“One of my workers sewed me!” says Gordon Johnsen with a frustrated look. “What happened?” I enquire. “I’m not really sure, but they are accusing me of being selfish. We couldn’t afford to pay out bonuses at the end of last year, but the company did have to replace my car two weeks ago. So now they are all over me. But they have no idea! They don’t have the tiniest clue of what I’m putting into this company, even out of my own pocket!” His eyes float around the room as if he’s looking for a solution somewhere on the walls. “That sounds like a tough situation! ” I reply, while holding back my urge to try and fix his business relationships right away. “What are you going to do?”
1. Call your employees ‘team members’
Because that is what you want them to be! You are in this mission together. You want them to take ownership and have that same heart for the business as you have. When you are able to share your passion and the value you add as a company, your team members will step up and join you in that mission. Rather than you putting out fires, your team members take ownership for their part of making the business work.
Dave Ramsey says: “If you want employees, then boss them around; if you want team members, explain why you do what you do.”
By the way: It takes 21 times of sharing your vision with your team to get them to catch where you want to go.
2. Be quick to listen
The brother of Jesus wrote these famous words: be quick to listen and slow to speak. We have two ears and one mouth. Might be a hint? If you want to build a strong relationship, listen, listen, listen!
3. Don’t assume, but if you have to, assume positive
Assumption is the number 1 killer of all relationships, especially in a cross-cultural setup like South Africa. Every person responds from their own paradigm. Your team, your competition, suppliers, and customers all view the world differently. They’ll look at your business differently. Never assume you know what the other person thinks, wants or means. Always ask. If this for some reason is not possible, assume positive.
4. Create a standard for how you do business relationships
This standard shouldn’t be just rules. It should be what you live out as leader. The sooner you get this clear for yourself, the sooner your company will benefit from it. Communicate your standards clearly with your staff. Team days, or even weekends, are an excellent way to discover together what your company standards are and how you decide to do relationships together. Make it part of your company DNA and live up to your own standards.
5. Trust, and let people know that you trust them
A lot of business happens based on trust. If you want to be more effective in your business, you’ll need to trust! In your team members’ capacity, in their passion and in their being part of the mission. “That’s risky” you might say, especially with corruption around. Well, trusting doesn’t mean being stupid. Trust happens within the boundaries of a good relationship with openness and honesty. This applies to your team, as much as it applies to your business partners, suppliers and customers.
Do you want to build better business relationships? The key is to start with your team. If the relationships in your company are strong, and every team member bought into your company mission, it will flow over in how you do business. Strong relationships are contagious!
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