Relationship building for influence and impact

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Whether you are leading or managing, recruiting or selling, motivating or instructing, you will know the impact of relationships on maximising performance and minimising frustrations.

If you have ever found yourself bemused by the action or decisions of those around you, you’ll know that it’s not always clear what’s going on under the surface. It’s easy to make assumptions and judgements without understanding the full picture.

To continue our AATPowerUp series we’ll be looking at the importance of building relationships to create the best impact on colleagues and clients.

Inter-personal importance

Building relationships with people at work, your peers, your friends and family is an integral part of how we progress in life and work.  Within the accountancy profession, interpersonal skills are becoming increasingly important in an automated world.  In 2018, Robert Half cited Communication, Leadership and Customer Service skills within the top five abilities that recruiters are seeking.

Why should you want to be liked?

Are you an “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to get the job done” sort of person?  Do you work with someone like that?  It might be time for a fresh perspective.

It is frequently said that “people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers” and the B2B Marketplace Survey showed 61% of accountants had left their job because of their relationship with their manager.  What is the impact on your productivity and progress if only 40% of the team are in good working relationships?

One person’s strength is another person’s irritation

Personality and behaviour profiles are a source of insight into each person’s way of working.  As a DISC behaviour profiling specialist, I use DISC as the foundation to raise awareness and appreciation of the differences that might previously have been causing friction and frustration.

For example, attention to detail can be an asset, especially in finance roles, and it can also become counter-productive when a pedantic drive for perfectionism takes over.

Depending on the profile, one person’s drive for results and getting the job done quickly can come into conflict with a need for accuracy and compliance with guidelines and regulations.

Whilst it may be desirable to have a balance of profiles within a team, bringing their relative strengths and passions, it then becomes important to learn how to manage those differences so that everybody feels valued and works effectively together.

Adapt to influence

If you want to influence somebody the first step is to get your message across clearly.  An effective way to do that is to adapt your communication style to their preference for communicating and processing information.

Across the different personality types, communication preferences differ. 

  • The fast paced, driven individual needs headlines, bullet points and succinct statements.  They will prefer a quick one-line email or text to a verbose conversation.
  • The fun-loving charismatic individual needs you to be friendly and will respond to stories and analogies to keep it interesting.  Pick up the phone for a chat.
  • The steady, loyal individual needs you to take time to listen to their perspective, will want to know how they contribute to the bigger picture and will prefer to collaborate.  Meet them in person.
  • The detail orientated, rule-focused individual needs more information, will ask questions and asks for evidence to back up what’s stated.  They will prefer everything in writing.

Stephen Covey said, “Seek first to understand then to be understood.”  When it comes to building relationships this approach works well because understanding the context, individuals and priorities allows you to adapt your message and communication to the situation.

Adapting how you convey information or make requests to match the preference of the person you’re communicating with strengthens your relationship because your messages are being heard and understood and it feels as though you’re speaking their language.

Restoring damaged relationships

When there has been conflict in a relationship, applying the DISC profile characteristics gives four elements to restoring harmony:

  1. Tackle the problem – don’t avoid it hoping that it will go away.  That allows it to escalate and become a worse issue or spread to other areas.
  2. Seek the win-win – find out what each side wants and negotiate a resolution that suits both.
  3. Listen – give all parties the chance to be heard so that nobody feels left out, dismissed or overlooked.
  4. Objectively review the evidence – gather and analyse the facts of the situation instead of jumping to conclusions.

Three key things to remember

  1. Where there is difference, there is the potential for difficulty.  So instead of labelling a relationship or person “difficult” seek to appreciate their strengths and contribution.
  2. People don’t all think the same way.  Seek another perspective and understand the other point of view.  Just because something is different to your approach of way of thinking doesn’t make it wrong.
  3. Play to your strengths… and be aware of the side effects.  Know your own style and preferences and how that impacts on your relationships so that you can adapt for more influence and impact.

Nikki Wild is an expert in building relationships. This year she will be speaking at the AAT Annual Conference alongside various other experts. This years AAT Annual Conference is packed with inspiring talks, presentations and workshops designed to provide accounting and finance professionals with the skills they need to grow a business or advance their careers.

Join us, top brands and leading financial professionals on 13-14 June in Stratford-upon-Avon, to exchange ideas and learn more about the most pressing issues facing the sector.

Nikki Wild is an expert in networking and building relationships.

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