Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Business Relationships vs. Personal Relationships

I had lunch with one of my former athletes yesterday. She is in HR and a Diversity Training Specialist with a major grocery store chain in the United States. She has always been tremendously insightful with people and relationships.

At one point in the conversation she made a statement that was so simple and intuitive, yet so profound; I had to take pause, set my fork down and reflect.

She said simply and in a matter of fact way, "People don't stay with businesses because of business relationships, people stay with businesses because of personal relationships."

As I thought back to the teams I have been a part of and the teams I have had a hand in building, the glue that kept things together wasn't the business, the execution of performance by the individuals or even of the "what can you do for me". It was the personal and long-standing relationships that were being forged in the process.

She went on to explain that if you don't value the person, and only focus on the performance, then you, as the leader, deserve the performance that you will get. If the person comes to the realization, through genuine feeling, that you, indeed, value them, they exhibit the internal motivation to perform at 110% of expectation and their loyalty elevates to an extraordinary level.

I floated this thinking by several trusted colleagues today, and in each case, they validated what I have found to be true. Each had a specific incident or time in their academic or professional career that they related, without prompting, where they felt so much valued, as a person, that performance capacity outdistanced what they, themselves, even imagined possible.

I have always talked about our Velocity Sports Performance family, and that once you join the family, you never truly ever leave the family. This was so poignantly portrayed today in a 20 minute call today by one of “my coaches” from seven years ago. Even though he has chosen to pursue his own individual calling in the sports performance training industry, we had a fantastic conversation that cemented our relationship further. The relationship transcends the business.

Several days ago I also heard from a former athlete, who ran on the associated men's team at one of the universities I had coached over 20 years ago. He related my second mentor had announced his retirement after a fantastic and illustrious career in coaching. I immediately called and was greeted by my mentor’s voice with my name and a story he wanted to relate to me about someone he had met who said some nice things about me. Always the edifier, he immediately turned my call of congratulation and edification of him into making me feel good.

A prominent sprinter for the UK in her quote of the day shared, "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Although the quote was not attributed, largely because there was not enough space available, it was spoken by Mya Angelou; and hopefully it hits home hugely.
This business, and every business, is sooo about relationship building, and not just business relationships, but personal relationship.