“All lasting business is built on friendship.”
“A cardinal principle of Total Quality escapes too many managers: you cannot continuously improve interdependent systems and processes until you progressively perfect interdependent, interpersonal relationships.” ~Stephen Covey
Your relationships are one of the most fundamental tools you have to get things done. Your relationships with employees, suppliers, your peers, your boss, and customers can set you up for success, or can doom you to failure. In the course of business it is natural for some of these relationships to grow strained from time to time. It is important that we look to be a leader and repair these as soon as possible, but the first step is to recognize that there is an issue in any of these areas. To that end, start with these questions:
Who are they? Is there anyone you know who has an issue with you? Have you let anyone down or come up short on a deliverable recently? Have you needed to make decisions that were unpopular with one of these parties? Any of these could, or could not, lead to a relationship strain.
What happened? Was there a legitimate reason, were you in the wrong, or was it simply a misunderstanding? Is it personality related? Is it product related? Be sure to think about it objectively, because if you don’t address the actual problem, it could just get worse.
How can you fix it? Do you need to adjust your approach? Do you need to talk through the “why” of what occurred? Do you need to apologize? Remember to do what is right for the company/department; this always leads to success in the end. Sometimes that means being the “bigger person” when both sides shared the fault.
How soon can you fix it? Now try to fix it even sooner. Repairing the relationship and moving on helps everyone be more productive.
Often we let problems fester instead of taking the necessary action to nip it in the bud. Nothing is worse than having an issue pop up that requires the collaboration of one of these strained relationships. It is when that happens that you’ll wish you had done what you could to repair that relationship when you had the chance. Go through the steps and get to it.