Successful work relationships are the keystones for the company’s bottom line efficiency and personal fulfillment in your career. Work relationships can strengthen your promotion ability, subsequently amplifying your salary, achieving projects on time; and even, have an impact on your individual health state. Our working lives occupy one-half to, in some industries, three quarters of our lives. We all hope that our work relationships can be a close collaborative association with mutual benefits for all involved. It’s not uncommon that workplace relationships have to be redefined for the renewal of individual commitments, rules of engagement; and social contract interaction. Why does this happen?

A factor can be corporate mergers. These fusions are not always as smooth as the management would like. Time and again, merging companies endure a severe employee exodus due to the mis-understanding of why the merger is taking place, core values clashes, veteran employees not feeling appreciated for past productivity, or the mix of cultural multiplicity. Another large scale facet is downsizing. With this type of sweeping change, the consequences can be hostile relations between the surviving work force; increased staff turnover; decreased solidarity between the newly formed teams; and increased finger pointing-otherwise known as the ‘blame game’. Another cause can be individual promotions. Someone who used to be part of a dynamic team can be elevated to a leadership role. This individual now has many in a direct reporting hierarchy, strict budgets to comply with, even the possibility of hiring freezes in place. Those they used to work with as peers are now uncomfortable in how to participate with and communicate beyond the new rank. This opens the challenges of redefining the work relationship. And last, there are always personal experiences that can change an individual’s world view such as, selling a long loved home, children leaving for college, or a chronic illness.

It’s a natural occurrence that when any of these situations exist, relationships may need a restructuring of how we engage and converse with each other. So how do you start those remodeling conversations that still sustain free and open communication? Think about these basics prior to scheduling your discussion:

  • Be mindful of how reality is now. Recognize the energies you are investing into resentment, anger, or resignation over the current circumstances. If you can redirect the same level of energy into acceptance of actualities now, you can transform how you will respond to the next dialogues between you and the other persons in the conversation. Do not forget to include how much you ‘care’ about the next chapters of the future you are collectively forging.
  • Confirm new boundaries if personal experiences have promoted internal change for you. You could open with, “Since I have survived cancer, the car accident, or any traumatic experience, I want to explain what has changed for me in our engagement together”. You don’t have to justify yourself or tell all the details, just those that have influenced your view of the world from now on.
  • Validate others with their significance. Your conversation could start with, “With the successes we have celebrated together, or since you have helped me achieve that product launch, this has changed how I would like our future collaboration to be.” Whatever you express, it will be something to bear out their importance, talent, or skill in the accomplishment in benefits for the whole. In the end, you will be defining what greatness will be for you and them.
Redefining Work Relationships