You can’t be successful on your own, no matter how hard you try. Your success as a leader, and as an individual contributing to your company’s larger success depends on how well you build good working relationships. There will be times when those relationships slip or break down causing issues for you and the business to now overcome. Today we’ll look at some areas to consider as you evaluate relationships and tips on what to do if things have started going off the rails a bit. 

Lack of mutual respect and value


Experiencing a lack of mutual respect or value added to one another is one of the surest ways to see if a business relationship is not working. In a healthy business relationship, both parties should benefit and contribute fairly equally. However, if you find that one side is constantly benefiting or not contributing while the other is not receiving equal effort, priority, or attention, it may be time to reassess the relationship.

For example, if you are part of a project team, and an individual shows up consistently late, is unprepared, and doesn’t seem engaged in the work, while the rest of the team continues to push the progress forward, you may have a problem. Another example would be a client asking for more and more without being willing to adjust their payment for the product or project. 

Lack of or broken communication


Solid communication is key to building a strong business relationship with someone else. Shakey or inconsistent communication can also lead to an erosion of trust which of course impacts your relationship with the other person. How is your communication with the other person? Do you feel left out as updates and decisions are made? Do you find yourself following up more than normal with the person? Perhaps you are communicating less with the individual because of a personality rub with them. 

A drag on business or progress


Another sign that a business relationship is in trouble is when it has a negative impact on the results or it is a drag on the business. For example, if a coworker or vendor consistently fails to deliver on their commitments, it can impact timelines that ultimately flow down to impact the business itself,  There is also other residual fallout that can occur including a hit to their, and your, reputation, among other things. Another example is when a business partner makes decisions that are detrimental to your business without informing or consulting with you.

Tips to work through business relationships that aren’t working

  • Open Communication Channels: Establish open and honest communication with the parties involved. Clearly express concerns, expectations, and any issues that may be affecting the relationship. Encourage others to share their perspectives as well. Effective communication lays the foundation for understanding and resolving issues. Have an open and honest conversation with the other person to discuss your concerns and explore possible solutions. The issue may have nothing to do with you personally and could be rooted in the other person being over-stretched or under-resourced. 

  • Seek Mediation or Facilitation: If communication breaks down, consider bringing in a neutral third party, such as a mediator or facilitator, to help navigate the challenges. A neutral party can provide an objective viewpoint, facilitate discussions, and guide the parties toward finding common ground. This external perspective can often lead to constructive solutions.

  • Define Clear Expectations: Ensure that all parties have a clear understanding of expectations and responsibilities. Misalignments in expectations often lead to conflicts. Regularly revisit expectations to make sure that they are still relevant. Clarity in expectations can prevent misunderstandings and foster a more collaborative environment.

  • Establish Boundaries: Clearly define boundaries and professional limits within the business relationship. Understanding each party’s roles and responsibilities helps manage expectations and reduces the likelihood of overstepping boundaries. Setting clear guidelines for communication, decision-making, and collaboration can contribute to a more harmonious working relationship. Consider if you have a toxic co-worker (Show 205) and respond accordingly. 

To be successful in your work, it’s essential to have good working relationships. Evaluate those connections to determine what the gaps are and then work to establish deeper and more meaningful connections when needed. 

Make a better tomorrow. 
-ZH