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Work that Relationship

You’ve been tasked with a project in which you need to engage a number of people over whom you don’t have positional power, and where, despite your best efforts, you don’t get the response you need.  You send emails, project plans, status updates, leave voicemails and meeting requests, but still nothing.  As a result the project starts to slip, deliverables get missed, and it’s your neck on the line for non-delivery!

For many people in this situation, the response is simply to do more plans, emails, meeting requests etc.  In some cases this may have the desired effect, but many times nothing will change.  So what to do?

At Altris we believe that the quality of relationships between people is a key element in business success.  We use the term Relationship Equity to reflect the relative health of our investment in a significant business relationship.  It is our view that many times what is missing in situations such as that above, is a healthy connection between the people involved.

Easy to say but perhaps not so easy to do.  What one person is looking for may be quite different from another.  Different thinking and behavioural styles will mean that any two people will have varying needs.  So we encourage individuals to reflect regularly on the quality of their key business relationships, and to look at what is working or not working in these from the perspective of both parties.

There are three major elements to consider:

  • Our beliefs about the relationship and what it is there for, through having clear expectations and openness about what we are both looking for.
  • The way we sustain the relationship – how we are and what we do (e.g. giving time to it; listening; sharing; keeping promises etc.)
  • How we feel about the relationship (e.g. valuing and respecting each other; feeling good about working together).

Simply taking a few minutes to reflect on each of these areas in your significant business relationships, and particularly those where things don’t seem to be going right, could open up some new insights into things you might do to improve the situation.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of taking 15 minutes over a coffee to talk through what you are looking to achieve, and what you are looking for from them, and allowing them to reflect back from their perspective.  In other cases it might be about sitting down and working through what’s working or not working for both of you in respect to how you are ‘doing’ the relationship.  Each case will be different.

Whatever the particular situation, it’s worth remembering that as human beings (as opposed to human ‘doings’) we are all unique and have our own ways of seeing things.  Investing time in building up your Relationship Equity bank account might just be the answer to unlocking that frustration you have been feeling about that project or person.  Give yourself permission to do so and see it as an equally important element to your role to ‘getting things done’.



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