The Secret to Better Work Relationships

Categories: Global Mindset, Global Teams, GlobeSmart




Are you having trouble communicating with your boss? Do you have a diverse work team you can’t seem to motivate properly? Or maybe a colleague you just can’t figure out?

Don’t worry, it’s not just you – work relationships are difficult. But they don’t have to be.

The GlobeSmart Profile (GSP) identifies potential challenges between different work styles and provides advice and concrete strategies to pave the way for increased business success.

Don’t take our word for it, though. We’ve interviewed a few members of the Aperian Global team that have used (and continue to use) the GSP to their advantage. Read on to see how learning about one another’s work styles can help foster better understanding, create a more enjoyable work relationship, and boost efficiency.

Interview #1: Derice & Joyce

Derice Darlington heads up the GlobeSmart Engagement Group. She manages Joyce Lee, who is a GlobeSmart Engagement Manager. They have been working together since July 2016.

Derice and Joyce discuss how knowing each other’s work styles has empowered them to create style-switching strategies, allowing them to work together in a more complementary way. They also discuss how the GSP dispels the myth of the “bad worker,” as well as work style stereotypes. See below a snapshot of their GSP comparison.

How has the GlobeSmart Profile helped your working relationship?

Derice: As different situations have come up over the course of my relationship with Joyce, it has been helpful to reflect on our profiles and consider our different work styles and the different industries we come from.

Before Aperian Global, I was a consultant for a large technology company, and I didn’t necessarily get to know everyone on a project. It was a very task-oriented role; it was about getting the job done.

Joyce is more relationship-oriented than I am. For example, on calls, I tend to jump right into business, whereas Joyce will ask about your day first.

I like building trust and a comfortable work environment, but I don’t have to have a personal conversation to have a successful work relationship. But with Joyce, I switch styles and truly enjoy getting to be more relationship-oriented. We connect on so many things; it’s nice to have that connection and trust in place.

Joyce: I think I am extremely relationship-oriented. I care about people. I’m the type of person who works better with you if I get to know you. I feel more comfortable telling you my honest opinion that way. In order for me to give candid feedback, I need to know and trust you.

I’ve learned to set an agenda because I can easily get derailed with small talk, as I try to get to know colleagues and clients. Not everyone likes it, so I make sure I have a strategy to adapt to other people’s work styles and get things done.

I’ve also learned to adapt to Derice’s communication style. I’m more egalitarian, and Derice is more status-oriented. Derice will consider who to talk to and what exactly to say; she will go through the proper channels. I am the type that has the urge to jump ahead and talk to someone to fix a problem. I want to tell people instantly if something is wrong.

But, because Derice is more status-oriented, I tell myself to pause and get her opinion before talking to others. I try to think in her shoes, in her work style.

Derice: As a manager, the GSP has been a useful tool to coach Joyce. It makes work-life easier for both of us, knowing how to partner with someone with a different work style.

Were you surprised by any of the GlobeSmart Profile results?

Joyce: I was surprised to see that I am more independent than I thought I was. I used to be more interdependent. As a Chinese woman, I value group harmony. We learn to put the group first, before our own identity. I think I’ve changed working for Aperian Global virtually. I have to make a lot of executive decisions on my own.

I’m surprised where Derice falls on the direct-indirect scale. I think she’s more direct with me, but with clients may be more indirect.

Derice: I was surprised to see such a large gap between our Profiles! Joyce is very direct with me, and she communicates openly. My style, I think, tends to be more indirect because I like background details and a lot of contexts compared to her.

Joyce: I often switch styles when I email Derice, because I know she needs more background information. I tend to prepare more information before I talk to her.

What do you think the most useful aspect of the GlobeSmart Profile is?

Derice: The GSP is broad enough to be applied to a number of situations: feedback, coaching, or simply getting to know a colleague. Everyone has so many layers. Instead of getting offended or accusing someone of being a “bad worker,” the GlobeSmart Profile is able to really open up the conversation on how someone works and helps you understand who that person is.

Joyce: We don’t need to be friends with colleagues – not everyone will be – but we need to respect one another, and this tool helps. It leverages a discussion about respect.

While the profile can help with generalizations about a culture, it’s important not to stereotype ethnic groups. Just because individuals share a cultural background doesn’t mean they conform. We need to be very cautious, look at people on an individual basis, and never make assumptions.

For example, someone once unintentionally assumed I was status-oriented because I’m Chinese, when in fact, I’m the opposite!

Interview #2: Mike & Medena

Mike Greto is Aperian Global’s Managing Director of Global Client Strategy. He manages Medena Rastorgoueva, who is a Senior Global Account Manager. Mike and Medena have been working together for five years, although Mike has been managing Medena for 2 years.

Mike shares how the GSP has helped him reflect on his own work style and become a better manager and communicator; he also highlights the importance of the GSP for virtual teams who can’t communicate in person. Medena’s profile indicates she has the traits suited for her position; she also discusses how having a different work role can change your work style profile.

What did the GlobeSmart Profile teach you about your personal work style and your manager/employee’s work style?

Mike: It’s been helpful to know I’m indirect. I didn’t think I was that indirect, but I’m learning to solicit information and reframe my ideas, knowing that I might be talking ‘around’ something. I feel I can communicate more effectively than I did before.

Medena: I took the survey a few years ago and I was more direct. I’ve become closer to indirect on the spectrum. I think I’ve tailored my communication style. As roles and responsibilities change for an individual, it can impact her or his Profile results.

Mike: Its good Medena is in the relationship-based role she is in. For client-facing roles, good relationships are key so it’s important to know where you fall on the task–relationship scale. I believe you can build good relationships by listening to clients.

And while I still work closely with clients, as my role has transitioned into more of a management position, I feel like I’ve shifted from relationship-focused towards task-focused. This may be in part because there are more inputs coming in and I need to make quicker decisions. Finding the right balance between task and relationship is an ongoing dance!

Were you surprised by any of the GSP results?

Medena: I was surprised to see the difference between us for independence and interdependence, but reflecting, Mike does work in a very collaborative way. He likes to get everyone’s opinion on something; he always asks what I think about things… So, it does make sense.

What do you think the most useful aspect of the GlobeSmart Profile is?

Medena: The profile helps you become aware of other people’s work styles, so you can consider that before just diving in and working to cater only your own work style.

I think it’s applicable to all social situations. For example, I’ve applied my knowledge of how I operate in terms of listening and task orientation in social settings. Hopefully, my friendships benefit!

Mike: I actually had my wife take her Profile a while back, and she is much more direct. It was very helpful to us… “Oh, that’s why you did do that! …Or didn’t do that.” It’s applicable in a lot of realms; corporate, home life, academia, etc.

Who do you think would most benefit from taking the GlobeSmart Profile?

Mike: Medena and I started our working relationship face-to-face, but now we work remotely. While it’s a beneficial tool to help improve any relationship, I’d argue that it’s even more important to do this exercise when you manage someone virtually and don’t have the face time to build a relationship. You can’t pick up the same cues from walking into someone’s office and seeing them face to face.

Are you ready to improve your working relationships?