Check In on Your Relationships

In October, we've been working with the theme of relationships. In our first post of the month, I challenged you to identify your most important relationships at work and focus on improving the ones that were a little rocky. How did that go for you? Using the approach below, let’s take a look at your progress:

  • First, list the priority relationship(s) you wanted to improve. For example, maybe you focused on your relationships with your boss and with one of your direct reports.

  • Next, for each person, jot down what has improved.

"My boss is taking more time to understand my ideas instead of cutting me off or multi-tasking when I speak." "My direct report has gone from complaining to me all the time to now beginning to offer some productive suggestions."

Remember, relationships take time to cultivate. Even small changes can be positive indicators. Notice what has happened as well as what doesn’t anymore. For example, you may no longer be having difficult conversations with the person.

  • Then, identify what worked. The third step is the most important one. Here, list what worked. Notice the actions you took that improved the relationship. With your boss, maybe the difference-maker was engaging in strategic self-promotion or strengthening your relationships with her trusted advisers so they could share positive feedback about you (the messenger does matter). With your direct report, maybe you saw changes start to happen when you made the effort to find out what was important to him, limit the time he was allowed to vent, and help him remove barriers in the way of his goals.

By taking the time to notice what helped you strengthen these relationships, you will more proactively put these strategies into play. In effect, these are your personal best practices and leveraging them is a powerful strategy that many often overlook.

I hope that you'll take away some new insights on your relationships from our work this month, and I challenge you to keep investing just a few minutes each week. It doesn’t have to be time consuming, but your focus on relationships should be consistent. You'll find ideas on how to do that in my new Leadership EDGE SeriesSM e-booklets "Building Influence" and "Building a Powerful Network." And remember that small steps can lead to big results!