“Relationships take time, but without that effort, you’ll never get the results you want.” — Misti Burmeister
With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, most of us have relationships on the brain. But consider this: Have you ever met a new love interest and immediately trusted and adored him or her so much that you would do anything that person asked?
I’m sure “love at first sight” happens, but most meaningful, lasting relationships don’t develop overnight. They require a bit of courting, getting past the discomfort of things like intrusive gas bubbles, and being real with each other.
The same is true with our employees (and colleagues, bosses, customers, etc.).
Case in point: Snuggled in the corner of a tiny coffee shop in Columbia, Maryland, I listened as Kate shared about the last 15 months of her life.
While serving in a leadership role for a major technology company, Kate found herself frustrated with a lack of meaning (and an abundance of “jerks”) in her work.
“They gave me enough work for three people, told me I’m too blunt, and wanted me to kindly ask my team to do what they’re supposed to do,” Kate said with a palpable irritation.
Exhausted from being … well, exhausted, she decided, “Screw this, I’m going to travel.”
Having saved just enough money to buy airline tickets, stay in hostels, and eat, Kate set out for 15 months of exploration.
During her stay in the Philippines, she visited the same bakery every morning. “At first, they sorta ignored me,” Kate told me. “But after three days, they started asking me questions and getting to know me.”
Kate’s face glowed as she talked about this bakery and the people she met there. “Within a couple of weeks, they were introducing me to each other and chatting with me like we were friends,” she said. “It was so nice.”
With this in mind, I asked Kate to remind me why she failed in her leadership position.
“My team wouldn’t do their jobs,” she said. “My boss told me I needed to go to my direct reports and say, ‘We have a problem. This thing needs to be done. Do you know who can help me get it done?’”
Apparently Kate’s sticky notes saying, “Do this; it’s your job,” weren’t producing the results she needed.
Curious, I asked what might have happened if she had approached those business relationships the same way she did with the folks in the Filipino bakery.
“Those relationships took time!” she said, with a look of exasperation.
Yes, relationships take time, but without that effort, you’ll never get the results you want. People buy from people they know, like and trust. When you’re in sales, they’re buying your products and/or services. When you’re a leader, they’re buying into your ideas, integrity and confidence. And they’re buying into your belief in them.
Building meaningful, trusting relationships also requires authenticity. Be your curious, authentic self. Get to know people because you find them interesting, because you share values, and because both of your lives will be better for it.
Take this approach with your team, and they’ll be happy to help you (and the company) succeed.
Join the Conversation: How do you intentionally develop and maintain great relationships with your team?
Misti Burmeister, best-selling author of From Boomers to Bloggers: Success Strategies Across Generations, Hidden Heroes and Power Suck.