HR Insights Forum Extracts: Social cohesion and building relationships

Earlier this year, Miramar hosted the inaugural HR leadership forum which tackled the theme: “How to elevate resilience in your leadership team”. The goal of the workshop was to enable the leadership team to think more strategically around how they lead and identify specific actions and behaviours to sustainably improve teams’ performance. Some of the takeaways highlighted focussed around social cohesion and the need to build close, trusting relationships within teams and with clients. The group focussed on how executives should communicate with others and try to be cognizant of the other individual’s own stresses or emotions. Bill Lawry, CEO at Ascend, shared his top tips below to help executives with social cohesion and building trusting relationships with both teams and clients:

Be interested in the other person, not just as a client but as a whole person.
In other words treat them as human being not human doings. Remember the little things: children’s names, holiday places, hobbies, etc. and use them to make your interactions less formal and more relaxed. Listen to what they are saying and to what they are not saying (a colleague of mine says – ‘give them a jolly good listening to!’). Make sure you summarise to check understanding and to show that you were listening.

Disclose something of you as a person.
It gives opportunities to build rapport. I once won some business because a client found out we had the same breed of dog!

Be credible and reliable.
Know your stuff, do your research, tailor your approach and give them a feel for what it will be like to work with you. Furthermore, deliver what you say you will, when you say you will. This will further build and sustain their trust in you.

Be prepared to challenge.
Too often I work with people who are so conflict averse that they won’t challenge a client when they think they are making the wrong decision or being unreasonable. Clients often respect you more for standing up to them when they are out of order, or for pointing out when they are going down the wrong path, if you have their best interests at heart

Be strategic about who you are spending your time with.
We all like to spend time with people whose company we enjoy most but are these the people who can help you to achieve your business goals or work to your potential? Make sure you know who the key decision makers and influencers are in respect to achieving your business goals. Which relationships do you need to strengthen? Are you focusing your efforts in the right area of the organization?

Be honest about your relationships.
Sometimes no matter how hard you try, a relationship is not always going to work. It may be a personality clash, a perceived slight or just lack of chemistry. Learn to recognise when this is the case and focus your time and energy elsewhere. Think about assigning someone else in the organization who might be a better match for this person.


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