If you’re really honest, is there somebody in your organisation who you actively avoid working alongside?
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been exploring the importance of relationship capital in our member webinars and in our recent blog Why Nurturing Relationships Has The Power To Transform Your Organisation.
We know that people buy from people, whether they’re investing in products, services or ideas, but do you appreciate how much people try to dodge peers, colleagues or bosses that they find difficult to understand?
When I worked in Investment Banking in the nineties, information technology was fairly new and novel. If there were any problems, we called the IT support desk and spoke to our colleagues Ben or Gary. Ben effortlessly made every problem disappear. Gary, on the other hand, would huff and puff, and what might have once been a small issue suddenly felt incredibly frustrating.
I actively sought Ben’s help, and occasionally dropped the call if Gary answered the phone.
Think about how you are as a senior leader or a mid-level executive: are you more like Ben or Gary? Do you make it easy for your peers and colleagues to work with you and thrive?
When you use long-winded explanations you destroy relationship capital. We want to attract people to us, not push them away.
In a world that seems busier than ever, people gravitate towards simple and straightforward communication. The best teachers are skilled at imparting knowledge quickly and easily.
Here are seven ways that you and your organisation can build relationship capital so that you can go on to achieve more, win more business and enjoy the results.
-1- Consider your audience
Think about the information that’s appropriate for your intended audience. Does your language need to be friendly or formal? What do they need to know? What do they want to know? Tell them.
-2- Don’t assume knowledge – share a top-level view
Even if you have been working on a project with specific team members for a while, it’s useful to share a top-level view of it (it might only be one sentence), before diving into detail; this serves as a timely reminder of the end goal. Avoid getting lost in minutiae. If you aren’t certain that the person you are talking to is following your explanation, provide more information or signpost them to relevant resources or support.
-3- Keep all communication simple and free from jargon
Would you prefer to hone your sporting skills with former tennis professional Roger Federer and gymnast Simone Biles, or with two people who made their sport arduous rather than a fine art?
Human beings actively turn away from people who make projects or tasks seem hard; use clear, jargon-free language.
-4 Provide quick answers to questions
Do you remember our recent blog where we talked about the benefits of five-minute favours? “Provide quick answers” is based on the same principle. Your peers and colleagues need information that helps them to progress what they are working on. Even if your answer is that you don’t know and you refer them to somebody else, that is more helpful than not answering or going into detail about why you can’t help them. When you provide quick answers, you keep the ball rolling.
-5- Share a shortcut – break everything down into two to three steps
Busy people feel enormous relief when you break something down into bite-size chunks. It helps them take stock of their current situation and take progressive action. Everybody likes a shortcut that doesn’t compromise quality.
Number your points or answers (or use bullet points) to queries so that people can quickly identify the parts that meet their needs, and the sections that still require support.
-6- Be engaging and approachable
Clear communication and solid working dynamics are a real catalyst for growth, productivity and profitability. If you engage your readers (when using email) or listeners (during a presentation or meeting) and let them know that you are available for additional support to help progress a project, you get faster results. People will thrive when they can sense your enthusiasm and commitment, and it’s empowering for them to know that more support is available if they need it.
-7- Include a summary
It’s often said that you should tell people what you’re going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. People spend hours every day on work emails; if you can include an executive summary that provides the information they need in a nutshell, you will build vital relationship capital.
Gain a fresh perspective
Now ask yourself: if the person you thought of earlier, when I asked who you avoid in the workplace, followed the seven points laid out above, would you want to work with them now? That’s the power of relationship capital.
When you build on it, your colleagues will continue to evolve in their personal and professional lives; both of which support you and your organisation to thrive and to be recognised as the go-to people, because you take the stress out of everything and make it look easy.
Now think of someone you know who excels at building relationship capital: which of the seven steps do they excel at? With this knowledge, what might you do differently or encourage your colleagues or peers to do differently?
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