”.

We also build this type of relationship in the workplace. Friendships at work, whether voluntary or involuntary, allow us to communicate, interact and bond. It is quite common and necessary in our professional lives. Occasionally, we interact with people at work because we are trying to achieve specific work goals. We have to work with people to achieve our goals, which leads to friendships in the workplace.

The Mayo Clinic states that friendships are key to improving overall health. Good friends promote good health by improving happiness and coping mechanisms, and increasing self-esteem. At work, friendships allow us to create social bonds where we feel a sense of belonging. Shared experiences between colleagues lead to relatedness, where group members bond over challenges, frustrations and fulfillment. In addition, friendships in the workplace help to understand the responsibilities and tasks of each member. When working with friends, achieving team goals in certain situations is more manageable.

However, this seemingly beneficial relationship can also present challenges. Jealousy, gossip, and competitiveness are just a few factors that divert the benefits of friendship at work into something harmful. Often this behavior leads to a breakdown in team dynamics and fosters an environment of negativity and mistrust. A dark cloud hangs over the team, creating factions within the group that hinder productivity.

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It often happens that a group of strangers are simultaneously accepted into a company. They go through the indoctrination process together, go through the same training, and attend events for new hires. Through these shared experiences, friendships are born and cultivated. They eventually start working at the same level with similar tasks and continue to nurture their relationship.

At some point, a member or a few members of the group show potential and are quickly promoted. As a result, the promoted now manage their friends. This situation leads to unintended consequences that lead to problems related to group dynamics. Changing the relationship from a peer to a superior sometimes erodes the initial good faith built when the group started working for the organization. Typically there is an initial feeling of discomfort where negative factors like resentment, mistrust and discontent can seep in.

In this case, it may be necessary to step in and help draw the line between professional and personal relationships in the workplace. We need to explore ways to foster professional friendships while cultivating relationships, emotional well-being, and overall group performance. There needs to be an awareness of the challenges of seemingly innocuous issues that alter the relationship dynamics within the business. By doing so, we can maintain the benefits and negate or even avoid the adverse effects of these scenarios on a group.

Retchell Leongson-Morales is a part-time faculty member of the Ramon V. Del Rosario College of Business at De La Salle University and the College of Business at Enderun Colleges. She can be contacted at [email protected]


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