In various posts on this blog, we have always stressed that success in business, as in life in general, is a result of several things done right. Nonetheless, there are a few factors that are absolutely necessary if you are to stand a good chance of succeeding in any field of endeavour. Amongst these necessary factors is your capacity to establish, develop and manage various relationships.
This refers to the personal strategy you employ to continuously and beneficially engage with your various stakeholders. As will be seen later, your personal stakeholders can variously and concurrently refer to your immediate family, friends, colleagues at place of work, business partners and associates, social club members, etc. Each of these groups have expectations of you as well as offer you rights and privileges of relating with them. It is the dexterity with which you manage these various, and often times conflicting, expectations that will determine to a large extent determine how far you will get.
One of the best principles of relationship management is as explained by adventures1 which says ‘Some of the biggest challenges in relationships come from the fact that most people enter a relationship in order to get something: In reality, the only way a relationship will last is if you see ..(it)… as a place you go to give, and not a place you go to take‘.
An irony of life is that if you willingly give, you will be willingly given.
BENEFITS OF EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT:
Concisely, the benefits of effective relationships can be grouped as follows:
Emotional Support: As human beings, we significantly perform better in life with the positive emotional support we get from the people we interact with. A sincere word of cheer in difficult times get us re-energised and back into the trenches. To get emotional support from others, we must also give them when they need it. We will briefly discuss how to offer these supports under Foundations of Efffective Relationship Management.
Intellectual Support: Positive interactions with others also enriches our intellectual capacity, as we engage each other in discourses. The more we are able to discuss with others of different backgrounds, trainings and professions, the richer our own intellectual capacities become.
Commercial Support: With a two-way emotional and intellectual supports, we also ultimately benefit from our various relationships commercially. Whilst some relationships obviously start entirely on a commercial basis and are expected to continue that way, the best you to deepen and enrich them is by going beyond that.
RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT CIRCLES:
All human beings have relationships with several others. Various groups in our lives form different circles that offer different support to us and have different legitimate expectations of us. It is critical for our wellbeing and to our chances of success that we understand each circle, its rights and expectations, as well as how it should be managed.
Friends and Family: This group generally have your best interest at heart no matter your incidental situation and circumstances. These may include your spouse, children, childhood friends, etc. They have simple expectations such as your being physically present at certain times or for certain events and in certain situations. Other times, a phone call is quite sufficient. Surprisingly, this can be very difficult for the entrepreneur, who has many other things that need to be handled within those time frames. The ‘trick’ is to ensure that you are available as much as is possible and be in contact when you must be unavoidably absent. As with other relationship circles, true and current communication is important.
Social Associates: You are also likely to have a social circle outside family and friends. These are groups that you possibly meet at religious gatherings, social clubs, etc. This is a group we often ignore but to which we can offer so much and which can also support us in ways we never envisage. Engage such groups and offer the support you can. Whenever you must be absent from such gatherings, inform the group in advance and follow up later on what happened in your absence and what decisions were made.
Business Partners and Associates: An obvious critical group of interest and importance to the entrepreneur are their business partners and associates. This is a group that entrepreneurs are most aware of. They include investors in your business, creditors, customers that buy your products; your raw materials suppliers; etc. They expect certain results from you, such as supplying quality products and paying dividends.
The entrepreneur should understand the different expectations of the various sub-groups within this circle. Work diligently to discharge your obligations to them. Seek their opinion when you need to and keep them informed regularly on the good and the bad.
FOUNDATIONS OF EFFECTIVE RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT:
To develop effective relationship management skills, the entrepreneur should undersand the foundations on which truly deep and beneficial relationships are developed and sustained.
Sincerity and Honesty: This is the cement that binds all relationships. Difficulties and challenges can always be sorted out if relationships are built on this foundation. It is therefore extremely important for the entrepreneur to be sincere, transparent and honest in all dealings with the various circles of interest that they deal with, and mentioned above. Trust saves time and effort as no party second-guesses the other or reads in-between lines on any matter under discussion.Trust is built between parties when there is sincerity and honesty in all day-to-day dealings.
Competence: Building and sustaining relationship is a two-way give-and-take interaction. After sincerity and honesty in your dealings, the next best way to develop relationships is to make sure that you are competent in what you do. The various circles expect to benefit from you and this can only be possible if you are competent in what you do. Be a good husband and father to your wife and children; be a very supportive colleague to your co-workers; be a reliable supplier to your customers; be positively involved at your monthly charity meetings. Simply put: discharge your obligations and be supportive to the best of your ability and within your realities to your circles of relationships. Confidence is built when other parties trust you and your competence.
Engagement: Linked to competence and discussed above, is the extent to which you engage your circles of relationships. Deep and beneficial relationships are built through positive engagement. This means you should, as much as is possible, be in the know of what is happening to your stakeholders. Be genuinely interested in what they are doing and what is happening to them or not. Put a call through to find out what is happening and offer a word or two of advise whenever required. The more engaged parties in a relationship are, the richer and deeper the relationship will be. What determines the depth of the engagement, however, is type (or circle) of the relationship.
Loyalty: Loyalty refers to the level of devotion, faithfulness and constancy that you demonstrate to an individual, cause, organisation or group. You have to be loyal to your circles if you are to develop mutually beneficial relationships. Note however that loyalty does not in any way mean supporting what is wrong. In fact, being loyal means correcting any member of your circles who falls short of what is expected of them. As much as we sometimes detest being told the hard and cold facts, we actually respect the people who do tell us so. Being loyal therefore means telling those we interact with the truth as we see it and respecting their legitimate final decisions.
Truly sincere relationships are the basis of success in all spheres of life. You should deliberately work to ensure that you develop appropriately relationships in which all those that interact with you will leave with a pleasant experience that will enrich them in a way and beyond their expectations.