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What's your star sign? An astrologically inclined friend recently told me that Libras like myself crave balance and dislike conflict. Her admittedly fair assessment got me thinking about the myriad of factors at play when I interact with colleagues. While most of us don't rely on the stars for guidance in building relationships—astrology is an art, not a science, even if it occasionally rings true—all HR professionals can become stars in the workplace by considering those job-related factors.
On any given day, an HR professional can interact with C-suite executives, employees, customers, suppliers, shareholders, local community members, representatives of the government and more. I have mentioned before that the work environment is full of differences among individuals; how you adapt your approach to building positive relationships adds another layer of variation.
How do these differences manifest themselves? You may have a tech supplier, for instance, who prefers to do all business with you over e-mail, while one of your external consultants is very hands-on. You may know an exceptional candidate who was passed over because he is shy and a shareholder perceived as haughty for caring only about an exceptional return on investment. The point is that the needs and the wants of these stakeholder groups and the individuals within them vary. Gaining their trust is a critical part of HR's role, and the best approach isn't one-size-fits-all.
A high degree of proficiency in Relationship Management can help HR professionals create a more productive work environment. In fact, SHRM's 2016 Employee Job Satisfaction and Engagement study confirmed that employees' relationships with co-workers contribute significantly to high engagement levels. Other studies show how the employee-supervisor relationship is important for greater team cohesion, performance and feelings of inclusion.
But back to becoming an HR star. Building stakeholder relationships is not as complicated as understanding black holes or the Big Bang Theory. Just place the Relationship Management competency at the center of your solar system, and with a little practice and a lot of patience, you'll shine.
Here are a few tips:
Lindsay Northon, M.A., is specialist for HR competencies at SHRM.
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