How To Leverage Relationships in the Workplace For Success

People are essential to attaining success everywhere, so knowing how to get the best from your relationships is critical, especially in the workplace.

Ever heard the quote, “no man is an island?” Chances are you have. This saying is an excerpt from a sermon by the seventeenth-century English author John Donne. It simply means that no one is self-sufficient; everyone relies on others in one way or another to succeed and survive.

A publication by Forbes on utilising relationships to achieve business goals begins like this Many people say it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Others say it’s not who you know; it’s who knows you. Regardless of what perspective you prescribe to, what cannot be denied is that relationships are important.” We couldn’t help but agree!

Simply put, no one can achieve success alone. People are considered resources for a reason and are usually determinants of success or failure. This is why it is important to know how to get the best from your relationships, especially the ones in the workplace. 

The various categories of people you engage with at work require distinct strategies for leveraging your relationship with them. Take a look at the different groups of workplace relationships and the tips for maximising them: 

1. Your Teammates.

Your teammates are like your workplace family. Chances are that you even get to spend more time with them than your blood relatives  due to the hours spent in the workplace.  And because you are members of the same team, even though you might all have different core competencies, you will most likely depend on each other a lot. You find that due to the nature of the workplace, you will need to rely on one or more teammates to perform your task.

Teammates can be likened to runners in a relay race. One runner must pass the baton up to the next person along the track to achieve success. 

This collaborative spirit must be at the forefront of your relationship with teammates because success, in the end, will not be measured just based on how you ran but how the team, and more holistically, the organisation performed. When the baton of responsibility is passed to you, rise up to the occasion and contribute your quota. When it is time to pass it on to the next person, ensure you don’t withhold their opportunity to take ownership of their work or cast a shadow on their ‘star’. 

2. General colleagues.

While a huge chunk of your time will be spent working with members of your team (e.g sales, accounts, marketing,) your relationship with colleagues and counterparts in other departments should also not be overlooked. 

Some projects will require you to collaborate with workers in other departments, and with the world becoming a global village, sometimes it is collaborating with a counterpart in another country or continent even. To leverage workplace relationships, you should understand as many departments as possible. Know what they do, and how they do connects to you, so you can find ways to work together to solve problems for the business.

Doing this projects you as a person of value not just within your team, but in other teams also. Colleagues will be excited to work with you, and that enthusiasm will be beneficial to you in the long run, either from a colleague putting in a good word for you to their manager, or their connections outside the organisation.

3. Team Leads/Managers.

This is the relationship most workers concern themselves with because it is the most obvious. Everyone wants to impress their superiors, and are usually very intentional about it. However, even your manager can often tell when you’re doing what you do just because you want something. The pointers below will give you the same results more subtly.

  • Do Your Job. As simple as it sounds, doing your job is a great way to maintain a positive rapport with your manager. You were brought into the organisation because you were perceived to have a skillset that solves a problem. You certainly don’t want to volunteer for other tasks while failing at your primary responsibility. By simply doing what you’re supposed to do well, you lighten the burden on your manager and contribute to the organisation’s overall success.
  • Make Your Voice Heard. This doesn’t mean that you have to be under pressure to speak at all times. However, in the instances where you have an opinion that might give the team better results, don’t be afraid to speak up. Be vocal even when you simply have an opinion about someone else’s idea. That it isn’t your idea doesn’t mean you can not contribute. 
  • Volunteer. A popular saying goes, “the reward for good work is more work,” and we agree. If you’re already doing your job well and contributing your opinions, now you need to begin to volunteer on important projects, even though sometimes they are not your primary tasks. It helps your manager see you as someone who is not afraid of responsibility and willing to go out of your way to help the team. Be quick to ask (when you know your table can handle it), “is there anything I can help you with?”
  • Get Personal. Managers and team leads are usually under a lot of stress. Managing people, deliverables, targets, and stakeholders simultaneously is daunting. Empathy, a little “how are you doing today” or “hope you had a restful weekend” can go a long way.
  • Prioritise What They Are Prioritising. This goes without saying and is self-explanatory. If what you prioritise does not tie into your manager/team’s priorities, chances are that no one will celebrate you for doing it.

4. Subordinates/Menial Staff.

This is among the most underrated and overlooked workplace relationships, particularly for employees looking to climb the corporate ladder. Nurturing your relationship with this group can be the difference between excelling in that job and not. These people can tell you what the last person to succeed in that role did to achieve success or simply watch you repeat the mistakes of your predecessor. 

They usually have all the “tea”, as it is called, and can immediately let you know the people you should never cross in the organisation, those the decision-makers listen to. The unwritten formula for success or failure in that organisation (informal work culture), the possibilities are endless with this particular workplace relationship. They are not up the corporate ladder but usually have invaluable insight due to their roles or duties. Ensure you’re friendly with them from day one, do not look down on them, and make them feel seen, and before you know it, they’ll share tips for success with you. You just need to strike a balance to tell what is personal and true. Also, you don’t want to spend so much time listening to this group that you do not get to do your job.

Did you find this useful? Visit for more tips to help you succeed in the workplace.

Adeola Adenuga
Notification Bell