Many leaders don’t take the time to nurture relationships with their stakeholders. Making the effort to do that that will develop the relationships necessary for their – and their organization’s – success.
I often hear from leaders that they have higher priorities on their plate than making connections with others. The truth is that things don’t get done if you don’t connect to the people who are contributing to those deadlines and bottom-lines. Why would others care about you and the organizational initiatives that you’re responsible for if you don’t show that you appreciate and value their contributions?
There are so many things that you can do to foster amazing, supportive relationships in a small amount of time!
Consider the following that could be done in 10 minutes or less:
Tell them what they’re doing well: Your stakeholders are weary of critical feedback. Try watching for what others are doing well and tell them what you notice for a change!
Write a note of thanks: Handwritten is best but even an email thanking someone for their support, a kindness, or an extra effort will go a long way to building a relationship.
Encourage them when they’re down: Everyone needs a little extra “I know you can do it!” from time to time. Watch for your opportunity to encourage others.
Coach them when they’re stuck: Sometimes, it only takes a minute and to ask, “What would you do if you weren’t stuck (afraid, angry, upset)?” or “How can I help?” to get someone unstuck.
Let them know you’re thinking of them: Has someone been absent from work/your life for a while? Let them know you are thinking of them.
Let them talk: Ten minutes of listening to someone goes a lot further in creating a relationship than talking to them. Just listen to them, even if you disagree.
Ask them about their family, their history, or their hobbies: When you learn a little more about their life outside of work, you have something to start the next conversation that will continue to foster your relationship.
Ask them a great question that will make them think: “What are you really good at?”, “What makes you happiest at work?”, or “Who can help you?”. Ask questions that are like a small wrapped package, which when unwrapped provide insight they didn’t know they had.
Be present with them: Sometimes, focused attention on someone who needs it is the best thing you can do for your relationship. Make it about them and choose to be completely present to them.
See them in person or pick up the phone: Email is overrated and often misunderstood. Walk to their office, or if they are too far away, pick up the phone for a conversation. These are better ways to handle sticky subjects or smooth over misunderstandings.
Certainly there are times when you need to just sit down and take the time for a long conversation. You can also nurture important work relationships in very little time between all those other important things you do. (And by the way, don’t you need good, strong relationships to help you get those important things done?).
More From Mary Jo Asmus
Mary Jo Asmus is an executive/leadership coach whose work spans decades of making a difference in the lives of hundreds of executives, leaders and teams in Fortune 500, mid- and small- sized business, governments and nonprofits. She focuses on facilitating individuals and teams from first-line supervisor to the C-suite to create, develop, and influence the relationships that can make them extraordinary.