I recently worked with a smart, hard-working client who made a career mistake I see far too many other high performers make.
New to his company, he was responsible for making major changes to improve financial performance, strengthen the team, and increase market share. Given the challenges in front of him, in his first few months he kept his head down driving for results. In fact, he focused so intently on his goals that he prioritized them over investing in building relationships with key stakeholders.
With their limited exposure to him, corporate leaders began to worry because they weren't seeing results, didn’t know why, and didn’t fully understand his game plan to achieve them. And why wouldn't they worry? A lot was at stake, and they needed reassurance.
From his vantage point, he was appropriately focusing on critical business issues and thought others were communicating well enough on his behalf. Ironically, he was so results-oriented that he underestimated the importance of him personally cultivating and leveraging the very relationships that could ultimately accelerate his results.
Relationships Aren’t Nice to Have. Building Them Is a Big Part of Your Job.
So many people believe that their performance will be just as high, even when they only invest in relationship-building and networking sporadically. They may think, “Surely everyone can see how hard I’m working,” not realizing that people may be too busy to notice. Remember that the quality of your work is no guarantee that you'll get the credit you deserve, especially when others don’t know your role in achieving the results.
On the other hand, high performers know that a consistent investment in relationships will yield big dividends—stronger allies, influence, and support to get critical business results. They don’t choose between results and relationships, or make them compete against each other. They understand that the two are inextricably linked and an investment in both is necessary.
Hard work and passion can propel your career, but when coupled with an investment in key relationships, it will take you much further. So, what can you do? Here are a few ideas to build relationships and get results. Choose one of the strategies to focus on this week.
Make a list of key stakeholders. How are your relationships with them? My article "Strengthen Your Leadership by Building Relationships" shows you how to turn key people into advocates for you.
Prioritize communication with your bosses, even when things aren't going well.
Get to know your peers and look for ways you can be a resource for them. They can be valuable supporters in your corner when you seek a promotion.
Give your boss and others "strategic snapshots" of your performance. You may dislike "bragging," but sharing your results in a business-relevant way can help others.
Constantly hone your relationship-building skills. My book Show Up. Step Up. Step Out. can help you navigate the full spectrum of work relationships. You can read the first five chapters for free now.