As we go through more things and acquire more knowledge, we realize that longevity is not always a constant. Change is not always a bad thing. It can mean that progress is being made. But with change as an ever-present constant, what does it take to develop those productive, satisfying, and enduring relationships that make a business successful?
When we reflect on those people whose professional paths have crossed ours over the years, can we even remember how those relationships started? Did they evolve with purpose and strength or develop into an odd personality-dance? How would our professional relationships progress if we considered every new business contact as a potential long-term colleague, client or vendor?
What goes into creating a successful long-term professional relationship?
Vision: While the vision of working with others develops over time, and the needs of our clients change, consistently work at developing a partnership.
Communicate, Communicate, and Communicate: There is no such thing as communicating too much. Not just year-end meetings, but mid-year check-ins, next –year goal setting meetings and regular periodic update meetings should be on the calendar. You can plan for pre-project, mid-project, and post-project checkpoints too.
Add Value: Rather than transactional relationships, help others solve problems while adding perspective.
Deadlines Matter: Even when it appears that no one really cares about when something is due or promised for, deadlines are and should be treated as sacred. There should never be a question about honoring a commitment. While there may be times when a deadline must be re-negotiated, it shouldn’t be at the last minute.
Tell the Truth: He honest. Even if something is not up to standard, when the outcome or the process has fallen short and when it has surpassed expectations.
No Surprises: Happy surprises like coming in under budget, signing on a new client, or surpassing expected outcomes are always welcome. But rarely are surprises at work a good thing. When problems come into view, share the information – sooner rather than later.
Likes and Dislikes: Get to know someone’s (employee, Board Member, manager, client) preferences. Regardless of the position they hold, people are first and foremost people who are working together toward a goal. The more you can accommodate preferences and mutually support those goals, the stronger the bond.
Reward: Celebrate! Appreciate the role each other has played in the outcome and over the years, show that you are grateful for the many opportunities.
Remember why working with someone has been successful and what made it work well. It allows you a better chance of replicating that success in the future.
Joni Daniels is Principal of Daniels & Associates, a management consulting practice that specializes in developing people in the areas of leadership and management, interpersonal effectiveness and efficiency, skill- building, and organizational development interventions. With over 30 years of experience, she is a sought after resource for Fortune 500 clients, professional organizations, higher education, media outlets and business publications. Joni can be reached at http://jonidaniels.com