Relationships – The Value to be Gained
G U E S T A R T I C L E
Imagine waking to a work day knowing there is plenty to be done and feeling comfortable that you can get it done because you have the support to augment your efforts. Your relationship with your ‘suppliers’ (anyone who has inputs into your work processes – internal or external) is positive and productive. Therefore, what you need is understood by them and delivered on time so you can use your skills knowledge and experience to get the job done well. Stress is positive instead of distressing because even when things go wrong, you work with them to fix it – no blame and no time wasted, the focus is on the issue to be resolved and the intent is to make everyone’s life easier.
Now imagine you have replicated the same type of positive relationships upstream from you – with your internal and external customers. You know what they require to get the best possible outcomes and you know what output you need to deliver to make it happen.
What you have achieved is a collaborative relationship with the people who are your contacts at work – your own manger included. Therefore the work that gets done delivers real results that make a positive difference and it does so efficiently, so your bottom line is improved. Of course, I am assuming that you have the job skills to successfully carry out the ‘technical’ responsibilities of your role.
Is this possible?
It is and many of the very best organisations like Google and the Boston Consulting Group have collaborative organisational cultures, which means what I have described above is how their people work together. I hasten to point out that nothing is perfect and they have to consistently work at redirecting competitive behaviour. The purpose of this article is to encourage collaboration even at an individual level so that you form collaborative networks within your own sphere of influence.
Can you step back and look at how your expectations of others affect the relationship you have with them? To me this is the biggest challenge we face when seeking to establish collaborative relationships. Some of the causes include:
- We tend to look at interaction with others as a means to satisfying a need we have. Sometimes we subordinate the needs of the other party and that is what causes the push back and counter -competitive behaviour from the other party.
- We feel a personal antipathy towards the other party and it gets in the way of constructive interaction. Our respective messages do not get effectively listened to and discussion evolves into an argument and point scoring contest.
- Impasse occurs or resolution depends on who has more power or who has stronger sponsor/s.
The Fallout – We could have dysfunctional relationships with key people who are essential suppliers or customers. Therefore cooperation is minimal. So we do not leverage the potential we each have to make things easier for the other. The costs are threefold if we include issues like downright rudeness and bullying:
- The stress is negative and it makes work a less attractive place to be. Which of course hampers your career prospects and personal well being. The flow on effects can and often do affect family life and relationships outside work.
- The cost of our outputs increase through rework and innovation is restricted, which helps our competitors and puts increased pressure on management to ‘fix’ the situation. Consequently, the flow-on effects are not good.
- When it gets too difficult for some staff members absenteeism and turnover increases with consequent loss of expertise and increased cost of recruitment and training. The kicker is that there is no guarantee that controls will be introduced to stop the rudeness and bullying.
- You can ask for meeting to discuss how you can help each other.
- Know exactly what the best outcome for you will be.
- Accept that you need to manage your feelings as they could get in the way of achieving your objective – particularly if the behaviour of the other party is aggressive.
- Be willing to suspend judgment and listen to what is being said. Be patient and ensure that you show attending behaviour when the other party is speaking. Manage your non-verbals so that you are in control of yourself and that contributes to managing the interaction.
- Always be willing to cooperate in meeting the other party’s needs. No one comes to a meeting simply to meet yours.
- Remember that you do not have to like the other party you simply have to work with them. My experience is that if you manage to get a working relationship going it is not unusual to find common ground and improve the personal relationship.
- Look after your health, as it enables resilience in stressful stressful environments.
- If you are in a management position ensure your people understand the importance of collaboration and that your relationship with your opposite numbers in interdependent functions (external suppliers and customers as well) is positive and cooperative.
It is not hard to get good or even exceptional results when relationships are positive. This certainly is not easy and does demand some discipline and skills development to succeed in overcoming our conditioning and relationship paradigms. However, the results are certainly worth it. Most importantly they are sustainable.
About the author:
Robert Vander Wall
Development Facilitator, Principal SAGE 8 (Sydney, Bangkok, Ho Chi Minh City).
Robert has been successfully consulting to Australian and overseas organisations since 1989. He has been a trainer for more than twenty years; during this time he also managed a large corporate training function for three years. He set up Sage Training in Australia in 1997, and then established it in Sri Lanka in 2001; where he worked for four years from May 2003. He launched Sage in Thailand in 2010. Robert is a powerful communicator whose engaging and motivational style can reach even the most difficult audience and secure commitment to required outcomes. Effective program design is one of the keys to successful training. Robert’s skills in this discipline are used by some of Australia & Sri Lanka’s leading organisations.
Robert has worked with many global organisations including; Sony, Coca Cola, Hewlett Packard, Victoria’s Secret, TNT, Woolworths, and Fujitsu General to name a few. He was the only non-academic invited to present a paper he wrote at the Global Conference on Leadership Ethics at Ashridge Business School, UK. He is currently based in Sydney.
This article has been produced with permission. Title picture is not associated with the original writing.