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Feb 20 2023
Relationships as Valuable Accomplishments


At our Summer Institute several years ago, we tried an experiment that went very well! We devoted a session to relationships as valuable accomplishments, and applied Performance Thinking.  We have always listed relationships as a type of valuable accomplishment, teaching both managers/coaches and performance consultants to identify them as important work outputs, when they deliver value in exceptional ways. We then apply the performance improvement logic to defining and improving them. We organized a mini workshop at the Summer Institute, and had a lot of fun with it, while at the same time exploring what otherwise might be thought of as a very "soft" sort of performance

One of our earliest examples of identifying relationships as "work outputs" was at Microsoft, years ago when we were working with their Engineering Excellence group. First level managers, who led small teams of coders, user interface designers, software testing specialists, and others, defined what a "good" relationship between team managers might be. They said that the criteria for "good" would include four things:

  • the two managers respected one another's technical competence
  • they responded in a timely fashion (by end of day or within 24 hours) to one another's communications
  • they worked toward shared goals, and
  • they were able to resolve differences quickly.
They claimed that if relationships among team managers met these criteria, that even if the people did not particularly like one another, they would be able to work together well, support operational efficiency, quality, and employee engagement, among other organizational results.
It turns out that most of us, if asked, can list the good relationships we have, both personally and professionally. And, given some prompts and a few minutes, we can typically define what makes them good. In doing so, we can appreciate the good ones, and sometimes gain insights about how to develop or improve the relationships that are not as good as they could be.
When we spent an hour with our colleagues at the Summer Institute engaged in this discussion, beside having lots of laughter and joking around (some participants included their personal relationships in the exercise), there were some pretty big insights. So we decided to incorporate much the same discussion in a webinar, which became one of our most popular recordings on our YouTube Channel .
You might enjoy the recorded webinar. And we are quite certain that many of us, and quite a few organizations, could benefit from the analysis and insights about improving relationships that came out of those discussions.


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