What is a functional relationships?
In Mathematics and economics, a functional relationship defines the following:
‘Each x-value as an input/variable pairs with exactly one y-value as an output or its dependable variable.’
The same definition can be applied to organisational theories dedicated to companies’ management and internal environment.
Think about x and y as a team members functional relationship. The input is the value people bring to the team or the company in general. By pairing them, we can see how one of the team members is dependable on the other and vice versa. The connection between reliable variables could be applied to real-life situations when there is a connection between people. You, as part of a team, are dependable on your peers. You need to contribute to the overall performance with your inputs, and the others are expected to do the same.
Are you ready to rely on your teammates that they will take your “inputs” and get the best “output” out of them?
People often do not feel comfortable in situations where they should trust someone, especially if this person is unknown or a newcomer. This is where the need to build functional relationships arises below the surface.
Build and sustain effective relationships between team members – a game changer!
Building strong functional relationships between team members is commonly perceived as the toughest to build within an organisation.
We are talking about people with various personalities, attitudes, values, and visions. Even more, you want to build strong relationships between already established human beings. Companies face many challenges daily in their effort to boost their teams and make them peak-performing ones.
The ability to create this solid relational bridge between peers and sustain it in the long term is a game-changer for most team leaders. There are some practices to recognise a workmate and truly rely on him/her to bolster the whole team’s performance.
One of them could be the KissTheFrogNOW tool – it’s a great way to help your team build their communication skills and get to know each other. Communication is one of the most important competencies that every member of your team should possess. Excellent communication skills will help your team members have a better working relationship and be more productive in general.
Also, it is pretty easy to use KissTheFrogNOW in your everyday work life to build vital emotional intelligence and unravel your team’s full potential and efficiency. In functional relationships, teammates support each other and at the same time make efforts for their development. With the variety of team building activities, you will be able to take care of the development of the various abilities of your team members:
- Design thinking
- Logical thought
Effective communication – The key to engaging team members
Whether we are talking about functional teams (those including people from one functional area working together) or cross-functional ones (those consisting of people from different functional areas in the company), both types need to establish strong communication flows to become peak-performing.
Companies find it very hard to align teammates from different functional areas because they have different personalities and motivational drivers. MIT SMR and Deloitte’s survey of more than 3,500 managers found that “the most digitally advanced companies – those successfully deploying digital technologies and capabilities to improve processes, engage talent across the organisation, and drive new value-generating business models – are far more likely to perform functional collaboration.”
To align people from different areas and backgrounds around a common vision, you need to ensure good communication between them. Suppose you want to build a trustworthy relationship between you and your teammates or between your team and another from a different functional area. In that case, you need to bond them through speech – identify potential common topics even outside of the workplace, common pain points, and perceptions.
What are the functional teams?
The performance of your company depends on three essential concepts:
- Competitive advantage.
Suppose all of the teams across your organisation do not align with the corporate culture and values. In that case, none of them will perform based on the same principles – misunderstandings and chaotic workflow will come as results. If the same functional teams do not share a cohesive vision, they will not be able to communicate effectively. In terms of your company’s competitive advantage – your human resources are your most significant advantage – the people you have onboard are the ones who will either build your company or ruin it.
Functional teams do some of the most important work within your company, the one that has the potential to strengthen deeply (or fundamentally weaken) your entire culture. And yet, it’s all too familiar for functional teams to be thrown together and told to “make it work.”
Sometimes, department leaders will employ group activities based on discussions or games. However, knowing more about a group but not the individuals themselves isn’t effective enough to increase team collaboration and deepen the debate. First, focus on building good personal relationships, so everybody understands what a great colleague they have.
Apply to the country club
Are you familiar with the concept of everyday leadership? It states that we are all leaders in different settings of our lives, and we choose which leadership style to use, depending on the social environment.
- Country-club management
- Team management
- Impoverished management
- Task management
- In the middle of the road management.
The country-club management style emphasises team members’ needs and focuses mainly on the relationship between them – this does not mean that people in the team do not care about the task. People in this style would say:
“The task will be naturally and successfully achieved only if proper functional relationships between team members are achieved.”
Whether you are the team leader or a team member, apply this leadership style to your team to build an initially strong relationship. Accept your team members as if they are your friends and have a similar attitude towards them. As you have a soulmate in your personal life, find a workmate within your team.
- Get below the surface in knowing them better.
- Ask and listen about their needs, preferences, values.
- Understand what is essential for them in work and life.
- Identify their leadership style and the reasons for their choice.
- Exploit their best qualities and competencies and rely on them.
- Consider their weaknesses and gaps to be able to support those areas, respectively, with your abilities.
It is essential to gain deeper insight into how your teammates think and feel depending on different situations. Understand what they value and hate most, not only about the company’s workflow or about the company’s procedures and projects, but about something personal, more controversial in life. By exploring their core values and personal principles, you would be more able to communicate with them.
Why should you put effort into developing functional team relationships?
Don’t you prefer to train your social and soft skills as well? Would you like to exercise your personal everyday leadership styles depending on the situation? Would you like to work in a friendly and healthy environment surrounded by people who value your opinion and skills because you showed the same attitude towards them? Would you like to be part of a stable and top-performing team?
We believe that the answers to all those questions are ‘Yes!’. We all want to be satisfied with the tasks that we are performing and the people we work with.
Besides showing your interest in their perception and encouraging turn-taking conversations, you are showing respect and acknowledgement. People admire such behaviour, and consequently, they will put more effort and perform better if they know that they do this for or with a person who cares for them. Overall, knowing your people is key both for enhancing functional solid team relationships.
Find and sustain your functional team relationship
Great team members and leaders are knowledgeable and able to engage and inspire others. However, today it is even more important to know your limitations and have a workmate who can complement your solid sides and fill the gaps.
When working in groups, many people think that they can build better relationships with their teammates only if they show them how outperforming they are. People are more likely to admire you if you admit that you need help in a project or your task.
This is your chance to surround yourself with teammates who can fill your gaps – a crucial step for building a functional relationship.
Successful functional team relationships are those that:
- Understand and appreciate others’ strengths and functions needed to support your work.
- Delegate work and roles based on already built bonding relationships.
- Knowing the other person’s strengths and weaknesses without judging.
- Workmates do not only work together – they trust each other.
Consensus and fair compromises – keys for long-lasting functional relationships
Trendy researchers Kelley and Caplan once stated that peak-performing groups have members who would like to build functional relationships. How? By making compromises and building consensus to avoid conflicts. By empathising, collaborating, and promoting cooperation with their teammates.
However, it is not only this harmony and consensus in the team that enhances proper relationships. A study by Harvard Business Review points out one very essential characteristic to build the right functional relationships between team members – motivation. But even before being able to motivate the people you work with, the key element is getting to know them better.
How to build sustainable, functional relationships
Build strong one-to-one interpersonal relationships
Being part of a functional team is an opportunity to build ties with different team members, see from other persons’ point of view and explore different types of communications. As a team member, you have the chance to develop as a personality and an expert by cooperating with others in a variety of situations. Take the opportunity to start building the whole relational pyramid starting from the interpersonal level.
To accelerate the building of this pyramid, encourage one-to-one meetings and honest conversations. Either by using the KissTheFrogNOW personal questions cards or just by organising a discussion on various topics after work, you can get the chance to gain these deep insights to drive transparency and trust.
Relationship intelligence goes beyond the emotional one.
To build a strong and long-lasting functional relationship with your teammates, you need to get familiar with the concept of relationship intelligence. It begins by understanding people’s insight into one another. Relationship Intelligence cultivates emotional intelligence in a way that contributes to collaboration among team members. It is a shared state and pioneers’ new behaviours.
Increase diversity understanding and team-building activities.
Some companies form homogeneous teams, while others prefer diverse groups, depending on the strategy and time. Nevertheless, whatever the team’s structure and state are, organising team-building activities in which the team members feel like a family will likely break some potential stereotypes. In general, team building activities are an excellent strategy to navigate and enhance team dynamics.
You can establish strong functioning relationships through team-building activities with a systematic and long-term mindset transformation. This will lead you to find your workmate who will fill your gaps and work with you smoothly regardless of the workplace setting.