Are You Neglecting Relationship Excellence?

BY C. Lee Smith
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Are you guilty of focusing on task excellence and neglecting relationship excellence? Michael Stallard, co-​founder and president of the Connection Culture Group, says this is a common management problem. Stallard shared his expertise on this subject for a recent ManageSmarter podcast.

When managers fail to emphasize relationship excellence, they risk damaging the performance of the whole team. Failure to optimize team relationships takes many forms. Managers often fall short when it comes to communicating. Team members pick up on negative language from managers. If you spend a lot of time complaining, you risk bringing down morale. And then there is sheer negligence. Some managers find spending time on the golf course preferable to meeting one-​on-​one with employees.

To optimize relationship excellence, managers should improve their communication skills and be accessible to team members. They should also focus on culture. Stallard says “culture should be thought of as attitudes, language, and behavior.”

To prove his point, Stallard talked about Costco as an example of a company that gets culture right. Costco focuses on vision, value and voice. “Vision produces a sense of pride in the organization.” For Costco, vision is all about doing the right thing for the customer. In terms of value, Costco pays employees a good wage. Some analysts believe higher wages are a negative for shareholders, but Costco’s low turnover has been beneficial to the bottom line. Managers also demonstrate caring behavior (relationship excellence) by encouraging all employees to come up with innovations to improve the company’s operations. This practice speaks to the company’s commitment to voice.

Managers who want to replicate Cosco’s success should focus on culture and on relationship excellence. When managers strive to help their employees feel connected and valued, stress drops. Loyalty rises. If you’re having trouble making true connections with your people, ask for mentoring or coaching. The harder you work on this area, the better you’ll feel about yourself, and so will your team.