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Managing Relationships With Your Peers at Work
Invest in peer relationships to build your credibility and get actionable feedback
In one of my previous articles, I had written about the importance of managing relationships with your manager and how it is one of the best investments you can make at work. It is equally important to manage relationships with your peers.
Workplaces are built around the relationships we have with our peers. In fact, our relationships with our peers can be a source of positivity, learning, support and energy. We need each others support and we also need to support each other. On the flip side, if these relationships aren’t managed positively, then they can also be a cause for frustration and stagnation.
So let's dive into the Why and How of managing our relationships with our peers!
Should you really care about your relationship with your peers?
Why? To be honest, one can’t list enough reasons to maintain healthy relationships with your peers. Here are some of my top reasons of why you should care for it:
I would find it hard to believe that a head of product can succeed without support from the head of technology or vice versa. This is just one example of it. We all have cross-functional dependencies. Sales depends on marketing, marketing depends on data, data depends on tech, tech depends on hr, hr depends on finance, finance depends on ops, so on and so forth!
This makes it imperative for us to work in close collaboration with each other to succeed at our jobs.
Peer Feedback is Important
As you move up the ladder, your credibility is built, not only with the feedback your manager has for you, but also by the feedback your peers have for you. Also, remember your peers can give you feedback that is candid and direct. Such feedback has really helped me to course correct at the right time.
At my current role in Tala, where I joined four months ago, I have continuously asked for feedback from my peers. I have gotten invaluable nuggets which have helped me not only learn the culture of the company quickly, but also onboard faster to become more effective at my work.
Feeling of a Support Group
You can also count on your peers to support you when you are feeling vulnerable. It sure gets lonelier as you move up the corporate ladder. Having peers you can trust and be vulnerable with, can really help improve yourself as a leader.
What can you do to build your relationships with your peers?
Here are some ways in which I try to build a relationship with my peers.
Be clear about your personal agendas in the company. When you decide to stay away from hidden agendas and communicate openly with your peers about your objectives in the company, they will more often than not find ways to collaborate with you and support you. This also builds trust among your peers and eliminates politics.
Be intentional to meet with your peers regularly. This has become even more important in the current scenario, where most of us are working remotely. Attend these meetings with the intention of building personal connections. One way of doing it could be to find common areas of interest—at work and outside of it. You can also use these meetings to ask for candid feedback from your peers.
Offer to help your peers. You must focus on the ways in which you can help your peers. Try to ask questions about the key areas of focus for them and identify ways in which you can help them to achieve their goals.
Be assertive and not aggressive while managing conflicts or asking for something from your peers. This helps you build an honest and respectful relationship with them and credibility for yourself.
Foster healthy relationships for the next level of leaders. Once you have built a credible relationship with your peer, you must try to create the same level of credibility among the next set of leaders on your respective teams. Connect both of your team members and find ways in which they can collaborate together. The stronger relationships your team members form cross-functionally, the easier it gets for you to build cross-functional peer relationships. That is because now your team leaders can manage their own conflicts versus you having to solve them with your peers.
These are some ways in which you can build strong relationships at work. These are not just relevant for leaders, but for anyone who wants to build stronger peer relationships, irrespective of their seniority. An organization can be set up well to scale, when people work well with each other and healthy relationships with peers is a big part of that.
What steps do you follow to build relationships with your peers?