This is the third article in a three-part series about how to leverage your relationship capital and gain confidence in relationship selling at meetings – inside and outside the office.
We often think of relationship capital as a tool to close a sale or secure an introduction to a prospect, but this web of connections is vitally important within your organization as well. Strong internal relationships lead to a freer flow of institutional knowledge and establish a standard of communication that will pay dividends in terms of more efficient processes and faster resolutions to company-wide problems.Of course, none of this will happen unless you can get your employees to embrace the idea that their colleagues are as vital to their network as external connections. The first place to introduce this idea is in the conference room. Every internal staff meeting is an opportunity to break down silos in your organization and build relationships across departments. Here are three strategies to get started.
1. Create opportunities for collaboration.
To get your employees to start acting as a cohesive team, you need to create opportunities for people to work together. Sounds obvious, no? But think of it this way: what are the odds an employee from one department would reach out to someone in an unrelated department for help in solving a problem (the beleaguered souls at your IT helpdesk not included)?
Your employees can’t know what they don’t know about each other, and that’s where you need to step in. As a leader, you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your team members across all departments, and make an effort to match up disparate skill sets to unlock solutions or innovation. As projects are assigned, gather your team members together in one place to review everyone’s role and skill sets, as well as what they can contribute specifically to each task.
Additionally, set aside time each quarter to focus on innovation, and bring in staff from across the company. Sure, hackathons are great, but make sure they’re not peopled exclusively by developers; grab marketers, creative and executives to pitch in with ideas and big-picture strategy. The break room will look a lot less clique-y in no time.
“Match up disparate skill sets to unlock solutions or innovation”
2. Make your team feel like part of a whole.
The fact is, companies who invest in their employees’ professional networks see incredible returns. Consulting giant Deloitte, for example, spends one million dollars per year on a referral rewards program that saves them six times that much in terms of recruiting.
Beyond the financial ROI, companies that engage employees in these kinds of initiatives also build relationship capital. As your team members are activated to help solve for high-level, company-wide needs, they’ll develop a sense of ownership beyond their day-to-day tasks. It will also introduce them to the kinds of skill sets and subject matter expertise required for roles outside their own departments.
So, the next time your HR department sends out a job posting, add it to your staff meeting agenda. Chances are, you’ll get more than just referrals out of it.
“Break down silos in your organization and build relationships across departments”
3. Create value.
Studies have found that there are two main factors that make people feel ownership for their work: autonomy and task identity. When your employees feel that they have license to make critical decisions about their projects (autonomy) and are allowed to see each project through start to finish (task identity), they identify more with the company, assign more value to their work and are more motivated to succeed.
In your next meeting, take the time to make sure that the projects you assign incorporate autonomy and task identity. Allow employees to both present solutions they’ve developed and ask for resources to get them there. Encourage them to pick the minds of their colleagues as well.
Haylin Belay is a freelance writer and blogger based in New York City. She is a frequent contributor to the RelSci blog.
RelSci is a technology solutions company that helps create competitive advantage for organizations through a crucial yet vastly underutilized asset: relationship capital with influential decision makers. Learn more about our leading relationship mapping software at relsci.com.