Mistake Managers Make
Most managers have been taught to believe that personal and business relationships don’t mix.
It has been proven time and time again, Leaders know that having strong personal relationships will strengthen their business relationships.
Leadership Insight #4: The Need To Build Strong Personal Relationships
I have always wondering where traditional business got the idea that it is almost criminal to have personal relationships with the people you work with every day. Now I am not saying you should have intimate relationships with the people you work with. . . we have a heard the saying “don’t $#!+ where you eat!” . . . However, what could more natural than being involved in the lives of your closest associates at work?
However, if a manager plans on management by intimidation (through fear), then of course it wouldn’t make since to make ‘friends’ with your people. In addition, maybe the managers don’t realize that his or her people are the most important ingredient to his or her own success. If you don’t realize how important your people are then it is easy to take advantage of them and see them as unrelated to your own success.
Truth About Leading People: In order to build personal relationships you need to show your people that you care.
To build long lasting relationships with your people you must master the art of communicating with them about all aspects of your business (within the legal guidelines, based on your position) and their place in it. . . Remember the only way you can let you people know how much you value their contributions is to show them and tell them.
Regardless of how talented you may be, nothing will hold you back in your career more than pathetic people skills. . . I am talking about the ability to really communicate and helping your people feel like they can talk to you without feeling you will hold it against them, it is all about TRUST!
You may feel as a manager your people mean more to you than anything else but if you cannot communicate those feelings to them, then those ‘feelings’ might as well not exist because your people will never know.
Learn to communicate your concern for your people, you cannot expect to build strong relationships without open communication. Therefore, learn to spend some face time with your people, don’t succumb to strictly using tools like email.
Truth About Leading People: Learn to live with people through the good times and the bad times.
We all know that some of the closest relationships are built during the bad times. When people are come through a tough situation together, it often builds a closeness and understanding that will doesn’t happen during the good times.
The same is true about your teams. When you dig in with your people and help them find a way to succeed when things are going bad, you will begin to build a relationship that will benefit the both the leader and the person struggling. Life is a business of momentum. In down time your people need compassion and support more than any other time. However, many ‘managers’ ignore their people when there are any signs of trouble.
When my kids are old enough (one is but the other 4 have time), my wife and I will continue to communicate our commitment to them. We have said and will continue to say, “We want you kids to know that, in your lifetime, you’re going to do something that you’re not proud of, and you’re going to make mistakes…but you can’t make a mistake that we haven’t made . . . . and we want you to know that, sometime in your life, when you’ve messed up and you’re counting on other people to help, many people will let you down. They won’t be there and believe in you when you need them. However, there’s no situation you can ever be in that you can’t count on your mom and dad. We might hurt, we might cry, we might be disappointed, but here are two people who are going to stand by you and fight with you to overcome your problems.”
I believe you need to have the same feeling about your people at work, or something very close to it. If you want to build good people in business, you need to look at what it takes to build good kids in a family… standing by them during the tough times is one of the most important elements.
If you have kids at home you understand what I mean. They go through different stages. Sometimes they’re dependent and sometimes they need their freedom. Often they do things that test your <patience, principles, traditions etc… > [depending on the day the word will be different.]
You can’t ever put yourself in a position where you cut your children off when they disappoint you. If you give up on them when everything else is going against them, they will find it difficult trusting you again. You’ll break the trust and relationship with them for a long period of time.
The same is true of your relationships with people on the job. If you stand by them and love them through their difficulties, they’ll come out of the situation eventually, and you will have built a bond with them that’s unbelievable.
You’ve got to be proud of your people when they win, and you need to tell them so. . . and care about them just as much, when they lose. Just as your kids will lose faith in you if you abandon them when they’re in trouble, your people will lose faith if you desert them during hard times. And when you’ve lost the faith and trust of your people, you are absolutely worthless as a leader.
Truth About Leading People: A leader must possess the “unconditional commitment” which is required to build long lasting personal relationships.
One of my mentors, a very successful and wise man often compares the commitment you have to your people at work with the commitment you have in a marriage relationship. He calls it “unconditional commitment.” You cannot not just retreat or give up . . .
“When you decide marry someone,” he told me, “you make the commitment to stay with them for better or worse, through good times and bad. Sometimes you get frustrated with your spouse and sometimes you’re so mad you can hardly stand it . . . That’s human nature. There are just going to be some conflicts when two people are together day in and day out.”
It would be easy to just give up the first time something doesn’t go your way, and a lot of people do. But unconditional commitment means you’re there to see it through regardless how bad. Or frustrating things can be.
“It’s got to be the same way at work.”
Now, you may be ready to say this is ‘B.S’ Ben, I can’t read this $#!+ any more. . . I am not going to read your post and blogs ever again, “There’s no way I can be committed to people who work for me like I am to my wife/husband and kids? And I sure can’t love my people at work that way. That’s too much to ask!”
Maybe it’s not easy for you. Maybe you’re not the kind of person who goes around expressing his emotions all the time. I don’t mean you have to go around saying, “I love you” to your people. All I mean is that you need to develop that same caring attitude.
Just as everyone wants to see their children succeed, great managers and leaders have a personal interest in the success or failure of their people.
Truth About Leading People: Leaders really know their people, their families, their goals, their people and their dreams.
The most important part of building personal relationships is really getting to know your people. It is hard to imagine working with someone everyday and not knowing his or her family, his spouses name, how many children they have, and so on. A person’s family is a central part of their life, and few things mean more to them than knowing that the importance of their family is recognized. The ups and downs of family life have a strong impact on business performance. If you know the families of your people, you’ll be aware when problems occur at home and you’ll be better able, as a leader, to deal with the effect of those problems on the job.
Knowing people will help you in your efforts to “build them up” as well. The closer your relationship, the better you know that person’s strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes, when one of your people is having difficulty in some area, you’ll be able to recognize the source of the problem, based on your knowledge of them as a person. Your job of training and helping to build up their strengths becomes easier, and you’re able to offer more help than you would if you barely know your people.
Truth About Leading People: One sign of a leader is they put their team’s needs before their own.
I’ve found, from my experience, that the thing people dislike most about their job is working for someone else. Almost everybody has the dream of working for themselves. That’s one of the dreams that have made the free enterprise system the most successful system in the world.
No matter what business you’re in, your people see themselves as working to improve their own future – not yours. If you want to have a successful business, your people must feel that you’re working for/with them – not that they are working for you. And it should really be that way. As a leader, your most important job is helping your people to become the best they can be and reach the absolute peak of their potential. If you’re able to do that, your business will take care of itself. No one can fail with a group of independent, motivated, excited and happy people, working hard to reach their own individual goals.
One way to show that you are putting your people first is standing up for them when the situation calls for it. Many times in my career, I have been described as demanding when is comes to achieving results and doing things right while maintaining high standards. My staff would probably say I have been firm, fair and consistent. However, one thing I never allow is negative criticism of our team by anybody outside the team. Whenever I have had a team criticized by others, I did whatever I could to oppose it. We might quarrel or disagree among ourselves, but when anything negative came from outsiders, we stick together like you wouldn’t believe. Most of my teams have been ready to go to war for each other. I believed in complete loyalty among the team members, and that has built a feeling security in the group that held us together and built a real bond among us even when times got tough.
The feeling described above (total commitment to one another) is considered invaluable in any group of people who work together, whether on a sports team or in the office. However, it’s only possible if your people are totally convinced that you are 100% for them, all the time, and will take a stand to prove it. If they think you won’t defend them when the situation calls for it, they won’t believe in you or follow you.
Truth About Leading People: Your people must feel and believe that you are right; simply being right isn’t good enough.
Years ago I witnessed a manager in one of the companies I worked for who learned this lesson the hard way. The manager was an honest, down-to-earth person. One day, one of the staff members questioned them about what they thought was an error in the way some earnings had been calculated. The difference was only a few dollars (literally no more than $5 to $10 dollars), but the manager was very upset and lost their temper when they were questioned about it.
As it turned out, the manager’s figures were correct. However, it really didn’t matter. The bad handling of the situation gave the impression that the manager was trying to pull something over on staff members, and their confidence in the manager fell to rock bottom. You see, the manager hadn’t done anything wrong, but the manager gave the impression that he had when he over-reacted to the situation. It would have been better to give up the $5 to $10 dollars in question than to lose the respect of his people.
You must always be concerned that what you do is right for your people, but you must also be concerned about how your actions appear to your people.
Your people need the strength and encouragement of a leader, but they can also use the concern and consideration of a friend. It is possible to be both. If you work on building personal relationships, your own enjoyment of your work will increase when the group of people you work with are also people you know and like.
P.S. If you like this blog, share it on your social network, Google+, retweet and comment below. . . you can always find me on Facebook.
P.P.S. Subscribe and you will be updated as I continue to provide helpful content from lessons learned.