Change can be intimidating. As we go from our familiar routines and surroundings into the unknown, change can generate a range of emotions from anxiety and fear to excitement and joy. Whether the change is personal or professional, I believe the most important factor in a smooth transition is a strong support system. Taking time to invest in relationships can be a slow and time consuming process, but when done effectively it can deliver the best resource available.
Building relationships goes beyond knowing someone’s name and what they do (usually the first questions we ask when meeting someone new). When we take time to find commonality and go beyond surface conversations, we begin to build community. In building that community, we develop a support system that is much more willing to help in times of need. Typically the more time you put into a relationship, the stronger the support you will get in return. Think about your own situations. There are probably only a handful of people in your life that you would loan money to or help move from one home to another. I would guess that those people are some of your closest friends.
As new parents—it’s amazing the support that other parents have offered to my wife and me. It has been one of the biggest transitions in our lives and we wouldn’t be as successful in our new role without these quality relationships. As we’ve experienced growth and challenges in our business we’ve leaned on those who’ve been through it before. This has afforded us the opportunity to learn and grow as our business changes while having a support team along side us.
We also spend a lot of time focusing on building relationships within our team through cross training, team building exercises, and company outings. Our team members don’t have to love each other, but they do need to respect one another (if they do love each other though, you might just catch lightning in a bottle). One of my favorite exercises is this: have everyone spend 10–15 minutes sketching out the five most significant things in their lives that have impacted who they are. Unless you have a group of professional artists, you’ll probably end up with a lot of stick figures and creative illustrations. Once the drawings are complete, each person spends five minutes describing them and sharing personal stories. This single exercise helped our team get to know each other, and almost immediately we saw them demonstrate more patience with one another when difficult situations arose.
You don’t necessarily have to go out and be best friends with everyone in your life, but when you actively search for ways to build stronger relationships you are adding more value to your life personally and professionally. You are creating a support system that will be there for you when you need it the most. We all experience change in our lives. It is the way we lean on our community and overcome in the difficult times that determines how we move forward, grow, and prosper.