QUESTION 25: WHAT IF WE IDENTIFIED THE REAL CHANNEL FOR THE DELIVERY OF WORK?
In business, relationship is the channel for execution. Work is delivered in and through relationship with others, and so the quality of the relationship can often determine the quality of the output.
If our IT infrastructure is in the way of the delivery of the work, we’d throw a team on it and act immediately. We seem slow in business to consider interpersonal relationships as that critical. As humans we are, apparently, drawn together to create work, wealth and service, and are willing to invest so much of our waking hours into that activity, and yet we find it so difficult to even ‘get along’ let alone make high performance happen.
How does that breakdown occur? It starts in the mind, with how we choose to think. We hold opinions about how others acted, what they did and didn’t do. We have views on each others’ characters and competence. Experts tell us that relationships are built on behaviors, but here we can see how much of our relationship with others is sustained and reinforced through our thoughts about them.
And it doesn’t stop with thinking. We share these beliefs and judgements and interpretations in conversations with our trusted colleagues, who, most of the time, substantiate what we think. These conversations for confirmation (others might call it gossip) serve a purpose: to protect us from our complicity in what is happening around us.
How can we break out of these self-reinforcing ways of operating? What are the attitudes and skills we can bring to bear to help create more effective relationships so that better results are produced?
Again, we can start with our thinking. One of the ways business has been slow to embrace relationship as a key factor in improving project delivery has been to characterise it as ‘the soft stuff’ and to imagine that talking about improving the relationship is going to be about ‘baring our souls’ and ‘tree-hugging’. But effective business relationships are not about liking or not liking each other. If it happens as a result of the work being delivered, great. Gallup, after all, asks ‘Do you have a best friend at work?’ But both liking or not liking someone can be an excuse for being in inauthentic, dishonest relationship with them. I like them so I forgive them. I don’t like them so I don’t intervene. And that’s a business problem, not a personal one.
Identify a relationship in your workplace that isn’t operating optimally. How is that affecting a business objective or project?
Invite that other person into a conversation. Here’s a formula we recommend:
“I would like to have a conversation with you about
[this aspect of our relationship]
because I want to try and change/fix/ improve
[the problem, issue, barrier you’d both acknowledge exists].
And I want to do that because I believe it is affecting
[this business outcome].
Would you be willing to talk with me about that?”
Listen to day 25 HERE.
Love, David & Charrise