Interpersonal relations is the winner

Posted by: KSG-admin Post Date: February 22, 2021

Interpersonal relations is the winner

GUEST COLUMN

By Dr. Fredrick Mukabi, Deputy Director Learning and Development, Embu Campus

As we strive to realize the envisaged ‘Fit for Purpose’ culture in the Kenya School of Government, it is imperative that we become conscious of what I wish to christen the ‘Software for the Fit for Purpose Work Environment’ and how it could enhance this culture realization.

Indeed, 2021 presents yet another opportunity for the School to hit the mark through its diverse workforce that needs to productively engage in an interpersonally supportive environment.

Arguably, we spend more time with our colleagues than anyone else in our working lives. Looking forward to seeing colleagues at the workplace each day, you will report to work happier and motivated to take on the day with palpable results. A study at a Swiss foodstuffs giant company – Nestle – on Improving interpersonal relations among employees established that Nestle deliberate policy initiatives towards enhancing interpersonal relations is responsible for overall global success.

Therefore, ensuring that one gets along with colleagues may increase job satisfaction, improve productivity within the School, and increase the overall happiness index of other staff. Different research findings have also shown that good interpersonal relations at the work place is attributable to the general good health and well-being of employees, enhanced psycho social support, a sense of connection and comradeship within the workplace, provision of leverage for career growth and development as well as expansion of individual employees social capital.

A question is posed on how, then, we can improve our interpersonal relations at School and Campus level. A designation of an officer notwithstanding, if one works with others well, they may enjoy the benefits that come with good interpersonal relations. In this writeup, I am discussing some tips on how to better get along with colleagues.

Understand colleagues
Always take time to learn and know your colleagues in terms of where they come from, their culture, their likes and dislikes, and even their challenges both work related or personal.

This will help you navigate through any complex interpersonal interactions there may be at the workplace. Showing interest in others, signals to them that you are open to forming a friendship and also helps you figure out if you are compatible with a colleague and what to do or avoid as you interact.

Positive interactions
Learn to keep the conversations with your colleagues positive and encourage discussions about personal growth and improvement of services for the School. I know it may feel good at the moment to complain about management, your supervisor, or another coworker, this may, however, discourage others from wanting to participate in such a conversation. So it may be best to refrain.

Avoiding gossip and overly negative conversations and build your image as a forthright person and a confidant.

Refrain on personal details
It is important to be open and honest in the workplace. However, it is also critical to avoid over-sharing personal matters. Try to keep your work conversations social and light, where possible, unless you are particularly close to a co-worker. This can help you maintain a professional, yet friendly, relationship with your colleagues. Remember, familiarity breeds contempt.

Show work ethics
Endeavour to make getting your work done a priority. It may seem counterintuitive, but focusing on getting your assigned work done each day is an important aspect of getting along with your co-workers. Avoid over socializing.

It is when you prioritize doing your own that you support the performance chain, prevent your coworkers from having to perform additional tasks, and contribute to a friendlier and productive work environment. That way, you end up being a mentor other than a burden to the rest.

Be approachable
Wear a pleasant personality that makes you reachable by colleagues when in need. Always have a ‘smile mask’ on, no matter what you may be going through. This is an important tip for School managers.

Letting your subordinates know they can approach you when in need, helps them open up their personal as well as work related challenges. Sharing of pleasantries such as routine greetings is important. The rule of thumb is to be firm, friendly, and respectable. The idea of being bossy is fairly outdated.

Embrace team work
Consider yourself as a conveyor belt in the work process and appreciate the importance of team spirit and the benefits that abound. Understand the significance of your contribution to the team that you are working with.

It is often easy to work with the same group of people each day, especially if you are part of a team that never changes but, where possible, try to work with other teams such as committees and task groups across your workplace. This will allow you to meet new friendly colleagues and potentially make new work friends.

Workplace etiquette
It is our responsibility to practice respectful behaviour and workplace etiquette all the time. Define your selfconcept and always ask yourself such questions as Do you have selfawareness, What do others think about you, What are your social attributes and are they worth emulating by others, Do you command respect based on what is known about you, Can you be a mentor to others, and How can you improve your self-image.

Talk well about your seniors and any criticism should be constructive and in a respectable manner. Reflect an understanding that leadership cannot be perfect and occasional flaws are not unusual.

Respect should be for those at your level, above you and below you in hierarchy irrespective of the nature of their job, class, ethnicity, religion or gender. Your personal grooming, use of appropriate language, phone etiquette, alongside other workplace etiquette, can promote positive coworker relationships.

Understand your role
Have clarity of how you and your department supports the realization of the School mandate. Appreciate others in the kind of support they offer you and your department towards achievements.

Have a clear line of sight on your contribution to the KSG mandate with clarity on your roles to avoid overlaps and gaps. Embrace Ubuntuism that is ‘I am because we are’. You cannot be somebody without others.

Be involved
Learn to participate in activities that foster unity such as workplace birthday events, grieving moments for colleagues, and support colleague even during their wedding preparations.

These should reflect you as a social and empathetic person. It will also make others reciprocate and develop a culture of social support across our School in general and campuses in particular.

Embrace core values
All KSG employees are called upon to embrace spirituality and the School core values. The School staff are God fearing persons whose values are guided by sound religious practices.

Always, therefore, try to be open and appreciate all religions and denominations as a means of reaching out to God. If possible actively participate and be open to invitation to joint prayer sessions.

In summary, we have a beautiful School with beautiful people and beautiful jobs. Let us be good to them always. Let your light shine before others in the School. Indeed, Mathew 5:16 sums it all: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see good deeds and glorify your Father in Heaven”.