People-first Relationship Building

In this article, Naomi Karten asks some great questions in regards to how the relationships that exist on your teams and in your company were formed. Learn some tricks to creating healthy, productive, and rewarding relationships from the very start, rather than having to repair them down the road.

When a man named Gary started work at a new company, he went to the technical support group and introduced himself. They chatted and had a few laughs. In the process, they came to know him before he needed their help, and they in turn had a chance to explain their services to him.

Members of the group said this was the first time anyone had ever approached them like this. Most often, they explained, employees were oblivious to the group's existence until they had a problem.

By connecting with the tech support staff as people first and sources of assistance only later, Gary developed an excellent relationship with them. Unlike many people, he recognized that win-win relationships develop neither automatically nor instantaneously. He appreciated that a relationship stands a better chance of developing smoothly and amicably if the first contact isn't in the form of "Gimme, gimme" or "I need it yesterday" or "Help! I'm stuck!!"

Gary's actions raise some intriguing questions:

  • When a manager joins your company, do you introduce yourself, describe your services, and seek ways you can be of assistance? Do you proactively establish a relationship that may serve both of you well later on?
  • When an employee moves into a management position, or a manager transfers from one department to another, do you stop by and suggest ways you might be able to help smooth that transition? Do you use the individual's new role as an opportunity to initiate a new relationship or, if you already knew each other, to strengthen your existing relationship?
  • When you joined your company, did you visit other departments to introduce yourself and learn a little about what they do? If not, can you do so the next time you change positions or companies? And if so, can you do so now with departments you're not yet familiar with? Can you also take steps to develop a meeting of the minds with those in nearby boxes on your organization chart?

Forging relationships is an active process that doesn't happen independently of someone paving the way. If you take the initiative to get to know those who may eventually have a bearing on your success, and if you do so at a time that's unpressured by I-need-it-now demands, you'll build goodwill that can serve you well when you need it most.

By dropping by, Gary set a precedent with the technical support group. In doing so, he developed an excellent relationship with the members of that group. He came to understand their pressures and priorities. They, in turn, became eager to support him and ensure that he didn't get lost amidst the million other demands on their time.

Focus on people-first relationship building. Consider dropping by to say hello.

User Comments

Anonymous's picture

I absolutely agree that relationship building is so important in all aspects of life. Treating each other with respect, recognizing and appreciating the talents and kindnesses of others will help pave the way to strong team environments. Thanks for this reminder.

November 3, 2009 - 8:18pm
Anonymous's picture

Yvette, thanks for your comment, especially your emphasis on respect and kindness. You are right -- it's not just in the workplace that this matters, but in all aspects of life.

November 3, 2009 - 8:18pm
Anonymous's picture

Roy, schmoozing with the sound technician. Interesting! You're right about ITIL (and other methodologies) serving a useful purpose, but sometimes in the process interfering with building and maintaining relationships. I find that so often people who depend on each other don't communicate at all except in the context of a specific problem or project. As a result, they don't get to know each other, and molehills often turn into mountains before important issues get addressed. The key to solving an awful lot of problems in organizations is getting people to talk to each other.

November 13, 2009 - 2:08am

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