"The first businesses to get relationships right will leave others in the dust." This is a line from Diana McLain Smith's ChangeThis manifesto Today's Trojan Horse.
We've been thinking about brand behavior and manners in social media. We have also explored how in times such as the current, relationships are even more the fundamental currency of business.
If brands are a reflection of the organization they come from - and many to a certain degree are - then, we might look at organizations and relationships inside them for indications of how they will perform.
Have you ever had a manager who treated relationships as a necessary evil? Someone who believed that work would be a whole lot more fun if it weren’t for the people? This manifesto, and McLain Smith's book Divide or Conquer, might be for you. I am putting this book in my "to read" list.
As well, there are many customer-facing functions that can benefit from understanding the central role of individual relationships in making things happen. Key relationships can make or break a company. Here's how.
The current beliefs:
- Business is (and should be) conducted rationally - best line: think of all those “elephants” in the room, all those “sacred cows,” all those “undiscussables.” Each one is a tribute to our efforts to ban subjective matters from business. They’re also a constant reminder it’s mission impossible.
- Relationships are the soft stuff - best line: we all know relationships matter. We see their effect on our ability to make good decisions or to get things done, and we feel their effect on our enthusiasm, energy, and motivation.
- People are the problem: some of them are just “assholes” - best line: relationships shape behavior at least as much as behavior shapes relationships.
- Caution! Relationships may be hazardous to your health - best line: utterly convinced
that relationship conflict is hazardous to their health and the health of their company, people
continue to avoid it and never build the competence needed to make something good come of it.
The alternative beliefs:
- Business is more rational when you factor in the non-rational - why are we hired for what we bring to the table, including our own special way of looking at things, problems, opportunities and then we are called out when we do it? The problem lies not so much in the subjectivity people bring to work but in the culturally mandated pretense they have none.
- The soft stuff is the hard stuff - if you think of yourself as an anthropologist, you will know what to do here. Watch what people actually do and to ask them what they’re feeling and thinking while they’re doing it.
- Relationships bring out the best and worst in people - the belief that most of our relationship troubles are caused by a single difficult person (and that person isn’t you) overlooks two things.
First, the idea that a person operates the same way—that is, badly—under all circumstances is quite simply wrong. Second and related to the first, relationships have the power to bring out the best and the worst in us.
- Wait! There’s more! Relationships are known to accelerate growth - Most of us believe that once character is formed, it is more or less set in stone. Not so. Recent research suggests that people are far more malleable than you think.
Why is it that there are entire bookshelves filled with advice on networking and building relationships, advice we often listen to and take, and yet we find that in our organizations Dilbert-like situations go unchallenged? Let's start with moving from our current beliefs to alternate beliefs and take it from there.