Audit These Three Key Relationships at Work
When's the last time you evaluated your relationships at work? Great leaders know that their success hinges on their ability to establish and nurture their professional relationships. Meanwhile, there are some leaders that overlook or don’t get why the quality or effectiveness of these relationships should be a Vital Factor—one of their top leadership responsibilities. For instance, have you ever worked for a boss who treated you like you were just a number, not a person? Most of us have—and that’s exactly the type of leader you do not want to model! To avoid this pitfall, periodically assess how you’re doing in this area of your responsibility. If your professional relationships could use strengthening, commit to some corrective action and watch the impact of your influence grow.
Pay particular attention to your professional relationships with…
1. Your boss
If you report to another leader or a group of them, part of your job is to “manage up.” That means working in a way that benefits both you and your boss (or others to whom you report). Here are some questions you can ask to determine whether your relationship is as strong as it could be.
- How is our communication—what’s working, what’s not? Why not?
- How well do I understand my boss’s expectations of me? What may I not know that he/she expects of me? How well am I meeting these expectations?
- How influential am I on my boss? Is it enough? Can I enhance my influence?
- What do I know about my performance? What needs to improve—is it easy to find out or not?
- How well do I rate myself compared to my peers in regard to managing up?
2. Your colleagues
This particular group includes those on your high-profile project team, people who sit around you in your particular area of the office, fellow employees, or even co-leaders within your organization. Explore your relationships here and ask the following questions to determine ways that you can make those better.
- Am I someone they can rely on—how often have I kept my word versus let people down?
- What’s my sphere of influence on these people? Small or great? How could it be more effective? Do people listen to my ideas and take me seriously?
- Are people drawn to me or do I find myself struggling to connect or attract conversation and collaboration?
- Where do I bring value? Do people know what that value is? Do I tend to keep it to myself if they don’t notice?
- Do my colleagues turn to me for coaching, advice or guidance? How could I make myself more available to help? How often do people ask me for help versus others?
3. Your vendors
From personnel to products and services, there’s a lot of outsourcing going on in our modern world. Yet the relationships we have with our vendors are commonly taken for granted, overlooked altogether, or treated with ambiguity—and any of and all this is a mistake. Today, trusted vendors are often major partners in a company’s success. They provide great, even hidden value (e.g., free ideas, access to networks, resources, etc.) when treated with mutual respect. If it’s been a while since you evaluated the strength of your vendor relationships, use the following questions to determine where they’re at and how they can be improved.
- Do we have a solid, two-way communication loop that’s open and full of transparency? How could I communicate better?
- How well do we understand each other’s roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Have we always honored our agreements and commitments?
- Do I have habits that create roadblocks or inefficiencies for this partner-vendor?
- Do we have a good, timely process for discussing problems and arriving at solutions?
- How strongly does this partner-vendor feel like we work as a team, enabling each other’s success? What dynamic of our teamwork could be stronger?
What are some other things that you can do to improve your relationship with a boss, colleague or vendor?