Coaching for relationships at work

Team working is one thing, one-on-one is quite another. We choose our friends but, like family, we don't choose our team colleagues, someone else does that.


They have very different criteria and purpose than we have for people we choose to have in our lives and engage with in whatever way – family, acquaintances, neighbours, social groups and more.

What criteria would you have for the ‘right’ people in your life? Those you gel with? Supportive or supporter, pleaser or assertively meeting your needs vs. other's needs?

Your organisation has criteria like these:

  • Performance evidenced from previous roles and responsibilities.
  • The other employers you have been with before.
  • The job titles and roles, responsibilities and achievements in other roles.
  • Life experience and skills they have developed and learned specifically for this industry.
  • Creativity for some roles, steadfast and analytical for others or leadership and motivation.

Unlikely any of those will be your own criteria, although some people in your life may well have those qualities which are familiar to you.

Respecting the different needs and purpose of relationships you choose or have to engage in helps a lot. That isn’t accepting them if it’s unhelpful, unhealthy or annoying for you.

Yet we each need to meet our own needs and they may well not fit with some of your teammates. Similarly, maybe you don’t fit into their preferred tendencies and characteristics.

Teamwork is effective because of the many and varied differences people bring to the table. We can learn from each other too.

Understanding people as well as yourself leads to greater awareness of differences, tendencies, quirks and talents and helps develop team tolerance if nothing more. That isn’t necessarily just putting up with irritating people but adapting and flexing to do your job – The same goes for your customers too with even more variety in most cases!

How do you manage uncomfortable situations?

It doesn’t help to shout and rage. It’s about learning to manage emotions and recognise them, to understand and manage your stressors too. If you are unsure how to do this or get negative reactions and feedback, ask for help from trusted family or friends or empathic colleagues like HR, perhaps or hopefully, your manager, to support you with insights and awareness.

The worst thing that can happen is that someone’s behaviour goes unmanaged but resented; harming others, creating discomfort in the team or between two people or groups or inter-team disharmony.

How to manage these situations

As a team or service manager, conflict will be inevitable at some points in your circumstances. New starters, old ways, restructures, stressors affecting one key person or distance that makes work more difficult than it should be.

Your role here is likely to have a chat with said people troubled in the team. Find out what you can about their feelings, the needs they are to meet for themselves and their values, what is irking them and who and why. It isn’t prying, it is part of your managerial role to manage the people in your team. It is a necessary part of your responsibilities and then you can the support and guidance you also might need to help them manage things or manage things yourself.

Managing may involve re-seating or re-organising the office space, negotiating who does what when and minimising clashes. It is about adult-to-adult communications rather than emotional fallout.

I know something of this from both sides and now wish people had helped me more than criticised me and held me responsible when outside the office so much was going on that I couldn’t see or manage. And within me too.

As a manager I had this in my team regularly.  

With your management head on:

  • Know your team members individually – characters, tendencies, needs or preferences at least, like values and manage their expectations of the team, the work, the problems and yourself.
  • Know some helpful references to offer like EAPs, HR support, other managers who can help or maybe your mental health champions who could help.
  • Maybe refer them to outside help from a GP or other services without getting too involved and spending too long managing one person's issues with them.

You, too have to care for your own needs rather than sacrificing for the team – time, energy, focus, support, encouragement and motivation. Provide an appropriate level and if unsure what that is, ask around.

Recognise the cliques in the team. Who is friends with who, who is uncomfortable with each other and find out why – it may be easy to manage once you do.

The people management aspect of working life is the hardest because it's the most complex and uncharted, unplanned and unexpected often. People are individual and complex. Bring two together and it gets more complicated and then with more opportunities for more contacts, it could sometimes become a full-time job! That is why other help is provided in workplaces to take that burden or at least help you with it.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Oldham, Greater Manchester, OL4 5SJ
Written by Julie Crowley, MBACP | Personal Development Coach | Registered Counsellor
Oldham, Greater Manchester, OL4 5SJ

Julie provides Mindset Coaching, NLP or Hypnosis work with your conscious & unconscious mind to Change your mind, Change your life. Coaching helps you to find & know yourself - utilise your natural talents & tendencies for success, find options and prepare for opportunities, create more with enhanced relationships and clear communication.

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