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workplace relationships

6 Ways to Build Professional Relationships Across Organizational Hierarchy

As humans, we depend on mutual cooperation with other people to survive and thrive. And mutual cooperation is possible only when we have a good relationship with others. This highlights the importance of good relationships in both, our personal and professional life. People spend a notable amount of their time at the workplace. Thus, it is crucial to build professional relationships with fellow employees. A positive relationship with everyone along the hierarchical ladder benefits the individual and impacts the effectiveness of the whole organization. This could mean juniors, peers, peers from different departments, leaders, etc.

Why are professional relationships important?

A majority of hierarchical structures are based on the level of expertise and experience, so interacting with everyone and developing good relationships across hierarchies will allow you to understand the organization from the top to the bottom. This will give you a better understanding of the organization. It will also give you a chance to learn new things and gain new points of view about things which you would otherwise be oblivious to. This can also facilitate the exchange of an extensive amount of knowledge and experience. The workflow of any organization will improve when people across hierarchies have good relationships.

Read: How to Get Your Organization Ready for Industry 4.0?

It can also encourage collaboration, which is vital when working in teams. It will give you a chance to have people who can be sought out for any help or guidance and you can also help them in return. This imparts a sense of professional belonging and kinship. Good relationships across hierarchies can help one develop empathy and know how to walk in someone else’s shoes. This makes one a better leader, employee, and better human overall.

In short, having good relationships across hierarchies in an organization is pivotal, and it isn’t easy to develop when there are numerous people, each with their own background, culture, and comfort zones.

6 ways to approach and build professional relationships across organizational hierarchies

1. Effective communication

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, be it personal or professional. So it is obvious that a good relationship across organizational hierarchies always begins with effective communication with people across different spectrums in an organization. Communication does not mean just talking, it also involves being receptive to what others are saying and understanding them. Communication should be transparent so that no one feels left out in the process, thereby strengthening the relationship with other employees. Being receptive to others even if they are lower on the corporate ladder is necessary. Interesting ideas can come from them when they are heard. This helps to develop relationships beyond the organizational hierarchies.

Approaching other employees from different steps in the hierarchical ladder can begin with a simple greeting every day. This can be accompanied by some talk, not always related to work, to know them better. This will definitely build the groundwork for a good relationship.

2. Treating others with respect

“Respect given is respect earned”, this quote captures the importance of treating others with respect. Treating others with respect is an integral part of being able to build professional relationships with others, especially in a workplace where there is a lot of competition among people in different hierarchies. Someone lower on the corporate ladder needs to be treated with as much respect as the one who is at the top of the hierarchy. This creates a feeling of mutual respect among everyone. Mutual respect allows one to understand that they are valued for their work, achievements, abilities, and qualities. If coworkers are treated with respect, a fair environment is created in the workplace across hierarchies. Despite all the competition, a workplace with mutual respect eliminates any chance of foul play or harassment among employees. This reduces the stress in the workplace, which boosts the overall productivity of the workforce. Mutually respectful employees across hierarchies create a positive work environment, which leads to increased workforce engagement within the organization. This also induces a feeling of job satisfaction for an individual.

3. Developing emotional intelligence

The Oxford Dictionary defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to understand your emotions and those of other people, and to behave appropriately in different situations.” Emotional intelligence is very important to maintain healthy relationships at the workplace, where there is a chance of being emotionally overwhelmed due to the pressure of work. At times like these, it is essential to maintain composure and effectively manage the emotional overflow. This is where emotional intelligence makes a difference. Often when overwhelmed by emotions, individuals do or say things that they later regret, which strains their relationships with others. Emotional intelligence can also help you handle emotions, understand them, and effectively manage these emotions. Often in workplaces where there is an organizational hierarchy, the ones at the bottom of the corporate ladder have to face the wrath of their seniors in case anything goes wrong. This disrupts the entire workflow and puts strain on interpersonal relationships. Emotionally intelligent people can handle such situations with better decisions and can maintain good relationships across hierarchies.


4. Practicing empathy

Empathy is simply the ability to perceive and understand the thoughts, feelings and experience of others. To put yourself in someone else’s shoes and understand things from their perspective. Empathy is a crucial skill to have in order to build professional relationships across hierarchies at the workplace. Empathy automatically instills a sense of respect for everyone at the workplace. This way you can always look out for colleagues, and provide them with support in any way required, which enhances relationships. Empathy increases the productivity of the organization, as there is an understanding between colleagues. Differences of opinions within teams and across hierarchies are solved easily due to the understanding between everyone. Empathy will also allow you to provide emotional support for others, and this support might extend beyond the workplace.

5. Being helpful and available

Being helpful and available has far-reaching consequences in any professional relationship. Being ready to accept responsibilities and trying to help the ones who are overworked are important in building relationships across hierarchies in the workplace. Looking out for people can give them a sense of importance and acceptability, which lays down the foundation of relationships. Emotional availability can be very impactful on others. Simply listening to them and lending a helping hand when they need it can be decisive in their workplace experience.

6. Working on relationships every day

Effective relationships are not built in a day, especially when they are across organizational hierarchies. You need to work on them every single day. Talk with others, ask them about their work, and show genuine interest to build strong and effective professional relationships. Social media can be effectively used to build professional relationships by following people in different steps on the corporate ladder, paying them genuine compliments there and getting to know their interests. This will ease the process of interaction with them in person. A common ground for interaction can be easily sought through social media, where people share about their likes and dislikes and a lot can be discovered about them. This makes the process of interconnection surprisingly easy. Different people can be approached in variable ways, depending upon their likes and dislikes. This can make them feel significant and strengthen relationships.

Following these six steps will surely make the integration with people across hierarchies a fairly smooth ride. A lot of effort is required to build a relationship and even more to maintain them for a long time, but it’s all worth the effort.

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