Relationships and engagement



Personal relationships build the foundation for the productive collaboration, personal engagement and commitment of others. This includes one-to-one relationships as well as setting up a whole network of relations. Time and attention have to be invested in establishing durable and robust relations with individuals. The ability to form strong relationships is primarily driven by social competences such as empathy, trust, confidence and communication skills. Sharing visions and goals with individuals and the team drives others to engage in tasks and to commit to the common goals.



The purpose of this competence element is to enable the individual to build and maintain personal relationships and to understand that the ability to engage with others is a precondition for collaboration, commitment and, ultimately, performance. 



Personal relationships are initiated by genuine interest in people. Building up relationships is twofold. It is about establishing one-to-one relationships, as well as creating and supporting social networks. In both situations, the individual has to be able to interact openly with others. Once established, the relationships have to be maintained and improved by establishing and showing confidence, respectful interaction and open communication. Cultural differences can enhance interest and attractiveness as well as chances for misunderstandings that might endanger the quality of relationships. When personal relationships are established it is much easier to engage others when your own visions, goals and tasks are communicated in an enthusiastic way. Another way to engage others and get their commitment is to actively involve them in discussions, decisions and actions. In general, people tend to commit to goals and tasks more easily when asked in advance.


Key competence indicators

Initiate and develop personal and professional relationships

To initiate and develop personal relationships is to seek and make use of chances to establish contact with other people. The individual demonstrates interest in people and is ready to engage with them. The individual utilises possibilities and situations to create and maintain personal and professional contacts. The individual is present, available, open for dialogue and actively staying in contact. The individual is visible and accessible for team members, clients, customers or other stakeholders. The individual acts attentively, acknowledges others and keeps them informed.


  • Actively seeks possibilities and situations to make new contacts
  • Demonstrates interest in meeting new people
  • Uses humour as an icebreaker
  • Is present, available and open for dialogue
  • Stays actively in contact, establishes a routine for bilateral meetings
  • Keeps others informed


Build, facilitate and contribute to social networks

Building, facilitating and contributing to social networks has various levels. On the lowest level, the individual joins and contributes to networks with interesting and/or useful others. By doing so, new relationships are established. On the second level, the individual creates new networks and circles of his or her own and so opens up new communication flows between others. The individual thus acts as a facilitator or communication hub. The next level of social networking is to make one’s own relationships available for others. This means enabling, enforcing and establishing relationships between others that are sustained even without the individual being engaged.


  • Joins and contributes to social networks
  • Creates and facilitates social networks
  • Organises events for networking
  • Facilitates support for networking


Demonstrate empathy through listening, understanding and support

To demonstrate empathy means to show real interest and involvement with others and their wellbeing. The individual listens attentively to others and ensures understanding by asking questions for clarification or detail. The individual recognises emotions expressed or possibly just experienced by others. The individual relates and reacts to these emotions in a sympathetic or compassionate way. The individual offers support, even when it is not asked for.


  • Listens actively
  • Makes others feel heard
  • Asks questions for clarification
  • Relates to the problems of others and offers help
  • Familiarises with the values and standards of others
  • Responds to communication within a reasonable time


Show confidence and respect by encouraging others to share their opinions or concerns

Having confidence in someone means having belief in their future actions or decisions and being convinced of their positive intentions. The individual does not have a hidden agenda but shares information with others. The individual also accepts that showing confidence is an investment with an insecure outcome. The individual takes others, their talents and opinions seriously, and that success also depends on their actions and commitment. To get optimal team performance it is crucial to understand the motivation of the team members. To get there, the individual has to spend time with people in order to understand who they are and what makes them tick. The individual should keep in mind that the values, experiences and goals of others might be very different from his or her own. Acting respectfully means treating others in a respectful way, as you would like to be treated yourself. The individual takes others seriously by cherishing their opinions, their work and their personality, regardless of gender, race, social status or background. Cultural diversity is respected. The individual considers codes of conduct as guidelines for decisions and behaviour. 


  • Relies on a given word
  • Assigns tasks to team members based on confidence
  • Expects others to act according to common values and agreements
  • Delegates work without monitoring and controlling every single step
  • Asks others for their ideas, wishes and concerns
  • Notices and respects differences between people
  • Embraces the importance of professional and personal variety


Share own vision and goals in order to gain the engagement and commitment of others

To share a vision and goals implies acknowledging and demonstrating a positive and enthusiastic attitude towards a certain task, process or goal while showing a realistic optimism. To inspire others requires an ambitious yet clear vision, realistic objectives and the ability to achieve commitment from the people concerned. To be self-committed is an important requirement for that. 
Inspiration is often achieved through a shared vision – a view of the future that people can believe in and want to be part of. This vision can either be explicit (even written down) or implicit. The vision serves as a motivator for change.
To engage people and get their commitment means making them feel personally responsible for a good outcome. This can be done by various means – by asking their advice, by making them responsible for a task or by involving them in decisions. 
The individual should make optimal use of the skills and experience of his or her co-workers. This means that people should be involved in decisions on the basis of what they can add to the existing knowledge. The same goes for sharing information, as this can enhance commitment. However, the individual must also be aware of the dangers of information overload. As every team member has their own tasks, in some cases it is better to share information on a ‘need to know’ basis. 


  • Acts positively
  • Clearly communicates vision, goals and outcomes
  • Invites debate and critique of the vision, goals and outcomes
  • Involves people in planning and decision-making
  • Asks for commitment on specific tasks
  • Takes individual contributions seriously
  • Emphasises the commitment of all to realise success