There are countless companies, industries, ways of working, structures and goals. Yet they all have one thing in common: humans. Behind every company stands a group of individuals who work collectively for the company’s goals. As a company manager you are always also a manager of people. Relationship work is therefore inevitable if you are aiming for high performance.

Internally, a human connection must be established with the employees in order to create a pleasant and, above all, productive working atmosphere. A manager is more than just a organiser of “human resources” – he is an orientation aid, psychologist, friend and much more. The art of good leadership is knowing when which character is needed. But the relationship work radiates in all imaginable directions. ‘Networking’ is a common term for most. It describes the relationship work with the customer. In the B2B area this is a long process which can take several months or years, depending on the product. Nevertheless, the advantage of such a firm bond is that the relationship lasts for an extremely long time and forms the basis for long-term cooperation. However, it is not only when working on customers that a CEO needs to maintain serious relationships.

Regardless of the context in which a relationship is being established, it is important that each person is viewed with the same sincere interest and commitment. Relationship building does not work platonically for high performance. You have to make a real investment in the other person in order to know their real interests, work types, needs and problems.

In our work as business transformers, relationship work with people stands always at the beginning of everything. This begins with the composition of our team, in which we only accept applicants who are humanly suited to us. Therefore we are a small but very strong and well-coordinated team. In our client work, we also start at the human. We transform companies from the core of every single employee: We first transform the people by getting to know them. This consequently results in a new way of working with which the entire company can ultimately be transformed, according to our guideline: Human > System > Action.

In the picture above you can see me with Hans-Uwe L. Köhler at a German Speakers Association networking event. Mr. Köhler is a great, internationally recognized speaker who has been shaping the consulting industry for more than 20 years with works like “Sales is like love”. For me he was always an inspiration because he shares the approach of putting people and their performance at the center. This shared philosophy coupled with an honest mutual interest gave us an immediate human connection and laid the foundation for a professional relationship.

Relationship Work In The Digital Dimension

The present is digital. At the latest after Covid has thwarted us, we can no longer rely on building our relationships as we are used to: namely face-to-face. Most business relationships are concluded at events, trade fairs or lectures. And there especially in the phases between the actual content: At the coffee machine, on the way to the parking lot, and so on. In times of virtual work and life, such situations unfortunately no longer exist, which of course makes it more difficult to get closer to people. At ATES, we have always attached great importance to meeting each other regularly in the office in order to share our energy, motivation and our enjoyment of work with one another. We firmly believe that such special potential can be developed and therefore also encourage one or the other chat “between the door and the hinge”, because we have had good experiences with it. Nevertheless, we also have a business partner in the USA, with whom we always maintain close contact and have an equally good business relationship. So we do exactly what many find difficult in the current time: We remain one, although we are dispersed.

Here are 4 methods I want to share with you:

  1. Bring “door and hinge” moments into the digital sphere.
    Why should we, just because we may not be able to see each other physically, forego the beautiful moments in our everyday life? In our online meetings, we always leave room for small conversations and fun – ideally at the end, after we have already achieved the goals of the meeting. So we start the following solo and team work phases with a smile.

  2. Remain reachable.
    We know very well: If we are not in person, it is difficult to assess what is going on with each other. But we can rely on the fact that we are always available when there is an acute situation. Sometimes just a few minutes of your own time are enough to solve a major problem for a business partner or customer. We take this time and notice that it not only works great, but is also well received.

  3. Establish a regular catching-up meeting.
    So that we don’t lose sight of each other and are always up to date, we meet every week for the Holy Hour. This is THE hour  in which we exchange ideas, discuss results and goals and give each other feedback as a team. We established meetings like this with all our customers and partners in a similar way, so we always move forward in a structured and effective manner.

    If you would like to know exactly how such a Holy Hour meeting works effectively and purposefully with us, sign up for the ATES Spirit to Share for a free cheat sheet for professional digital meetings.

  4. Keep the common goal in mind.
    If everyone pursues a common goal and aligns all of their work towards this, you automatically stay close to each other. Always remind your team of what you have and plan to achieve together and thus create an energetic unit out of all employees, no matter how scattered they may be over the virtual space.