Building Relationships

  • Builds both formal and informal professional relationships
  • Maintains and fosters relationships within, across, and external to organizational boundaries
  • Obtains and shares information, ideas, and problems
  • Solicits advice, support, championship, sponsorship, and commitment that result in smooth transitions of change and the development of mutually acceptable solutions
Proficiency Levels – What it looks like
Being Developed
Establishes a broad base of relationships Establishes and maintains relationships with peers and contacts with access to information and to key business partners Establishes and maintains relationships and alliances Sets objectives necessary for obtaining feedback and assistance Maintains and forms alliances with recognized leading experts and authoritative decision makers
Solicits guidance in how to get things done and with whose help Shares information and advice on how to get things done and who to involve Shares information and readily determines to whom to go for relevant information Maintains effective communication Partners with wide circle of contacts and involves them in generating mutually beneficial long-term opportunities and achieving win-win outcomes
Seeks assistance and feedback in the problem solving process Shares ideas, issues, and opportunities with members of personal network Represents the organization on strategic issues impacting multiple organizations, the community, and the professional field
Partners with others to achieve expectations Seeks referrals from others with relevant expertise and influence
Attends and maintains relationships with relevant formal and informal professional groups and organizations

What it Doesn’t Look Like

  • Missing opportunities to collaborate on key issues of mutual benefit
  • Viewing situations only from ones perspective
  • Seeking and developing positive working relationships with some required groups but not all
  • Holding a short term view to relationships
  • Overlooking or not anticipating the impact of actions and decisions on others
  • Advocating only for ones self and not for the needs of others

Questions to Consider

  • How long does it take to typically develop a relationship? How could this process be fast-tracked while maintaining quality and authenticity?
  • What other strategic relationships do I need to establish?
  • How can I demonstrate better collaboration, commitment, communication, flexibility, and respect in my professional relationships?
  • How do I display to others I understand their perspective or concern?
  • What motives or constraints may be getting in the way of this or other relationships?
  • How are mutual objectives being considered and met?
  • Learning and Development Activities

    Choose one or two activities that support your preferred learning style, or styles

    Select activities by learning style
    Doing Listening Observing Training Reading

    (By clicking on the symbol, those activities relating to the learning style will appear)


    Suggestions for activities you can do on the job

    • Evaluate your current working relationships. Which are most effective and why? Which are least effective and why? What characteristics of your most effective relationships can you apply to improve your other relationships?
    • Identify a relationship you need to establish or further develop. Plan a conversation that allows both parties to fully understand each other’s objectives and motives.

    With Peers

    • Focus on building trust by creating an environment of mutual support and accountability. This may result from identifying a shared vision, goal, values and interests, or from collaborating to determine a course of action.
    • Accepting that building and maintaining relationships is a learning process; address any opportunities or challenges in your working relationships as they surface. Take the first step by seeking understanding of the other’s point-of-view.

    With your Manager/Team Lead

    • Identify and analyze strategic relationships to be established or enhanced. Discuss approaches to take and key people to connect with.
    Listening and Observing

    Here are some ideas that can be pursued on the job, with some coordination. Use these reflective questions to gain more from your learning experience:

      • What are three key things I have learned from this experience?
      • What will I do differently in my work as a result of this experience?
    • Identify someone who you consider good at building relationships. Ask if you can accompany them to a formal or informal meeting/event so you can observe their approach to building and maintaining relationships. Discuss with them what you observed to be particularly effective and ask what techniques they find bring success.
    • Job shadow someone in a partnering relationship as they complete their responsibilities that relate to your relationship. Through observation and dialogue, gain a deeper understanding of their motives and objectives and how you can support them through a productive working relationship.
    Training Programs

    UBC Training Programs offered through Organization Development and Learning

    • Appreciative Inquiry: A Way to Generate and Nurture Effective Work Environments
    • Communication with Compassion: Words that Work
    • Delivering Customer Service Excellence Level 1

    For UBCO course offerings, please visit the Events page.
    Consider working with a coach following training, to aid in anchoring your learning:


    Choose to read one or two of the books listed below. Consider the reflective questions to enhance your learning:

      • What are the key points the author is making?
      • What are three key things I have learned from this reading?
      • What will I do differently in my work as a result of gaining this knowledge?
    • Staff

    • Building Effective One-on-One Work Relationships; (1996) L. A. Hill, Harvard Business Review. Addresses how to build effective one-on-one work relationships. Spells out the importance of analyzing your network and understanding on whom you are dependent. Also provides some criteria for assessing the quality of your relationships. Finally, it discusses how to manage conflict.
    • People Styles at Work… And Beyond: Making Bad Relationships Good and Good Relationships Better; (2009), R. Bolton & D. Grover Bolton; Ridge Associates, Inc. Provides insight and understanding into ones own behaviour style, how to make the most of our gifts, and recognizing behaviours that hold us back. Teaches how to identify someone else’s behaviour style, and the keys to establishing a good relationship.
    • Working Relationships: Using Emotional Intelligence to Enhance Your Effectiveness with Others, Revised Edition; (2008), B. Wall; CPP Inc. This book focuses on the power of emotional intelligence (EQ) to influence success regardless of job type, level of education, or scope of responsibility. It offers a classic toolkit for mastering the personal characteristics and social abilities of EQ.
    • Managers/Team Leads

    • Appreciative Leadership: Focus on What Works to Drive Winning Performance and Build a Thriving Organization; (2010), D. Whitney, A. Trosten-Bloom, & K. Rader; McGraw-Hill. Leadership is moving from authoritarian to collaborative practices, from fear- based to strengths-based relationships, and from talking at people to dialoguing with them. This book provides clear concepts and practical tools that turn potential into positive power for extraordinary performance.
    • Becoming a Resonant Leader: Develop Your Emotional Intelligence, Renew Your Relationships, Sustain Your Effectiveness; (2008), A. McKee, R. Boyatzis, & F. Johnston; Harvard Business School Publishing. Exceptional leaders capture passion, they lead from the heart, smart and focused on the future, and with a commitment to being their very best. Through resonance, leaders become attuned to the needs and dreams of people they lead. They create conditions where people can excel.

    Additional Questions

    Please contact your Human Resources Representative with any additional questions.

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