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The Value of Building Relationships for HR Professionals

Strong relationships are essential in order to accomplish goals. As HR Professionals it is necessary to engage all levels of employees in the organization in achieving the goals of the organization. While certainly this responsibility also falls on the direct managers of employees, HR is in a unique position because they are engaged with employees throughout the organization. Learning how to build relationships enables for engaging employees. We can only effectively engage those individuals with whom we have built strong relationships and with whom we have earned trust.

The stronger the connection with others within the organization, the more likely HR Pros are to…

  • …get their point across
  • …accomplish their own goals
  • …accomplish the goals of the organization
  • …help employees to accomplish goals
  • …drive the organization in a positive direction
  • …recruit and retain top talent

HR Pros who have built strong relationships throughout the organization can…

  • …cultivate and maintain strong informal and formal networks of employees
  • …actively build rapport with others at all levels
  • …enable for reduced conflicts between themselves and others, and help others manage through conflicts
  • …improve retention rates of the workforce
  • …collaborate and share information in an open and honest way, and encourage others to do so
  • …promote and encourage teamwork
  • …model respect for others within the organization
  • …more effectively engage others in the work of the organization

Consider this story,

When Abigail took the job as Director of HR at All Company Training, she knew that HR was having a difficult time working with the senior leadership team. As just one example, before she joined the organization, a previous large-scale change initiative went poorly because senior leadership refused to engage employees in the initiative prior to launching it. When one of the HR managers attempted to engage the senior leadership in a conversation around the importance of talking with employees before launching the change, he did not get too far. His focus was on the needs of the employees rather than the value to senior leadership. Therefore, senior leadership was uninterested. Abigail had been through these situations before. She knew that for HR to be successful, it was imperative to build relationships (which leads to trust) throughout the organization to accomplish goals. In this case, the goal of convincing senior leadership that it is necessary and valuable to engage employees in conversations around change to get their buy-in. If employees are engaged, then the change is much more likely to be embraced and to “stick” over the long term (a bottom line impact.) But you can’t engage employees and convince them of the value of the change unless you have already established relationships and built trust with them. And, Abigail couldn’t begin to convince senior leadership of the need to sell employees on change without building relationships with senior leadership first.

HR Pros touch all employees throughout the organization. Those HR Pros who have taken the time to develop relationships throughout the organization have a perspective of what’s working and what’s not; where things are going well and where change is needed. They become the “go to” person for employees who have concerns.

Take Time to Build Strong Relationships

It takes time to build, nurture, and maintain strong relationships throughout the organization. Here are just some ways to do so:

  • Attend department meetings and division meetings of other business units
  • Attend all company social events
  • Acknowledge, don’t ignore, the feelings of others. Sometimes people are upset and their feelings need to be acknowledged.
  • Be genuinely interested in others.
  • Get to know employees by spending time where they may be hanging out – coffee machine, water cooler, cafeteria
  • Maintain relationships with others by meeting for coffee, or going out to lunch or for drinks or dinner after work.
  • Know your communication style and learn how to adapt that style to accommodate others by communicating in ways that work for them.
  • Provide and receive feedback well. The ability to provide feedback to others in ways that enables for improvement with embarrassing them or making them feel inadequate is a skill. Ensure feedback you provide is constructive and actionable.
  • Build trust with others through open and regular communications, honest feedback and through sharing with others and letting them get to know you, and spending time getting to know them.

Don’t rush the process of building relationships! Invest time in building relationships, and you will find that those strong relationships and trust you have built enables for not just accomplishing the goals of the organization but also your own goals within human resources.

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