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.

The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them 1

“We are being judged  by a new yardstick: Not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how well we handle ourselves and each other”. – Daniel Goleman – Working with Emotional Intelligence. 

We aren’t born knowing how to manage people effectively. (It’s a learned behaviour) We all start out making certain assumptions based on our own perceptions of what a manager should be. But our perceptions can be wrong. I hope you are able to learn from my sins. And trust me – in my 40 plus year career as an award-winning entrepreneur and general manager for one of  Canada’s best run and most profitable companies I’ve made my fair share. I’ve committed each one of these sins at one time or another. I’ve been there – done that – and have the t-shirt to prove it. I hope you gain some valuable insight into what it takes to be an effective 21st Century Manager.

  1. There is No Such Thing as Common Sense: Don’t rely on common sense as part of your training program. If you haven’t taught someone how to complete a task the way you want it done, then don’t assume they know how. Remember – Common sense is not common practice.
  2. You Can’t Motivate People: You can’t motivate people to do anything they don’t want to do. However, what you can do is create an environment in which they will want to motivate themselves. If you know what they want – and you have the power to grant it – you can use that understanding to get them to do what you want.
  3. You Ruin Good People by Promoting Them: Just because people are good at what they do – it doesn’t mean they will be good at doing something else. Not everyone has what it takes to manage others. Managers must be teachers first – technically competent second.
  4. You Don’t Have to Know Everything: It’s OK for managers to let their people know that they don’t have all the answers. What’s important is that they know where to go to find them. Always be honest and up-front with your people.
  5. You’re Not The Most Important Person in The Conversation: Communication is everything. If the other person doesn’t get the message the way you intended – then whatever you said – means absolutely nothing. Effective communication takes two.
  6. Park Your Ego at The Door; It’s Not About Being Right: You and I both know that there are a number of ways to accomplish the same task. The more that you allow your people to get involved in the process, the more likely it is that they’ll be interested in the results. It shouldn’t be just your way – solicit their input. Build collaborative teams.
  7. You Can’t Control Everything All of The Time: Your job as a manager is to teach someone else what you know. You can’t do that if you’re not sharing your responsibilities with the people around you. If you don’t delegate, you are robbing your people of their opportunity to grow. Resist the urge to micro-manage.
  8. You Can’t Demand Respect; Respect is Reciprocal: You’ve got to give it to get it. Gaining respect is a process. You must first build rapport, then develop a relationship – before you get mutual respect. People won’t trust anyone they don’t respect first.
  9. People Hear What They See, Not What You Say: You must lead by example. It’s not what you say that’s important. It’s how you go about doing it that matters most. If you look like a pro, and act like a pro, then people will perceive you to be a pro.
  10. There Aren’t Any Negatives; Everything is Positive: Your attitude is the only thing that you can control 100% of the time. Only you get to decide how you want to react to any given situation. React in a way that is going to get you what you want. People choose to follow winners not whiners. Always choose to be a winner.

To order your advanced copy of Brian’s book  – “Confessions of a Reformed Control Freak – The Top Ten Sins Most Managers Make & How to Avoid Them” contact the Author – Brian Smith at or call 613-868-5698.

There’s Nothing Constructive About Criticism – Give Good Feedback Instead

“No one has ever harmed their stomach by swallowing evil words unsaid” – Winston Churchill

Your number one role as a manager is to teach someone else what you know. Having the ability to give good feedback is critical if you want to improve performance. (You’ll attract more bees with honey then you ever will with vinegar)

In order to give good back (as opposed to constructive criticism) you must be able to explain or demonstrate what the person is currently doing and communicate why you think it’s falling short of expectations. Unless you can explain why that individuals current performance is failing to get the desired results (below accepted standards), you stand little chance that they will be motivated enough to improve their performance. (For example – if it takes your learner 40 minutes to complete a task and you think it can be done in 20 minutes, you must be able to demonstrate that it can be done in 20 minutes). Don’t get too caught up in how they are doing it. The how isn’t important. It’s the end result that counts. You may suggest an easier way for them to do it – but just cause it’s your way – it doesn’t make it the only way. If you can demonstrate a faster way to do it, then make productivity the issue. Their way isn’t dumb; it’s just taking too long.

Things you SHOULD do when giving good feedback

  • Feedback is most effective when it’s immediate, specific, relevant, and accurate. (No sense in bringing something up that happened days or weeks ago)
  • State the purpose of your “teachable moment”. What do you want to improve upon?
  • Set a positive tone. Choose your words carefully. Be respectful – play nice.
  • Be specific; take your emotions out of the exchange. Base the discussion on facts not feelings.
  • Focus on the behaviour – not the person. (I don’t want to change you, only what or the way you are doing it)
  • Invite input from the learner. How would they do it?
  • Listen a great deal more than you talk. You can’t learn anything when you’re talking
  • Agree on an action plan. Resist the urge to insist they use your plan. They must own the process because you are going to hold them accountable for the results.
  • Look for opportunities to praise. (Read Ken Blanchard’s “One Minute Manager”.)
  • Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up. (People do what you inspect not what you expect)

Team Building – Building Collaborative Work Teams

“Coming together is a beginning – Keeping together is progress – Working together is success” – Henry Ford.

Dolphins do it, humpback whales do it, even lions, orcas and wolves do it, and of course humans try to do – so says Phil Baguley author of “Teams and Team-Working”. Why teams? Do we really accomplish more? Reduce costs? – Or is it just wishful thinking? I know we expect our team mates to “take one” for the Gipper – but really – give me a break. Teams and work teams make for a great sound bite – but in the real world – your world – do they produce the kinds of results that you want? Or do they create more problems than they’re worth?

The Ten Obstacles to Teamwork

Mike Rogers, owner of a team and leadership development organization based in Cedar City Utah (he can be reached at poled members of his Linkedin Group of Managers to find out what they thought where some of the road blocks to building successful teams. Here’s their list of the top ten obstacles to teamwork and what I think you can do to overcome them. What obstacles would you put on your list?

  1. Lack of a competent leader: Managers aren’t expected to know everything – But, team members expect  them to know where to go to find out. Know what you are talking about. Don’t make it up as you go along. You shouldn’t be playing a game of smoke and mirrors.
  2. Lack of goals and goal alignment: You need to be very clear on what it is you want to accomplish and then put a plan together that will accomplish it. Everyone on your team needs to be on the same page – working towards a common goal.
  3. Individual focus on themselves and not their team: There can’t be any hidden personal agendas. There can only be one agenda. The team’s agenda. Everyone needs to understand that if the team wins – everybody wins.
  4. Lack of understanding team members. What motivates you may not motivate them. Managers need to take the time to find out what their people’s needs are. And then work very hard to make sure their needs are met.
  5. Lack of clarity on team roles, the purpose or vision of the team. Everyone has a strength that they bring to the team. Managers need to put people in positions where they will be able to play to their strengths. Every decision you make as a manager must be a reflection of your team’s purpose and vision. (If it isn’t – don’t do it)
  6. Lack of focus on team rewards and appreciation. You’re the manager. You’re going to get most of the credit for the teams successes. Share the praise. Acknowledge the contribution of your work team members. Praise goes a long way and it didn’t cost you a dime.
  7. Lack of spending time together as a team. People want to feel important. They want to feel needed. Take the time to build relationships with the people you work with. People perform better for people they like and respect.
  8. Poor communication. You can’t communicate too much. People want to know what’s going on – good or bad – especially if it’s going to impact them. Poor communication can be as simple as not posting their weekly hours schedule on time.
  9. Lack of trust. If they can’t trust your word – they won’t trust you at all. Your word is your bond. What ever  you say you’re going to do – do it.
  10. Lack of accountability. We all make mistakes – including you. Don’t try to justify it or cover it up. Admit it up front – learn from it – and carry on. Managers must hold their people accountable for the results. If you let one team member get away with poor performance – you’ll need to let everyone get away with poor performance. Based on my experience – workers don’t have an issue with company policy and procedures. They understand that there needs to be rules. They have an issue however, if those policies and procedures aren’t applied fairly, evenly and consistently across the board. Rules need to apply to everyone – including you.