Why You Must Prioritize Relationship Development To Achieve Your Goals

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This time of year, you’re likely to either be doubling down on an existing program of work or launching a new one. Either way, what you’ll find most helpful is considering all aspects of your goal and how you can leverage everything within your power to get to the end game in the most effective, efficient, and authentic way.

Looking at most goals, people consider where they are now, and where they need to get to. They start with the timeline, the resources they’ll need to employ – covering people, budgets, and so on – and they’ll think about the process that will take them to each milestone. As each checkpoint approaches, stakeholders are consulted and approvals or rejections are received.

Based on the work of our Research Institute, along with our years of partnerships with clients where we apply our research in service of achieving accretive business outcomes, we have uncovered a key lever in getting to the goal’s end game in an accelerated manner; relationships. Now, I’m not here to patronize you, and I know you already understand that relationships are important. The difference, however, is that there is a simple way to prioritize who you need to build relationships with, and how you can do that, and this is typically not considered until it’s too late and you realize you don’t have a good relationship with someone that may stop you from being successful. Quite frankly, we’ve all been there, and it sucks.

We start with an algorithm that we call the Relationship Action Plan. In essence, you identify – for a given milestone – who will either enable or block you from being successful, and then you determine the level of your Relationship Quality with them along with a measure we call Business Impact. Relationship Quality is measured on a scale of -1 (an issue exists between you that makes it hard for you to work together successfully) through to 5 (where you advocate for each other and help each other be successful). Business Impact runs on a scale of 1 to 5 and measures the level of influence the person has on any particular decision. You’d be surprised how many people think that only senior leaders and executives are the decision makers in organizations. On the contrary, some of the most influential people are not the most senior; take, for example, experts and administrative support – both can be really important in providing input to decisions, and/or, making decisions as gatekeepers for access to leaders, executives, resources, decisions, and so on. Although prevalent in organizations that are arranged in silos, it’s even more applicable in matrix organizations, and in networks aligned to outcomes, such as professional services and the gig economy.

When you’ve run the algorithm, focus on developing your relationships at the intersect between a low Relationship Quality and a high Business Impact. Why? You have negative or low quality relationships with the very people who are most able to impact your ability to be successful! And after you’ve determined who to build your relationships with, it’s time to get to work. At this point, our further research around what we call the Relational Mindsets shows that you have to lead with generosity to build meaningful, authentic relationships. The first question to ask yourself in respect of leading with generosity is, “how can I show the people that I’ve identified that I care?”, and the answer typically revolves around how you can help them be successful. When you lean in and support others, you’ll find that you develop the emotional foundation that will lead to candor, accountability, and trust – which are critical to achieving milestones, goals, and – ultimately – business results. So, wherever you are in the program lifecycle, it’s time to double down on considering your relationships. You’ll find it pays dividends in the medium to long run, as well as feeling good from a human point of view.

Through almost 20 years of research and Fortune 1000 client work, we have learned that successful business transformation is about aligning individual human behaviors with strategic priorities. Get in touch with us for a conversation about how we can help you, or to start one of our diagnostic assessments that will help you think through some of the changes you might need to make in your life, team, or organization.