Have you ever had a relationship with someone where you just seem to click? The effort you had to put in seemed worth it, for what you got back. There are colleagues and clients you are quite happy to pick up the phone for, and catch up with, sometimes for no other reason than simply to catch up, whereas other relationships you would rather avoid.
The ‘equity’ you have in a relationship varies from one person to another and it is this equity that when focussed on, can help to build a relationship where it has seemed impossible in the past.
Altris run workshops in Relationship Equity (R.E.) as a demonstrable part of our philosophy to help our clients harness the power of business relationships. The phrase relates to the healthiness of the ledger of our investment in a significant business relationship, relative to the effort we expend. The word ‘equity’ is also associated with the concepts of fairness and ‘having an ownership interest,’ which are particularly relevant to relationships.
Like a financial investment, each of us expects a return for our efforts in building a business relationship. This expectation may be more obvious for some of us than others. When we perceive the other’s willingness to reciprocate is not there, our goodwill with that person can erode. When this happens we find ourselves attending less to ‘keeping in touch.’ Conversely, when we perceive deposits are being made by the other, goodwill builds and, in kind, we find ourselves attending to what the other would like.
This concept is not new. Lages et al. and Stephen R. Covey are two key proponents of the power of relationships. Altris have developed a Relationship Equity Inventory (R.E.I.) which provides a useful benchmark for a particular business relationship at a particular point in time.
Each of us is attracted to a particular way of building relationships. Clues to our preferences and our gaps can be seen in the three thought-dimensions of Purpose, Process and People.
By understanding our least-preferred thought dimensions and taking action to view our relationships through that perspective, we have the opportunity to deepen our relationships. For example, having completed the Inventory we realise we really value our colleague’s natural preference to boil things down to its essence, especially since we tend to see complexity. From that realisation, we express to our colleague what we value in them and ask that they keep holding up that mantle of simplicity when we work together. As a result, they feel valued and appreciated, which in turn helps build the relationship further.
By being more aware about what we value in relationships, we become more able to harness its power and to leverage from what we value. If done with a ‘give and take mindset’ this results in a ‘win-win’ for all, and so the inherent value of the relationship grows.