As you are working to improve your business relationships, you can use this exercise to give you a quick heads-up on those which are most important to you. As you grow in influence, this way of thinking will soon become second nature. Make sure to also link this in to your knowledge and understanding of the key elements which will be linked below.
Which Relationships Matter Most?
- Note down the important relationships connected with your work. These could be individuals, teams, or other organisations…
- Individuals (e.g. line manager, other department heads, specialists you rely on, etc.)
- Teams (e.g. Finance, HR, Sales, Legal, etc.)
- Other Organisations (e.g. Suppliers, Outsource Providers, Customers)
- Now take your pen and highlight those which are the most important to your success and use a different mark to indicate those which are most in need of improvement.
- Decide which relationships you need to focus on improving. It might be helpful to select one simple relationship and one complex one to improve your learning. Repeat the rest of this exercise for each relationship you want to work on.
For each relationship…
- Consider the whole of the relationship and give it a score out of 10 (highest) for each theme…
- Trust and Credibility: The confidence that you can rely on each other to match delivery with expectations at both a personal and a professional level (look at the indicators).
- Communication and Influence: The confidence that everyone is able to clearly state their views, opinions and ideas with an equal opportunity to influence each other (more information).
- Problem Solving and Conflict Resolution: The willingness and ability to face the difficult issues and work to move things forward in a proactive and constructive manner (refer to the indicators).
- Think about how the other party would score each area differently. Why?
- How do other people you work with on your side of the relationship see each area? If it’s different from you, why?
- If problems are evident, what do you think the underlying causes are?
- (Optional) Invest some time and review your scores with the other party in the relationship. This can be a useful vehicle to explore together how things are going and collaborate more effectively for mutual benefit.
- What actions could you take to start to improve the relationship?
You may want to leave some of this until later if you need to do some more in-depth analysis or consultation, but no harm in provoking some early action!