Rewards of relationship

Published - August 24, 2010 10:34 am IST - Chennai

Title: It's Not Just Who You Know, Transform your Life (And your Organization) By Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships. Author: Tommy spaulding Foreword by Ken Blanchard.

Title: It's Not Just Who You Know, Transform your Life (And your Organization) By Turning Colleagues and Contacts into Lasting, Genuine Relationships. Author: Tommy spaulding Foreword by Ken Blanchard.

You know ROI, return on investment, and ROE, return on equity. Ever tried to look at ROR? What’s that, you may wonder. ‘Return on relationship,’ explains Tommy Spaulding in ‘It’s Not Just Who You Know’ (

The power of ROR is great and varied, he promises. “For the organisation, it’s an economic driver, not some motivational HR mandate. For the individual, it’s not only a quicker path up the corporate ladder, but a more joyful, fulfilling experience along the way. For the community, it’s greater outreach, more sincere participation, and, most of all, a positive force for change.”

Five floors

In our fiercely competitive world, those who separate themselves from the pack define the interests of others and work tirelessly to help them advance, instructs the author. Today, you need to go beyond the obvious all the way to what he calls ‘penthouse’ relationships – ‘relationships that move up from surface level of facts and social niceties (first and second floor relationships), past the exchange of opinions (third floor) and feelings (fourth floor), and into the fifth floor, the penthouse reserved for complete transparency and marked by long-standing loyalty.’

Today’s business world, rues Spaulding, often suffers from ‘reactive syndrome,’ where building meaningful relationships is something one falls back on when one is in trouble. “We ‘network,’ but we never move beyond our shallow, immediate needs. We never experience the fullness of deep, meaningful relationships.”

He avers that organisations succeeding in ‘relationship economics’ by generating significant ROR have ‘relational competence’; and in the opposite, organisations lacking such competence can’t survive for long. The cost of poor relationships shows up all over the balance sheet in great big strokes of red ink, notes the author. “It shows up as lost sales, of course, and inefficient partnerships, and don’t forget the cost of turnover.”

Relentless communication

Make communication ‘super routine,’ something that is part of your lifestyle, advises Spaulding. Find ways to move the relationship forward, he adds. “When I have a conversation with someone, I’m always looking for at least one opportunity in which I can follow up with an email, a call, a card, or a follow-up meeting.”

In the hierarchy of ‘relentless communication,’ a text is nice but an email is better, he says. “And a phone call is better still. Sometimes, however, a handwritten note is even better. A gift with a handwritten note is special. But hand-delivering a note along with a gift is the best.”

Though such communication takes time and energy – and some money for cards, books, gifts and postage – the investment is worth the cost, Spaulding reasons. “Whether you’re trying to create a new relationship or building an existing one, stay in touch with the other person. Find unique, consistent ways to stay connected to their lives. When they hear from you, especially in personal ways, they’ll know you care. And they’ll want to know you better.”

Monopoly vs chess

When you approach relationship-building focused only on your own benefit, with your own self-serving agenda, and with ulterior motives, everyone around you can see it for what it is, the author cautions. It is like playing the Monopoly board game, he analogises. “Even if you buy all the properties and fill them with hotels, you will never build meaningful, long-term relationships. Your relationships will be as bankrupt as the opponents you defeated in the game.”

Instead, the lessons of chess apply to relationships, he observes. “You can look at each relationship you have and see how it connects to all the other relationships, and anticipate how those relationships can help each other based on whatever actions you take or the other person takes.”

In ‘relationship chess,’ the focus is not on ‘capturing a pawn or trapping a king,’ but ‘connecting people from multiple relationships in ways that benefit everyone involved,’ by paying close attention to the needs and interests of the people around us, and, importantly, ‘thinking several moves ahead.’

Imperative study for professional managers.

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