For the month of July, I’ve been looking at various aspects related to managing change. The first post was an overview of the topic; the next addressed emotional intelligence, followed by resiliency. The last post was on processes that support managing change.  In this post, I’ll be focusing in on relationships and their importance to leaders leading through change.

There are a number of key relationships: those you report to, such as superiors, owners/ shareholders, or regulatory bodies; those who report to you, such as staff, volunteers, or third party contracted services; and those you collaborate with, such as peer levels, those in other organizations doing similar work, or professional associations.  These can all be sources of support or challenge when going through significant changes, which emphasizes the importance of relationship management.

Managing the relationships of those you report to can be difficult when there are so many unknown aspects and predicting the best course of action is complex and uncertain. Communicating the underlying principles and referencing reliable sources of data used in your decision making process will help if your choices don’t work out. Having open and honest discussions about the current status and ambiguity of the situation will require emotional intelligence. Additionally, the resiliency skills you honed will help with being solution focused in your interactions. At all levels of organizations or oversight bodies, direct reports coming prepared with an optimistic solution that remains consistent with the overall strategic vision will be appreciated.

Not only will this build your credibility with those you report to, but it will foster a supportive and trusting relationship for the future. Hopefully, those you report to have been reading these posts as well and have working on their own emotional intelligence and communication skills. If not, focusing on yourself and managing your own emotions will facilitate managing the emotional reactions of others. Remaining true to your values and those of the organization with authenticity and transparency will build trust in the relationship.

Managing the relationships with those who report to you is the biggest area where you can truly influence outcomes. Once again, emotional intelligence is the keystone for success with managing those relationships. Understanding the stressors and challenges of those reporting to you is critical in managing relationships. This doesn’t mean not holding people accountable; it means being realistically flexible on deadlines or work volume if people are facing significant challenges. As with the relationships with those you report to, authenticity and transparency in the values and principles behind the decisions and strategic direction chosen will support building good will. Using these approaches will support your team in giving their maximum effort when needed.

It’s a well documented management phenomenon that people will achieve to the level of expectations.  That means that if you believe your team members are all high achievers, they will step up to that level. Contrary, if you believe they slack off when given an opportunity, they will act to fulfill this believe. It’s critical you show trust and respect to your team and communicate that you believe they are doing their best to achieve the desired outcomes. This message will make that behaviour far more likely.

Building relationships built on trust and respect will move the goals and objectives of the organization forward. Fear, suspicion, and lack of trust will be problematic in the short term and will increase the challenges constantly over time. Providing the ground work for supportive, positive relationships will provide rewards immediately and for years to come.

Managing the relationships with your peers is an often overlooked when thinking of managing relationships as part of internal change management processes. This is a resource that could provide a great deal of support. Often as leaders we avoid asking for help or sharing our challenges.

Peers, such as professional associations or mentors, can provide information, resources, and support. With most peer associations, there is a confidentiality agreement. This allows you to ask for guidance from knowledgeable peers or share challenges safely.  You can use them as a sounding board to ensure you are remaining true to your strategic vision and are avoiding any challenges others have encountered.

Peer relationships can provide the safe outlet to share concerns while remaining motivated and positive. As individuals share their questions and challenges, group trust grows. Nothing is more motivating than being able to help a peer solve a challenge. It supports the belief that all problems have viable solutions and you have the resources to address them.

Leading through change is challenging and organizations are constantly in a state of change. With the pandemic and related measures, change in organizations is faster and more complex than in the past.

Building the soft skills of leadership, such as relationship management is what will determine how well you succeed as a leader in now and in the future.

To learn more about how CHC consulting can help build resiliency in your team, visit our website at www.communityhealthcareconsulting.ca or email us to set up a discussion time at communityhealthconsult@bell.net

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