How to build great business relationships

July 2023

The most successful businesses understand that every solution and success can be created and found through partnerships and mutually dependent working relationships, particularly if your business operates internationally and cross culturally.

Make the effort to cultivate great relationships and you will create something special in your company: loyalty, trust, and a passion for your cause. Without these relationships, your business may depend on price, a transactional and impersonal approach to relationships, and people’s changing preferences.

Currently, there are three key challenges facing businesses around the world:

1. recruiting and retaining skilled staff
2. communicating problems while preserving a sense of community in a mixed global environment
3. managing cash flow and financial problems while seeking to maximise returns on investment.

Four ways to cultivate great relationships with clients and your team

1. Remember that you are involved in three relationships each day: with yourself, your people, and your environment. Develop the habit of self-analysing problems through these three lenses. You can do this using self-reflection, by improving your communication skills through self-study and Continuing Professional Development events, and environmentally through your CSR and ESG strategies and activities. When making strategic decisions, always consider the impact on yourself, your team and your environment.

2. One of the biggest challenges to building and maintaining great relationships is dealing with the consistent uncertainty of global business and with the ever-changing dynamics of relationships.

Use regular self-reflection questions and statements such as these to help to stabilise and focus your mind:

• How can I work with this?
• What is my plan to move forward?
• Is it reasonable or realistic to expect this?
• How can I show love today?
• I am an adult; I can handle whatever happens
• Not everything will go how I would like
• Not everyone needs to like me
• I will start from what is possible

Regularly repeating self-reflective questions and statements such as these will calm your mind. This allows you to present yourself to others as calm, consistent, and possessing a can-do attitude, motivating them by setting a positive example.

3. Raise your standards in your relationships by asking yourself these open-ended questions:

• how can I treat my people better?
• how can I establish boundaries and keep them in place for the good of me and my people?

The first question will remind you to keep raising the bar to be considerate and caring towards others: people know and appreciate when you are making the extra effort for them. The second question will help you and your team avoid burning out and spending too much time working in an always-on mindset that can drain both the quality and productivity of your work.

4. Take a long-term view – think five-to-ten years ahead. What does this look like?

Will a current problem be resolved by then? Very often, they will be. This long-term view will allow you to feel calmer, react less and bring better energy and presence into how you interact with others. Technology is usually efficient and reliable, but we are not machines. You must give your people time to develop; be brave and empathetic enough to let them make mistakes. If you don’t, you may create pressure for your people who might feel that their position becomes untenable. A great deal of people who resign their positions do so not because of money but because of poorly communicated expectations, an unsupportive company culture, and a lack of professional support and development.

It takes time and patience to create something valuable, including people. Allow them the time and space to grow with you.

Next steps

Here is a simple three-step process to help you to implement these suggestions into your company culture:

1. decide which of these four techniques you are going to implement and tell your leadership teams to hold you accountable

2. give yourself a measured time frame to implement it, perhaps ninety days, and consider how it could provide a boost for one of this year’s strategic goals

3. think ahead, how will you know if it is successful? What kind of improvements or results would you expect to see? Are there visible metrics and numbers on your KPIs? Is it an improved retention rate of your staff? A better morale? Track your progress and feedback with your leadership teams to set the next steps for future success.

Implementing these techniques can create positive and tangible successes that can help with any recruitment and retention, community building, and cash flow issues you might have. There is no limit to how well we can treat each other. Enjoy the possibilities that this offers you and your people, and I wish you every success.

About the author

Michael Quigley
Preston, UK

Michael is a former primary school teacher with extensive experience of teaching, coaching, leading and team membership. He is a published author and regular blogger. His life-long passion for and interest in fitness, wellbeing and growing people has led him to building online professional and personal development courses with his company Kataholos.

Michael is experienced in public speaking, delivering for both the public and private sector regionally, nationally and internationally. A regular speaker for Russell Bedford, Michael will be delivering leadership material at the 40th Russell Bedford Annual Global Conference in October 2023 in Montreal, Canada.

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