People often assume that good relationships should be easy. In reality all great relationships require effort.
Establishing and maintaining great relationships with stakeholders requires consistent energy and focus.
But are you driving the right amount of energy and deploying the right type of focus?
It’s hard to know the answer to that question if you don’t understand your stakeholders and the type of relationship you have with them.
Ask yourself: Do I build relationships that are short term and transactional, or long term and sustained?
Transactional relationships are by nature short term, as the focus is solely on what you gain from the interaction. The interaction is all about your needs and gains.
In contrast, sustained relationships are where both parties see value in working together and all involved gain (in some way) from the interaction. It may mean, for example, that the outcome or benefit achieved is shared in some way.
In both your professional and personal life you’ll come across these types of relationships. However, it’s taking the long term approach that has the most positive impact on your career, life and overall well-being.
When you take a long term view you are:
- Genuinely interested in understanding the other person
- Committed to building collaborative relationships
- Recognising that relationships require ‘give’ and ‘take’
- Willing to give a person the benefit of the doubt and assume their intent is good
- Naturally curious about a person’s perspective and welcome diversity of opinion
- Consistent in your interactions and transparent about your intent
All these factors form the foundation for a trusted relationship, which is at the core of all successful, long term relationships.
As Stephen Covey said: “When the trust account is high, communication is easy, instant, and effective.”
The second step is to critically examine the effectiveness of your network. Take the time to map out your stakeholder network considering:
- Who do you engage with and what’s the nature of the engagement in terms of frequency and effectiveness?
- Where are the gaps and pain points in your network?
- Who are the supporters and detractors in your network?
- Who are the people of influence and power, and what’s your relationship with them?
- Who are the connectors in your network (these are people who have a strong network and are good at connecting people together)?
Once you’ve done this it becomes easier to know where you need to focus your energy. And that’s about nurture. You need to nurture your stakeholders as they play a critical role in helping to ensure your future success.
Change happens. Make it work for you.
Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert and founder of Change Meridian. Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’.