When colleagues are clear about what you bring to the role, it’s easier to work with you.
Creating your personal brand can help you talk about yourself and share how you approach business. Sharing your background doesn’t mean recounting your whole life story. Yes, I have heard seasoned executives go on and on regaling their life stories leaving little time for anything else.
Knowing what you want to say ahead of time allows you to build credibility and respect. Your stories don’t need to be too elaborate, just keep your messages short and simple.
Develop and articulate your personal brand using the following:
Value Proposition – Share the special value you bring to the business. What can you say about yourself in two to four short inspiring sentences that differentiate your unique talents?
Professional and Personal Background – People will be curious about who you are and why you were chosen for the role. Your background gives people some context and acts as a good conversation starter. Again, it’s not your life story, just the nuggets that help people get to know you. Be sure to include stories about what you like to do when you aren’t at work.
Leadership Values – One of the best ways to present your leadership approach is through sharing examples and stories about what you value. Then back up your conversations by walking your talk. Choose three to five core values that are important to you and demonstrate your approach to leadership.
Mutual Expectations – During your initial discussions set mutual expectations for how you will work with others as you get up to speed. Then, set expectations going forward once you’ve had a chance to better understand the role.
Share Your Message – Finally, pull together the relevant stories and messages you will want to share with others to start to build the foundation of where you will lead the business. Some leaders like to use pictures, timelines, and other visuals to communicate their story. Follow your story by asking colleagues about their own personal experiences.
Get comfortable talking about yourself so you can use the time with others to explore ideas and common experiences. Then you will have a foundation to step into the tough conversations.
“Trust is the glue in relationships and organizations.” — Stephen Covey
A friend of mine recently shared his struggles in working with one of his colleagues. Each conversation seemed to take a great deal of energy and effort to find workable solutions.
I asked my friend, “Are you spending as much time, listening to your colleague or are you busy pushing your own ideas onto your colleague?”
When colleagues struggle to communicate and work together, the results can be a disaster. Communicating and listening could be part of the problem.
Take a chapter out of Dale Carnegie’s classic How to Make Friends and Influence People to cultivate relationships with a wide variety of constituents.
Use the following A-List to make better connections with others:
“The first step toward change is awareness.” – Nathaniel Branden
Awareness: Relationships take nurturing and attention. Conversations initiate change. It’s a continuous learning process to be aware of how people process and use information. Notice and observe how comments impact a conversation. By tailoring language, tone, and tenor we can bridge different ideas to solutions.
Ask: Conversations can be taken for granted only to find that our approach has isolated us from the truth. Colleagues stop telling us the full story as they know how we will react.
We get busy multi-tasking; information gets truncated to the critical facts and a crucial piece of information is left out. Our genuine desire to help on an issue turns into a monologue of “telling” others our views, without giving them the opportunity to comment. In fact, comments may sound more like criticism than helpful solutions.
Set expectations to mutually work together and solicit and give specific, positive, and actionable feedback.
Approach: In the rush to get things done our quick responses can be lose the emotional element. The short texts and email conversations miss the relational context. This becomes the norm and the human element gets shaped out of the discussions.
Bring the human element back into conversations especially when exchanging sensitive information or ideas that can be misinterpreted via text or email. Approach interactions so that others can process the information and properly get engaged in the discussions. Take care to fill in the missing pieces that can be relevant in making sound decisions.
Accountability: Take responsibility for the conversation and ensuring all ideas are surfaced. Some people may like the personal conversation woven within a discussion. Others appreciate the extra time spent going through the data they spend days compiling. Still others may like the time to brainstorm ideas while others get comfortable when they can contribute to creating the process.
And above all else, take the lead to ensure everyone’s voice is heard.
Adapt: One style of communicating doesn’t fit all. Knowing how others think and process information makes it easier to communicate information in ways people can hear and apply the information.
Pick up clues from others and adapt communications accordingly. Anticipate colleague’s needs and making adjustments in delivery can be the key to advancing the conversation.
Act: The pulls on your time can get in the way of meaningful discussions. Actions speak louder than words.
For example, you promised to get back in touch with a colleague after a terrific interaction, but find there’s no time in your schedule for the next few months. And if your executive assistant tries to protect your schedule, the message gets out that you may not be approachable.
Spend time investing in key relationships and certainly don’t take those relationships for granted. There can be a tendency for colleagues to believe “no news is good news” when actually no news leaves action to chance.
The personal touch definitely makes a difference. Stand out by sending handwritten notes of praise and insights to associates.
So much of work is accomplished through peer relationships.
By design, functional roles see different perspectives of the business. There is bound to be a healthy diversity of ideas and opinions.
If you aren’t careful, it’s easy be frustrated or even get sideways with peers. These stalled relationships can cause missed business opportunities. In fact, negative peer feedback can even hinder your own career advancement.
Be proactive in forging relationships with peers. Don’t expect for peers to automatically follow your direction as direct reports might. Instead of taking a hit or miss approach, create a clear plan for how you will develop collaboration and trust. Relationship development starts with your own consistent actions and engagement with others.
Worry less about what your colleague is doing and stay the course to create open, honest and candid work relationships.
Here are a few tips to help develop stronger relationships with your peers:
Get Connected on a Personal Level
It’s so much easier to do business with people you know. Go beyond the business meetings and get to know your peers on a personal basis. Get out of the office and engage with your colleagues even if it’s over a sandwich or a cup of coffee. Find out what personally matters to them. Maybe take in a round of golf or a boat cruise during the weekend. Spend more time listening and less time talking to understand your peer’s point of view.
Create Curious Conversations
Be curious and ask questions. As you hear different ideas and approaches, take care not to dismiss your peers’ ideas too quickly. As Stephen Covey would say, “First seek to understand before being understood.” Discuss ways in which you can mutually support each others efforts. People will take notice when they see you working to mutually solve issues that cut across the organization.
Provide Mutual Support
Volunteer to help your peers, and in turn ask for assistance from them. Maybe review a presentation or report to provide helpful feedback. Make an introduction to someone or support them on a business issue. Start working together on something to create positive experiences that you can build upon.
Demonstrate You Care About Creating a Mutually Trusting Relationship
Relationships are constructed on trust. Take the time to set expectations and how you will work together. Share information and work toward solutions that benefit the entire organization. If there are surprises, address them immediately and create a plan of action so they don’t occur again. Regularly ask colleagues for feedback, to learn how you can better contribute to the team.
As you work on your peer relationships, you and your peers will want to show a united front in supporting the business initiatives. When you aren’t united in your efforts, others pick up on this and may end up doing nothing until you and your peers resolve the differences.
Don’t expect to agree all the time. The key is to create an environment where you can have those crucial conversations with others to find the best solutions. This takes looking at the big picture and the broader implications across the entire business ecosystem and being open to new ideas and options.