Relationships are complicated, right? So let’s break this down a bit. Working relationships are not so much about whether we go out to dinner together after the workday, but more about mutual commitment. If you and I are committed to each other, we are more likely to support each other, hold each other accountable and pull in the same direction to accomplish our goals. Trusted relationships can become a powerful force for good in an organization, as more people moving together in the same direction will get there fast. People pulling and pushing against one another will never get there at all. I need you, and you need me, to be successful.
The single most important relationship-building tool is frequent and honest two-way conversation. Great leaders insist on a regular and honest exchange of information and teach their team members also to insist on it. Without this exchange, the conversations that aren’t had, those missed conversations, become an invisible dark force that inhibits relationships.
Imagine all of the conversations that you would need to have with a colleague on a cross-functional project. When the two of you come together, each with expertise in your respective functional area, you have to transcend your expertise and complete something larger than both of you. Combining your skills, personalities, behaviors, approaches and knowledge for the greater good of a successful project can be a feat that would challenge the Yoda in all of us. A large dose of conversation is the secret ingredient to achieve something that is magical and effective.
In order to develop a great working relationship, you have to be committed to staying in conversation with someone even when the going gets tough - even when you show up in your functional cape and forget your team wardrobe. Committing to each other’s success in order for the relationship to work means someone might have to give more at times than the other. Sometimes you have to adapt behavior to show up in a way that invites participation from the other. Sometimes it means being willing to apologize when you don’t uphold your commitments.
Use the force of two-way conversations and mutual commitment. Learn how to build strong working relationships where success belongs to everyone involved.