Relationships drive every aspect of our lives. How are your relationships? In business, in family, in leisure and in play our relationships are central to our existence. Over the past 60 days I have observed three cornerstones for relationship success.
The first cornerstone is that relationships are forged through time and trust. One of the central relationships we form first is with our parents. At the beginning of this month, I enjoyed a 5 day hiking trip with my father. My father is a central relationship for me because I have been fortunate enough to have known him for 39 years. He has built trust by investing time, demonstrating love and providing for me during my formative years.
In business, the same is true. Through time and trust clients become loyal, employees stay engaged and partners prosper. One potential risk is that we move forward prematurely or we do not follow through with our commitments. Trust is strengthened through excellent communication, quality work and follow through.
The second cornerstone is that it is never too late to reconnect with relationships from the past and to start new relationships. This past week I reconnected with an old friend from high school. It was like no time had past and we picked up where we left off, from jokes, to family interests and our history together. He has strengthened my personal and professional life greatly.
In business, those network partners and prospects from years past are potential pathways for future growth. Additionally, it is never too late to grow professionally and add new skill.
The third cornerstone about relationships is that without them we cannot function well. Think about your peers, boss, client and vendor relationships. All of these carry a mutual interest. Trust sits at the cornerstone of these relationships. If you say you will do something, please do it and if you say you won’t then do not.
Relationships also can carry stress. In fact, managers spend 20% of their week resolving conflict and most employees would say they leave a job because of a bad boss. Why is that? Well because the manager received a promotion and is looking out for themselves vs. the results of the team. It is time for managers to create a strong relational foundation on which their employees can stand on and exceed their own careers. A temptation for the manager is that ego takes over and the relationship becomes one sided. A transaction vs. a transformation.
How does this apply to your work life and leadership role? Consider the following questions and evaluate the strength of your relationships.
1.) Evaluate on a scale of 1 -5 the following categories of relationships. (5 Means Great and 1 Means Poor)
Boss or Supervisor:
If you answer 20 – 25 you have highly functioning relationships. Take a look at your lowest score, what is one way to increase the strength of that relationship? (HINT: It may be as simple as scheduling a lunch and ask questions of that person and listen)
2.) What business partnerships or relationships have you neglected? A good next step here is to reach out and reconnect. Remember it is NEVER too late!
3.) What areas in business, leadership or in your technical work do you feel weakest? Who around you can help you grow and move forward? Schedule a time and ask for their help. I have multiple mentors and multiple people that encourage me to move forward.
4.) What is a business partnership that is not working and really needs to? What is a step you can take to resolve the conflict? (HINT: It is never too late here either) Forge a new path with that person and move forward promising to commit to action and trust building.
5.) When you are in conversations with people are you holding back your input or opinion because you are afraid of rejection? You are not doing anyone any good by holding back who you are!
What other cornerstones for business relationships do you have?