It is the invisible stuff.
Things you can’t readily see. It’s where success lives.
We set goals, develop strategy and introduce systems and processes to improve execution. We recruit talent and do our best to develop it and let it flourish. These are all tangible things, easy to connect with and absolutely worthy of our attention. But at the core of any organization is a network of relationships and it is the quality and strength of those connections that will determine the success or failure of an enterprise.
It is relationships that influence decisions and direction and determine how things will get done. Organizational strength, commitment and determination can be built on those connections, but those same networks can also be responsible for disruption and outright dis-function, for failure.
Just think for a moment, how much of our own personal satisfaction comes from the people we get to work beside each day. In many respects, it is the quality of those working relationships that determines our own satisfaction, enjoyment, even pride in our work.
So, what is it that makes those bonds strong, allowing organizations to navigate tough times and ultimately succeed, instead of breaking apart at the seams and faltering? Where do we need to focus?
It’s a cliché, it’s in every management book you pick up and the reason is, it is absolutely sacrosanct. Recently a very good friend and colleague explained trust on two levels. *
The first and foundation level is trusting that the person you are working with will do the right thing. Their intentions are pure, they will be honest and they can be counted on to act with integrity.
The second level, is that you can trust the person to get done what they say they will get done. They have the ability, willpower and commitment to both, do what they say and deliver on their responsibility. You can count on them.
If either level is compromised, trust is not as strong as it needs to be and the strength of the relationship will be weakened.
Strong relationships are built on a shared and unified commitment. It could be a simple goal, an entire mission, or a collective duty. That shared obligation is the very glue of strong organizations.
Each person has completely ‘bought into’ the purpose. They feel very much a part of it and in some cases, will even fear the possibility of letting their peers down.
The alternative, is a group that attends, but is not committed. Their purpose is unclear or they simple don’t buy it. It’s a recipe for disillusionment, dis-function and weak relationships.
When relationships are strong, people basically care more, they make an emotional investment. They care about the organization as a whole, they care about their work and more than anything they care about the people they are working with.
Strong relationships are built on the back of selflessness. People care on a deep and personal level about the people they are working beside and their well-being and it is that compassionate concern that builds strong bonds.
This is perhaps the toughest part of building strong relationships because ultimately you have to give up part of yourself to others. Not something that comes easily or naturally to any of us but it contributes to an immovable force when it can be accomplished.
THE JOURNEY CAN MAKE YOU STRONG
Invisible stuff is hard. Very hard and it requires resilience. I bet while reading this you have thought back on organizations or teams you have been part of when the invisible stuff, the relationships were not what they needed to be. Perhaps it led to failure and disappointment.
As they say, if it were easy it wouldn’t be worthwhile.
I am also sure that some of the strongest relationships you built were on the back of going through some tough times, sticking together, disagreeing, perhaps even fighting, but in the end being strong enough and committed enough, to see it through together no matter the circumstances. The strength of those relationships was forged in the fires of adversity and I bet they are stronger and longer lasting because of it.
So, in summary, work to build trust, find a purpose you buy into, care about each other and what you do as a team and finally…stick it out…stay the course…the experience could in the end be what makes the invisible stuff strong.
Most of all, focus on improving the invisible stuff. It is truly what success is made from.