In today's knowledge and service economy, it's generally
accepted that relationships are key; the state of your
relationships with business partners, staff, clients or customers,
suppliers and others in your stakeholder group defines the success
or failure of your business.
Combining the two concepts of health and relationship might result
in a definition of a healthy business relationship as one in which
two or more parties relate to each other in a way that provides for
the well-being and satisfaction of both. How is this state achieved
and maintained? I spoke with several colleagues who I consider
great relationship builders, and they offered the following:
In the best relationships, each party is at least equally
attentive to what he or she can give in the relationship as to what
he or she can receive. One woman, who is the CEO of a very
successful business, always asks what she can do to assist someone
when she is establishing a new relationship. She believes that by
investing in a new relationship, she is building the foundation for
a mutually-trusting and satisfactory long-term relationship.
My colleague, who is a senior human resources executive,
recommends approaching relationships in a transparent and honest
way. Even if the parties are not in agreement on a particular
point, engaging in a candid, forthright discussion honors the
relationship far more than avoiding the issue. This is especially
true when dealing with issues of performance with staff
A friend, who was a former professional athlete and is now a
well-regarded technical coach in his sport, says of relationships
between players and coaches: "It's all about trust. The
player on the field has to suspend his or her intention to question
a directive when it's provided during a game situation. This is
easy when a coach has the respect of the player, and trusts that he
has the team's best interest at heart." This sense of
trust can be transferred to the business world. There are times
that decisions must be made quickly and in the absence of full
communication. A relationship built on trust allows for this.
I sit on a board with a woman who is of Greek heritage. She
shared with me a Greek expression that roughly translates into
"everyone has at least one boiling pot on the stove at
home." This expression speaks to the multi-faceted aspects of
everyone's lives. Business colleagues are not simply clients,
suppliers or staff members; they are people, with families and
personal lives that often impact on how they might deal with you on
any given day. You just don't know what's boiling in that
pot at home. So cut them some slack, when needed.
Sometimes relationships run their course. A business contact
recently confided that his business partnership was in transition.
The duo had built a terrific firm that provided cutting edge
leadership in a fast-paced enterprise. It is a business fueled by
adrenalin, travel, late nights and long hours. While it worked for
both partners for a long period of time, one partner was
increasingly unwilling to devote the time required to such an
all-encompassing endeavor. The partners mutually acknowledged this.
They are now smoothly unwinding their partnership, with respect and
very little ego, positioning the reorganized business for the next
stage of growth.
Creating and maintaining healthy business relationships is not
unlike maintaining a healthy physical being. There must be a
conscious commitment to proactive health management, including
eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. If things go
wrong, prompt attention by a medical professional can often put
things right quickly. The same applies to your business health.
Working with advisors who proactively look out for the financial
health of your business is key. And knowing when to call in the
specialists is also part of smart financial management.
Susan Hodkinson is the Chief Operating Officer at Crowe
Soberman, where she has management responsibility for the
operations of the firm, including finance, information technology,
human resources, facilities and marketing.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
The Law Society of British Columbia’s Cloud Computing Working Group issued its Final Report on Cloud Computing on January 27, 2012, amending an earlier consultation report approved by the "Benchers" on July 15, 2011.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).