So over the past 15 years of working in the non-profit world, advertising agencies, freelancing, consulting and now working with a large web development firm I have had the privilege of dealing with a lot of business relationships. Whether they are internal with co-workers, external with clients or vendors, or even working with customers buying your product there are striking similarities.
As my boy, Ian, grows up I have really grown a lot. I have learned a lot about communications, expectations, and the reality of outcomes as I become a self-taught parent. The lessons learned through parenting a 2 and now 3-year-old have opened my eyes to new ways of approaching business communications to keep expectations in check, while guiding the process toward the outcomes all parties seek. So over the next few months I am going to be posting these lessons I have learned in hopes you both enjoy the stories, and can apply the “wisdom.”
#1 – Everyone Loves a Routine
If you are a parent you 100% understand this statement. If you are not, use your imagination and think about how impactful a change of routine can be to someone who actually knows nothing else. Kids are so set in their ways simply because they have not been exposed to anything else and the transition to the unknown is scary for everyone. Whether it is a missed nap, change in dinner time, or a new school, the reaction to routine change can vary in severity, but always leads to tears.
Now apply this to your business relationships. If you are a service provider, project manager, or general manager you can set the stage for effective communications by establishing a routine and sticking to it. Regular updates with your clients, regular billing cycles, regular sales communications, all impact the mindset of your relationship. Once the routine is set and works for you, continue to communicate the routine and follow through and you will be on the right track to success.
Of course there are interruptions to routines, changes in times, locations, prior engagements that lead to alterations of the plan, however if you are keeping the regular communication lines open then you can set the stage for the shift in advance in hopes of alleviating some tears. This portion only applies to business relationships, and while there are no guarantees that tears won’t be shed in business, the open and honest communication will help to minimize them. With the kids on the other hand…it won’t matter if you tell them for months, they will still react at the moment of shift, mainly just to test you.
So remember, set a routine that works for both you and your counterpart, maintain communications, and set the stage for any adjustments to the routine. If you consistently keep this track you will have less tears on your part and theirs.