We’ve all experienced ‘that guy’ in our teams that wants to win at all costs, needs to saveface by never being wrong, or can’t help always having the last word. The “me-first”mentality pervades western culture which typically rewards individualistic behavior and searches for the super-star.
In my experience, however, the power of team, collaboration, and community is rising to the surface as the more effective way to reach the best outcomes. It is often more cumbersome, time consuming, and even sometimes painful, but when managed well, it yields innovative ideas, more refined solutions, and stronger teams.
Under the surface of any team lies the relationships that connect the individuals together. This web of interconnectivity is intricate in its detail, and usually unseen and undefined by those involved, but its impact can mean the success or failure of any group or project.
At Apricot, we liken this to the root structure of a tree. As a consulting firm, we work with clients on their organizational health, focusing on seven key areas: Purpose, Leadership, Innovation, Communication, Accountability, Growth, & Stakeholder Engagement. These are the “branches” of the tree in which we can look for healthy fruit or diseased limbs.
Underneath the tree is the root structure that not only holds the tree up, but is responsible for connecting each of the branches and is key to delivering nutrients throughout the entire organism. Relationships are the foundation upon which we build the entire people side of the business. They are how we hear and be heard, how we know and be known, and the lens through which we interpret all our interpersonal activities. In fact, it is also through relationships among colleagues that the strategic side of business ultimately gets negotiated, decided and ultimately communicated as well.
Nurturing our relationships is therefore one of our key responsibilities to be effective in the workplace. Internally and externally, we cannot get business done without them. And how do we best do this?
- Take time
By having margin in our schedules to connect with people beyond the next “yes, I’ll get that done” or “No, I can’t make it” we communicate that they have value to us as people, not simply work machines. Make the effort to call, connect, and catch-up.
- Be Authentic
Be the real you. People sense “fakeness” a mile away and it only serves to keep your relationship at surface level because it doesn’t build trust. It’s ok to acknowledge who you are, where you’re at, and even the things you’re concerned about. It makes you human, like the rest of us!
- Actually Care
When you take the time to listen to your boss, peers and subordinates, you’ll learn things about them – personal hopes, work anxieties, and inane preferences. Actually doing something with this information such as building a professional development plan to reach those personal hopes, or sourcing solutions to those work anxieties will not only show your employee that they’ve been heard, they’ll know you actually care about their personal well-being.
Relationships are the foundation of all business. If we take care of them, not only do our professional lives benefit, our personal lives will be so much the richer.