“If you believe business is built on relationships, make building them your business” – Scott Stratten
It seems lately that my leadership blog has overwhelmingly been impacted by the impact of COVID. My last four posts have started with a paragraph referencing the impact this pandemic has had on both my own approach to leadership and my guidance to others. On the one hand, it’s a shame this has become the norm for us. On the other hand, the experiences we have gained are so profound I find myself compelled to write about them. Stay with me again as I share continued insights gained as a result of this new norm.
Many of you know I manage a company called Genuent. At Genuent, we are in the people business. We provide our clients technical talent across a broad spectrum – including newly experienced as well as those with years of expertise. Our product is our people, both the consultants we place on assignment and the Genuent team that works closely with our clients and consultants to ensure the right technical and cultural fit. In other words, we have no inventory, no production lines, and our assets walk out the door every evening (well, in this new norm, they walk from their home office downstairs to their families).
When I first joined the company, I met with members of the leadership team to ask the question – what makes us “Genuent”. Overwhelmingly I received the same answer – “we care about the people we serve and the people we place”. Time and time again I got this answer, followed by a simple phrase – “our relationships matter to us”. So it wasn’t hard to make the stretch to shift our branding from “Innovative Workforce Solutions” to “Relationships Matter”. If that is what made us who we are, we should declare it to the world, right?
Now let me tie this back to COVID. Along with so many other businesses forced to work under a new paradigm, shifting to a remote work environment where we were isolated from meeting our clients and consultants in person proved to be a challenge we had yet to face. And for a business built on relationships, we had long held the belief that those local, in person meetings were integral to our success. Now that we were completely unable to meet with our clients in person, critical to our focus on relationship building, we wondered what impact it might have on our company.
The answer surprised us all. In fact, we found that it was the quality of those relationships that mattered. If we had built them over time based on trust, respect, and a willingness to do the right thing, distance would not prevent them from holding strong. In fact, we found that it was those very relationships that truly mattered when it came to operating in this new paradigm. Video, audio, and even email communications sufficed so long as the relationships were foundationally strong.
We’ve recently launched a new initiative across the entirety of the company. We call it “Your Relationships Matter”, and its targeted to operational support staff that support our business development and recruiting/consultant management team members. The premise is simple – why not leverage their relationships to help improve our business. And two weeks in to the effort, we have already generated 9 new leads that were otherwise overlooked before. If we are going to live our purpose as a company, it was important for everyone to be invested in this effort…everyone working for a common goal.
If you want to build a business on relationships, be in the business of building relationships. A simple yet profound statement that is the basis of our business, and has proven to be the key attribute that is allowing us to navigate these difficult times.
Are you simply building a business, or are you building relationships that will ultimately build the business for you?
Trust me when I say – Relationships Matter.