Once upon a time, in a decade very far away, people would do their jobs, collect their pay checks, go home, and know that as long as they did their jobs well, they could sleep easily at night. They would be taken care of. Only in a fairy tale would this scenario be true today.
Many people still believe in that fairy tale. They go to work, do a good job, try not to make any waves, and think this is enough to protect them from career derailment. But guess what! “Wrong” You are in the center of a complex network of people.
Your job includes building a relationship with everyone on that wheel. You don’t have to do it on the golf course or over beers after work, but you have to do it if you want to ensure long term success.
Listen! Rather than share with you a story about someone whose career was negatively impacted by their failure to maintain network relationships, let me tell you about someone whose career was saved by those relationships. Samantha is an executive with a responsibility for the sales group of an international company. After quite a few years of working with the company, her boss left and was replaced with someone from the outside of the firm. Samantha and the new boss didn’t see eye to eye on many issues, and dissatisfaction on both ends inevitably arose.
The new boss was ready to fire her and asked human resources to help him do so. He admitted she did a fine job, was a hard worker and always met her sales goals, but they disagreed on some significant changes he wanted to make in the business. To bolster his case, he suggested they conduct a survey of people in her network, asking for feedback about her performance. He assumed that if he didn’t get along with her, then others must not as well.
Well, he was surprised by the results. It turned out that Samantha was a superb net worker. She built strong relationship not only with customers of the company, but also with vendors, co-workers and people reporting to her. To a person they praised her for her work ethic, integrity, and attention to customer needs. From reading their comments, you would believe they had named their first, second, third and fourth children after her. It was pretty clear that if the new boss fired her, he would lose goodwill throughout the company`s community of employees and customers. Instead, as a result of her network relationships, he was forced to find a way to work more effectively with her.
Samantha`s story demonstrates the power of network relationships. Most of us aren’t in situations this dramatic, but we all do need to call on relationships every now and then to help us out professionally. Just remember: Sometimes when you need that relationship, it’s already too late to build it. Tell yourself, spending time building relationships is not a waste of time. And it’s not. The more relationship you have in place, the more access you have to information and resources.