Fostering strong relationships, whether it be in the professional arena or personal life, is often a key element to the measure of one’s success.
As a business analyst and project team member for most of my career, I have worked with all areas and levels within global organizations. Whether it be meeting with senior executives and clients, eliciting business requirements, implementing new software or processes, or training end users, I have not only relied on my professional expertise but also on my interpersonal skills. These skills in cultivating strong relationships with colleagues in order to meet goals and deadlines have been just as vital to my professional success.
I realized quickly after becoming a parent just how much we all need to extend ourselves and to rely on friends, family, and community to support one another to get through each week. Raising a child is a team effort and does take a village. As a single mother, I have worked hard to build a strong network of friends, other parents, neighbors, and professionals – teachers, doctors, coaches – so that I can be as successful in my “job” as a parent just as I hope to be in my career.
As I’ve tried to teach my daughter… it will not always be easy. You will not like everyone (and, as hard as it may be to believe, everyone will not like you) but you need to be nice to everyone. You need to make a sincere effort to cultivate relationships. Invest the time. Get to know people. Participate. Be present. Be willing to do what you can for others. Make the effort!
I approach my professional life with the same philosophy. Several years ago, I was assigned to a project that was not meeting deadlines. After reviewing all documentation and meeting with project sponsors, I reached out to individual team members to solicit their feedback on the challenges and roadblocks facing the team. Over several weeks, working deliberately and diligently to bring key players together, I was able to reassign tasks and adjust the project schedule to a more realistic goal. By working individually with team members as well as with the team as a whole, we were able to get the project on track to meet a slightly-adjusted deadline that was acceptable to the project sponsors.
An integral component to the success of this project was making a concerted effort to engage individual team members as I was providing them with direction and guidance to meet their individual goals. Yes, “you get more flies with honey” may sound trite, but by and large, I find that people respond to and appreciate anyone who takes time to get to know them and to elicit their opinions and experiences in the professional arena.
It may be as small a gesture as sending a card, giving someone a ride, acknowledging successes, or just listening when someone needs an ear. It’s an investment in building strong relationships. You can get as much out of it as you are willing to invest!
This is a philosophy that really came into focus when I became a single parent, and has served me well throughout my life. I only hope that I have been successful in instilling it in my daughter. Relationships take work, but in my opinion, are vitally important to both personal and professional success and happiness. Going the extra mile to foster positive relationships and a business community is so worth the effort!