Want Efficient Execution? Make Relationship Building an Explicit Priority

user Andrew Blum
calendar

All of the clients that Trium works with have one goal: improve business performance. Sometimes that work focuses on developing clear and better strategies, aligning leadership teams, supporting transformation initiatives – all important focus areas, but none of these things succeed without strong, trust-based relationships. That’s right, relationships – the fuel that enables all other things to occur productively. The absence of trust-based relationships makes execution at best, inefficient, and at worst, nearly impossible.

Nearly everyone agrees with this premise. Yet, when you look at the focus of various business activities, meetings, etc. very few organizations have any specific strategy or process for building and managing relationships. In fact, they view it as a natural outcome of simply doing the other things, but it isn’t. Most people know how to do their jobs, but very few people know how to do their jobs together. You can hire the most brilliant people in the world, but if they don’t know how to develop and manage relationships, and if they don’t see that as a critical priority, it’s amazing how many execution challenges result.

What is a Relationship?

Despite these obvious truths, what is most interesting is that few leaders even have a clear definition of “relationship” or an understanding of how relationships are built or undermined. Many leaders assume that relationships are built on trust and intimacy, but that’s backwards. Trust and intimacy are outputs of relationship, not inputs.

At Trium, we define relationship as a condition of reality in which 3 things are present and balanced: you, me, and our shared conditions. It requires that I be authentic, you be empathic and that we be accurate about our shared conditions. Very often, when there is friction in the system, the roots of that friction lie in one of these variables: someone is not being authentic, someone is not being empathetic, and perhaps most often, people are operating with very different assumptions about the conditions they are sharing. When this occurs, the feeling is most easily described as discord.

This doesn’t mean that all teammates need to be best friends, or that office romances are the key to success. In fact, a company culture that respects boundaries while promoting shared experiences and shared values is the one that best facilitates the types of strong working relationships I’m advocating. Those are the relationships that enable colleagues – and companies – to “find the yes” that everyone is seeking!

Relationship by Design

Building trust-based relationships requires a distinct business cadence. Very different from strategy or operational review meetings, a relationship cadence is slower, has few agenda items and only one intent – for all parties to see and be seen. A relationship-building meeting or process has three primary components:

  • Get present – that means no iPhones, no open laptops and often a short mindfulness process to get people “in” the room.
  • Get connected – people naturally connect when they understand the context that people are holding and when they see and recognize that all of us are facing almost identical challenges.
  • Reflect and commit – understanding what is happening with others is helpful, but that understanding must translate into insights and actions.

The essence of relationship, in addition to the above, is the simple process of making and keeping commitments so that your interactions and intentions come from a place of trust and truth.

For example, at Trium, we literally have a relationship meeting where we set aside time on a weekly basis to check in with one another as a team. This often takes the form of each team member spending a few minutes sharing one thing that is present for them both personally and professionally. In simply answering those questions, sitting in those moments, and listening to our colleagues, we achieve a true sense of relationship and connection. People suddenly become aware that everyone of us is a full human being with aspirations and frustrations, strengths and weaknesses, and often, real personal challenges at home that are affecting how they are showing up at the office. This type of dialogue has the power to fundamentally shift the dynamics of a team and organization.

The Real Payoff

This process sounds incredibly simple – and it is – but it takes time. As you invest this time, you’ll notice that new skills, new muscles, and new insights about the system begin to develop. Slowly but surely, formerly antagonistic colleagues learn how to listen rather than react when they are triggered… how to resolve conflicts without escalating them… how to bring a responsible, accountable mindset to the solution as opposed to just describing the problem. In essence, what people learn to do is “relate to” as opposed to “talk at” each other.

A disciplined relationship cadence ensures that teammates stay connected. This prevents a whole realm of issues associated with disconnection. Information flows freely, people feel valued and understood, trust-based relationships thrive, interpersonal conflicts diminish, and people have time to focus on actual business.

Back to TriumIQ

Let’s Talk

Contact Us

Trium IQ

Bold Action in the Face of Ambiguity: How to Reset Strategy in a Post-Coronavirus World

With the economy grinding to a halt for an unknown duration, businesses are in full crisis-response mode….

Read

Leadership Development: The Key to a Successful Program Isn’t What You Think

A version of this article was originally published in Consulting Magazine. Harriet Tubman was an unintended but…

Read

Virtual Meetings: 5 Strategies for Maintaining Leadership Team Effectiveness When You Need it Most

Facing coronavirus, as a leader you’re being challenged to navigate an ultra-complex landscape of reduced demand and/or…

Read

Leading Through Volatility…Is Your Strategy Ready?

A global health crisis, border closures, virtual workforces, quarantined countries, fluctuating interest rates, online education, sporting events…

Read

Building Community in the Unlikeliest of Groups: Breaking Barriers from the Inside Out

This article was originally published in Thrive Global. Ex-cons…successful entrepreneurs and businesspeople. Mutually exclusive? Irreconcilably different? A…

Read

Thriving in Uncertain Times: Lessons from Marcus Aurelius

It’s said that we are living in a VUCA world. V.U.C.A. is a military term that stands…

Read

It’s Time for No-Regrets Moves

It’s not hard to get people to agree with the general perspective that the world seems especially…

Read

The Art of Strategic Narratives: Story building

The klieg lights have been shining on storytelling as a leadership capability for quite a while now….

Read

Want to Be a Great Leader? Be a Great Coach

This piece was written by Andrew Blum and originally published on Forbes. It’s no secret that the…

Read

The Most Fundamental Act of Leadership

What is the most fundamental act of leadership? There are so many ways to answer this question….

Read

Are Narratives Working for Your Company?

Recently, I met with a CEO who asked me what I thought of his company’s narrative. When…

Read

The Trium Group Partners with Murad Executives and Former Prison Inmates to Explore Powerful Leadership Development

Business leaders from Murad engage in highly impactful workshop – and leave equipped to become living models…

Read

Catalyzing Next Level Leadership to Drive Change

This article by Mina Muraki was originally published in Consulting Magazine. Change is the new norm in…

Read
structure

VIDEO | Clarity Creates Connection

Trium CEO, Andrew Blum’s latest video on how greater clarity can foster deeper connection. width=”560″ height=”315″ frameborder=”0″…

Watch

Clear Strategies in an Unclear World

Nearly every time I talk with CEOs about their strategic planning process, I hear the same story:…

Read

Men: How to Not Get Triggered by Conversations About Gender

This article by Will Harper was originally published in Leadership Excellence. As a society, we are in the…

Read