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Building & Maintaining Positive Workplace Relationships

This is a topic which is very popular with both my business and education sector clients looking for ways to help their people work together more effectively.

As the old saying goes, “You can’t choose your family!” and many might agree that the same can be said for workmates.  However, you can choose your place of work and you can certainly choose how to communicate and work with the diverse personalities in your business.

It’s for this reason that the DiSC behavioural profiling tool is so beneficial and underpins all programmes and workshops I run.

Your DiSC profile will indicate how you perceive and act in a favourable environment (as well as an unfavourable one) ie. your behaviour.  As a leader, your behaviours also determine how you:

  • Lead and manage staff.
  • Build and maintain trust, respect and credibility.
  • Motivate and inspire staff.
  • Consult and make decisions.
  • Build and maintain relationships.
  • Address issues/concerns and resolve conflict.
  • Coach and mentor your staff to success.

There are five key relationship areas which are needed to successfully form a collaborative and cohesive team…


This is all about building and maintaining relational trust, respect and credibility. Without trust there is less innovation, collaboration, creative thinking, and productivity. People will spend their time protecting themselves and their interests which is time that should be spent helping and supporting the team to achieve the common vision or strategic plan.

However, building trust isn’t easy. You have to know what it means to individuals and teams, and what this looks like in practice.

Some of the common signposts that trust is evident within the team include:

  • Talk honestly about what works, and what doesn’t work.
  • Challenge each other in a healthy and productive manner.
  • View change as an opportunity, not a threat.
  • People readily ask for help if they need it.



Another important relationship area is the ability resolve conflict.  Some unhealthy behaviours which indicate conflict include:

  • Gloss over or avoid problems – no-one speaks up about their own needs.
  • People can become overly dramatic and say things they may regret.
  • Overpower and aggressiveness or passive-aggressiveness.
  • Retreat from conflict.


When team members are able to voice their opinions even at the risk of causing disagreement, this is a clear signpost of the team mastering conflict. Team members may ask one another’s opinions during meetings and, when conflict occurs, they are able to confront and deal with the issue before moving onto another topic.


For a team to be successful and all relationships to remain positive, it is important that the most important and difficult issues are able to be discussed during team meetings.  As all ideas are obtained from all participating individuals, the team is able to solve problems quickly, politics are minimised and critical topics can be freely tabled for discussion.


It is clear that there is commitment within the team when all staff are aligned towards clear goals and objectives. Everyone knows what their colleagues are working on and how they contribute to the collective good of the business or school. Teamwork and working collaboratively is evident.

When everyone feels that their ideas and opinions are heard and properly understood this is another clear sign of commitment within the team. It is important that everyone is confident that the team are completely committed to the decisions agreed on, even if there was initial disagreement. Everyone is able to communicate positively and effectively, and discussions are closed with clear and specific resolutions.

Another indicator of commitment within the team is when everyone is motivated by opportunities to support and contribute to the team success. All team members appreciate and understand how each other thinks, acts and works, and these differences and diversity are, in fact, appreciated and celebrated as bringing more ideas and innovation to the table.

Team members may need to adapt their behaviour on occasion for the benefit of maintaining a supportive and positive environment, ensuring all discussions are linked to the continued commitment to improve outcomes for the business or students.


A collaborative and cohesive team is only achievable when there is clear accountability and the team is responsible and accountable to each other. People must be able to hold each other accountable for mistakes and freely admit them.

Feedback and feedforward is another important signpost to accountability. However, this communication must be relevant, genuine, meaningful and on-going with each team member able to hear and accept all suggestions and recommendations offered.

Team members may challenge each other’s actions and ask constructive “Why” questions, ensuring everyone involved is proactive in identifying and discussing any issues or concerns. The underpinning attitude should be that all team members feel trusted and respected.


Final relationship area needed to successfully form a collaborative and cohesive team is a focus on results. The team must have a strong agreed vision and be continually looking at ways to improve, grow and develop – the team is solutions focused with clear agreed values, practices and behaviours.

Some strategies to achieve a results-focused team include:

  • Notice, recognise and respond to your staff proactively.
  • Know when people have moved into their limitation zone.
  • Coach and mentor to address any issues or concerns, or to grow and develop more experienced staff.
  • Have clear expectations and standards of your staff.
  • Survey your staff annually or biannually to check-in the work environment, communication, teamwork and general effectiveness.
  • Ensure that teambuilding occurs in some form, once at term with a focus on:
    • building relationships.
    • effective communication.
    • providing opportunities to work as a team.

For more on building & maintaining positive workplace relationships or to discuss a tailored programme for your organisation which includes DiSC Profiling your team, please contact me here.


Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash