Developing Your Career


Three Ways You Can Build Stronger Work Relationships

By Lee Hecht Harrison on April 30, 2015

While there’s certainly no great love for email these days, it’s still an important part of how we communicate and get things done in the workplace. If there is a breakdown in the process and coworkers fail to respond to email, work flow can grind to a halt and it becomes difficult to accomplish objectives. Interpersonal relationships and productivity suffer as coworkers feel disrespected when their emails disappear into a black hole with nary a response. Frustrations mount as colleagues can’t get the information or support they need to do their jobs.

Is the non-responsiveness colleague an outlier in the organization, or is it the norm and symptomatic of a larger problem—a corporate culture that doesn’t recognize internal customer services as critical? To keep the moving parts of an organization working at optimum efficiency, employees need to be responsive to coworkers’ requests. How we serve each other is often an indicator of how we serve our external customers.

Here are some immediate actions you can take to ensure you’re responsive—and providing the best service possible to your fellow coworkers and creating the foundation for strong and mutually beneficial relationships.

  1. Read and respond to email. Email shouldn’t be considered optional. Employees have a responsibility to stay informed and provide a response when one is required. If you can’t respond to a request within the same day, take a minute to acknowledge receipt of the message and provide your coworker with a timeframe for fulfilling the request.
  2. Demonstrate a willingness to help. For times when you don’t have the answer to a coworker’s question or can’t provide the information needed, offer an alternate contact or ask for more information.
  3. Use email auto-reply. If you’re going to be out of the office, indicate who’s covering in your absence or provide an alternate phone number for emergencies. Some roles require a higher degree of responsiveness than others, but a back-up plan should always be in place.

Making coworkers feel as if a simple request is a major imposition—or not responding at all—simply makes everything a little bit harder. And with today’s workforce more reliant on technology, effective collaboration via email and other communication platforms is critical. Delivering top-notch internal customer service keeps the company’s gears moving—and solidifies your reputation as a team player.

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