Interactions that Matter

“The place to building any relationship is inside ourselves, inside our circle of influence, and our character.”.

Stephen R. Covey

Relationship building has been a word for thought and emphasis. But building relationships that matter is an art. Most of us believe that setting objectives and achieving them through the opportunities we have must be our mission. This is often defined as “goal-setting”. But we don’t realize that our goals are influenced by our relationships. The importance of relationship-building is backed by research. Studies show that social connections play a central role in fostering a sense of purpose and wellbeing at both work and life. They also impact the bottom line by:

  • Instilling effective management of social capital within organizations
  • Facilitating learning and knowledge sharing
  • Increasing employee retention and engagement
  • Reducing burnout
  • Nurturing innovation
  • Improving employee and organizational performance

The Connected Commons research initiative explored the link between personal networks and professional success by conducting surveys with hundreds of respondents. Most respondents stated that their companies have no idea of the employees’ personal priorities. The research concluded that employees who are more devoted to their work are the ones whose personal and professional priorities are sorted and achieve a balance between life and work. The research suggests organizations to start monitoring employee calendars to understand their occupancy at work and how best the company is helping them to cope with issues in their personal life. This practice, as the research suggests, will build a bridge of trust and commitment between the employee and the company.

Although this strategy seems daunting, it works great results for employee retention, low attrition rate, and employee ownership, especially with the senior executives in the organization. Senior executives have a greater scope to build long-lasting relationships because of their bandwidth of interactions and meetings. A channel to build strong personal relationships in the network will only help senior executives create a personal navigation system. This repository of personal, yet professional relationships will help people in the leadership org to prioritize their goals and maintain networks to achieve them.

Discovering your North Star

Senior executives are inevitably busy. Staying busy is not easy unless one’s schedule is not streamlined most conveniently. Discovering one’s North Star is finding the one single objective that syncs with the vision, and steering interactions in a way that complements the objective. Thought leaders and authors devised several strategies to make this possible. Calendar optimization is one of them. It helps busy executives shortlist professional and personal interactions that create value. Leaders and senior executives may ask the following questions to gauge their interactions.

  • Will the interaction bring me closer to my objective?
  • Are my existing meetings and interactions pushing me away from my vision?
  • Am I collaborating with people who share my vision and can show me new ways to achieve it?
  • What kind of mindsets do I like interacting with- calm, insightful, analytical, technical, loud, or ambiguous?

These questions help in considering interactions that are fulfilling, motivating, and filled with purpose. Upon discovering the North Star objective, one should start being intentional about spending time in meetings. This exercise helps identify meetings that deplete time or drift the long-term objective away from us. It helps senior executives build a brain trust that offers new perspectives with experts who fill specific knowledge gaps.

Relationships Outside Work

Research shows that successful people thrive in at least one or two networks outside work. It suggests leaders pick an activity that they want to invest time in and work towards achieving it with a group of like-minded individuals. Fortunately, I along with my extended family at Feuji have been able to establish a strong community supporting and working towards societal well-being. The Feuji Foundation adopted a village in southern India and is committed to empowering it with several initiatives. Our team at Costa Rica is enthusiastic about Corporate Social Responsibility and participates in several activities that give back to society.

Making time for commitments outside work is not just fulfilling but helps sustain our mental energy and physical wellbeing. Sustainable relationships outside work broaden one’s perspective of self-identity and create a separate accomplished world, independent of the achievements and failures at work.

Time for Self

Besides anchoring on enriching sustainable relationships, one must gauge time for productivity at work and life. A few of us can control our schedules. The ones that can control must make time for self. Research states that people invested in knowledge sharing spend 85 percent of their time in meetings, emails, phone calls, and collaborations with benefit groups. This is called collaborative overload. Collaborative overload can be reduced to a great extent by keeping the meeting goals clear to all participants, circulating meeting agendas, preparing meeting notes, and tracking action points from the discussion.

This exercise creates time for the activities that bring us closer to our long-term objectives, regardless of our rank at work. These are the activities that implement the action points from the meetings. Other common strategies include creating rules on the mailbox that ease the organization of emails, blocking time on the calendar for energy breaks and holidays, and creating hard stops at the end of the day.

Segregation of work, activities outside work, and time for self safeguards one’s priorities from someone else’s dictatorship. In simple words, our schedule will be in our control! It creates ownership and fosters a commitment to our North Star objective. Although today’s priorities include an impressive job, ownership at work, a sizable business, and work-life balance, underestimating relationships outside work will do no good. These relationships create purpose, keep us happy, and allow us to show the people we love, our gratitude towards them about how blessed we are!

Bain & Company and Harvard Business Review have been a great source of information for research statistics and specific terms used in the content.