Building Successful Work Relationships

dog and boyThere was a good joke doing the rounds recently. If you are the ‘sensitive type’ I suggest you look away now! I heard this from another guy – but women can easily reverse the punchline and tell the joke against men. Here goes….

Two guys are talking. First guy says:

What’s the recipe for a perfect marriage”?

“Eh, well, it’s really a recruitment issue, isn’t it?”

“What do you mean?’

“When you choose a great partner you have to look out for 5 things”

“I’m listening. What sort of things?”

“Firstly, you need to marry your soulmate. A close friend, someone you can share things with in absolute confidence”

“Ok, I buy it. What’s the 2nd thing?”

“Cooking. You need to hook up with a Nigella Lawson type. 3 meals a day, 40 years. Do the math. It’s a lot of kitchen time”.

“Absolutely. I can definitely relate to Nigella. What ‘s the 3rd thing?”

“Financial independence. You need someone who will not be overly dependent”.

“Hey, so far so good. You’re on a roll. What’s the 4th thing?”

“Sex. It’s critical. Irons out the wrinkles”.

“Ha ha. Very droll. So, what’s the 5th thing”?

“Well, this is the most important of all. Those 4 women should never be allowed to meet!”

Management Competence: The joke is funny precisely because it’s impossible to be good at everything. Yet, that’s often the artificial standard that organizational leaders are held to. When I talk to people who have problems in work, they often describe their manager as if s/he was some form of Attila the Hun. Usually when we drill down, there is some particular aspect of their style that my client doesn’t like. Their manager might be hopeless at giving feedback, lack ‘front of house’ skills or lose the plot when it comes to crunching numbers. Whatever. Yet, if we assume normal managerial skills, it’s completely unrealistic to think that your boss will be great at everything.

Lower Expectations: Someone once told me that the recipe for a happy marriage was to ‘lower your expectations’. Perhaps the same point applies to your work relationships. Be realistic. Focus on the 90% that’s working well, rather than the 10% that’s not. Don’t expect your manager to be brilliant at everything. Because they might just pick up on the unrealistic idea that 100% brilliance is the standard and start applying it to you! Get down off that Crucifix and start to accept your manager as he or she is, rather than the mythical boss that you want them to be.


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