The 3 Rs – Building Relationships That Last 1

Have you ever met someone for the very first time and thought, “Oh, yuck – what a dink”? (and I don’t mean Double Income No Kids). You didn’t know why – you just knew that there was something about them that you didn’t like. But, after you spent some time with them – and got to know them better – did you ever change your mind?

Building relationships and establishing trust with the people you work with and interact with is crucial to your overall success as a manager. Once you lose the trust and confidence of your people – you lose your ability to manage effectively. Trust and respect do not come automatically just because you’ve been given the title of manager. You must earn both, one person at a time. (And remember, once you gain your staff’s trust and respect, you can just as easily lose both.)

Establishing trust and respect between you and the people you work with is a 3-step process that I refer to as the 3-R’s – Rapport, Relationships and Respect. It’s a process that everyone must go through when meeting someone for the very first time. Some persons will naturally go through this process quicker then others.

The 3 Rs – Building Relationships That Last 

Step One – Rapport: The first step is to build rapport. Find out something about the person other than the job that they do. Do they have hobbies? Are they married? Do they have children? What do they like to do in their spare time? You need to be able to carry on a conversation with them on a subject that they enjoy talking about. Idle chit-chat is important if you want to develop rapport. (It sends a non-verbal message to the person that tells them you’re interested in them and what they have to say. Maslow’s Theory #2 – acknowledgement – acceptance – recognition).

Step Two – Relationships: The second step in building trust and respect with your staff is to build a relationship with your people. Keep in mind that you can’t build a relationship until you’ve established rapport. Once you’ve established a rapport with them you are well on your way to building those all-important relationships. Successful salespeople understand the value of building relationships with their clients. They understand that clients choose to do business with people they like. Successful salespeople understand that a solid relationship with their clients built up over a long period of time – may be the one factor that keeps them a client. The same holds true for your staff. If you have built your relationships with them on a solid foundation, then your staff will want to perform well for you. No one wants to let a friend down.

Step Three – Respect: The third step to building trust is respect. However, keep in mind that no one trusts anyone that they haven’t built a relationship with first. Would you rather be liked or respected? I’d rather be respected than liked. Yes we all like to be liked – and I’m no exception – but I don’t want my friendship getting in the way of me having to make some tough decisions. And managers need to make some tough decisions that not everyone is going to agree with. They may not like the decision you make – but they will respect the fact that you had to make a decision that was in the best interest of everyone.

Respect is reciprocal – you’ve got to give it to get it back. The more you give – the more you get. Treat people the way you’d like to be treated. Be open-minded – Be flexible – Solicit input from everyone – Don’t be condescending or talk down to others – And listen to the other person’s point of view without interrupting them. (Even if you don’t agree with what they are saying)

Without mutual trust and respect your people will abandon you and you will eventually fail. (Always keep in mind that you need them a great deal more than they need you). You might be able to bully your staff into doing things they don’t really want to do for the short-term – but eventually it will come around to bite you in the end. (pun intended).

Managers lose respect because they are perceived by their people as not being fair, honest, and consistent with the way that they treat everyone. It’s been my experience for the most part that workers don’t have an issue with policies and procedures. Everyone understands the need for rules and the reasons for following them. Workers however, have issues if those policies and procedures are not applied fairly, evenly and consistently across the board.

“In organizations where people trust and believe in each other, they don’t get into regulating and coercing behaviours. They don’t need a policy for every mistake … people in these trusting environments respond with enormous commitment and creativity” – Walter Wriston.