As a parent of two teenagers, I have watched with interest their evolution in building relationships, and the importance of these relationships in their lives. From the constant drama, to, frankly, bewilderment on how my son, who communicates mainly through grunts and general enquiries on the availability of food, has managed to develop deep, enduring, and supportive friendships. As important as these personal relationships are in our lives, building effective professional relationships is equally as important to our success, So, what relationships should we be building?
I think there are 3 fundamentally important relationships that we should be aware of and invest in – Client Relationships, Employee Relationships, and Peer Relationships.
Building Client Relationships
Clients will generally feel most comfortable doing business with you if they feel they know you personally and can trust your integrity. On average 65% of business comes from repeat business from existing customers, but how do I do this? … build a relationship with them.
Firstly, concentrate on building a platform of trust. Listen to your client, understand how best to deliver a solution to their requirements, and then deliver. Once you have developed a delivery strategy and performed it, the trust will develop, and the relationship with thrive. But things will go wrong, it’s the nature of business, so how do we navigate through the issues? Creating a collaborative environment where feedback is welcomed, both positive and negative is key. In fact, as counterintuitive as it may sound, demonstrating the effective management of issues or delivering bad news can almost always serve to strengthen a partnership if the message is delivered properly and the corrective action is prompt and successful.
In essence, if your approach is personal, your customer service excellent and your response to issues or negative feedback is positive, immediate, and successful, your client will feel like they are in safe hands and the partnership will flourish.
Building Employee Relationships
In this era of the “great resignation”, how do we retain our talent? Of course, compensation packages are key in the current climate for attracting talent, but is this enough to retain our employees? Most likely not, as there will always be someone with a greater need or deeper pockets. So how do we prevent constant turnover? Employees who feel appreciated, engaged, and valued are far more likely to exhibit loyalty than those who don’t. In the same way, as you would with clients, you should strive to create an open, collaborative relationship. Welcome feedback both positive and negative and most importantly act on it. Listen to your employees’ ideas, welcome their input, and let them know you value their contribution. In general, people resign from people, not positions or companies, so develop the skills to be that employer that people want to work for. There is nothing more empowering than an employer who genuinely wants you to succeed and actively engages with you to make that happen. This has never been more important than in the current climate of remote working. Take time to check in with your employees, listen to them, and show initiative. Now, as the world starts to open up again, actively encourage face-to-face interactions, even if it’s a coffee or a Friday evening drink and a chat.
Peer Relationships and Their Importance
This type of relationship-building probably contributes most to your own experience enrichment. Having relationships with your peers and feeling part of the broader community is key to a happy engagement. A recurring theme, but equally applicable here, is open, honest communication. Listen to what people have to say, others will approach a situation from a different perspective to you, but this makes their opinion no less valid. In fact, being open to all aspects of a situation may help you better understand the nuances and intricacies involved. Being flexible, respectful, and transparent allows you to develop trust and synergy within your peer group whilst growing the relationships on a personal level too.
There is a common thread noticeable in all of the relationships above. Be genuine, treat others as you would like to be treated, and be collaborative, welcoming feedback and new ideas. This will help foster strong client engagement, a great, stable workforce, and a happy and fulfilling work life, and who knows, if you’re lucky like me, you’ll maybe make a few great friends along the way.