15 Questions for More Powerful Relationships

With so many personalities in the workplace, have you ever found it difficult to work with everyone?  In every organization, regardless of where you work, you will naturally have some coworkers that are more challenging to work with.  Hopefully you are in a culture that has very few of these but learning how to boost your relationship is a skill worth perfecting. 

Think about 1 person in your company with whom you would like to improve your relationship. Read on to find some important questions to ponder to begin nurturing a more positive and effective relationship. 


1.     If you could change one thing about this relationship, what would you change?  What could you do right now to effect that change?

2.     What is working well about how you both work together?  What could be improved?

3.     What would need to happen for you to walk towards this relationship?  What would cause you to walk away?

4.     How might you be misunderstood by this person?  How might you be misunderstanding them?

5.     How have you contributed to the current health of this relationship?

6.     Do you value this person’s success as much as your own?  If not, why not?  What could you do to change that?

7.     What, if anything, would have to change for you to describe this relationship as collaborative?

8.     What do you expect and need of this person in this relationship?  What are their expectations and needs of you?  How could you confirm the expectations?

9.     What mistakes do you need to recover from?  What mistakes do you need to forgive this person for?

10.  How much time and energy are you willing to invest in developing this relationship?

11.  How do you talk about this person when they are not present?

12.  What can you learn from others who have a good relationship with this person?

13.  What baggage are you bringing that you need to let go of?  What baggage are they bringing that they need to let go of?

14.  How would you describe your decision-making style?  In what way is this similar to or different from this person’s preferred style?

15.  In what ways would this person describe you as challenging to work with?  What would make this person not want to be your supporter or advocate?

 Spend some time reflecting on each question.  Ponder it for a while.  Jot down some notes.  Notice if you are seeing any themes pop up.  Improving relationships requires you to see the other person differently.  Then act!  You can continue to think about it for weeks, but acting on -those thoughts is the only way it will improve. 

Trust Crisis in Business

There is no doubt a trust crisis in the world today.  One only has to scan the news networks on any given evening to hear that play out.  What may be less evident is the notion of a trust crisis in business.  Concerns about data security, information credibility, and transparency of information are on the rise.  According to an article in Forbes a few weeks ago 73% of respondents globally worry about information being used as a weapon.  Senior leaders and HR professionals need to address this gap in trust.  Best in class organizations are using these strategies to increase the trust in their businesses:

Communication-Typical organizational communications are sent out via email.  CEO’s need to change their approach and regularly use town hall meetings as a strategy to increase trust.  This should not be just a Q&A session, but rather initiating a genuine dialogue.  This helps both parties (CEO and employees) get to know one another and the issues each are managing though.  This use of small group meetings can lead to other senior leaders and front-line managers doing the same.

Strengthen Leadership Teams-Executive teams that trust each other model the way for other teams in the organization to work efficiently and effectively.  In my work I have found that executives are the least likely group to spend time developing their skills.  They are so busy working in the business that they do not take the needed time to develop themselves as a team.  By slowing down and spending time working on specific competencies, they can ultimately gain speed and momentum.   

Teach people how to be good teammates.  The team is only as strong as its ability to dialogue openly with each other.  You need to have vigorous debate and exchange of ideas to find the best answers and make the best decisions.  This can’t happen when trust on the team is absent.  Teams are not productive when worrying about the political ramifications of a statement, instead of the substance of the idea itself.  When team members are genuinely transparent and honest with each other it builds trust, which  then leads to unfiltered constructive debate of ideas.   

What does it look like to have TRUST on a team?

  • Being unguarded and genuine with one another

  • Apologizing and being open about weaknesses and mistakes

  • Giving one another the benefit of the doubt rather than jumping to conclusions

  • Asking one another for help and input regarding your areas of responsibility.

If your organization is struggling in this area, I’d love to be able to help you.  You will be amazed at the difference it can make when you focus on this capability.

Ripple Effect of Employee Engagement

“Teamwork begins by building trust. And the only way to do that is to overcome our need for invulnerability.” Patrick Lencioni

I recently had the opportunity to participate in Wiley’s annual partner conference where I was able to see hundreds of best practices for the 5 Behaviors of a Cohesive Team in action.  I heard lots of success stories and was also able to share some of my own.  This solution has the power to be a real game changer for organizations who need stronger more unified teams.  I have seen the power of teams when they are in sync with each other. When a group of people work together cohesively, towards a common goal, creating a positive working atmosphere, and supporting each other to combine individual strengths to enhance team performance, greater results can be expected; Businesses can scale and individuals have learning and development opportunities.

Here is the story of one organization, King County, who needed some help.  They made an investment, took the time to develop as a team and received huge dividends in return.  Take a look at the video and download the whitepaper.

Change is not an event

Change is a process, not an event. John Kotter

It has been said that more than 75% of organizational change efforts fail.  That begs the question of what causes change efforts to fail?

Here are a few of the reasons:

  • The need for change is unclear to the masses.  The necessity of it has not been clearly articulated or understood at the individual level.   

  • Complacency overcomes urgency.  Maintaining the status quo feels comfortable.

  • Resistance is unexpected.  Leaders often think that just because they have bought into the change, others will come along as well.

  • Lack of commitment throughout the organization.  Other priorities and daily work take priority over the change initiative.  Since there are only so many hours in the day, the initiatives that are in place and have existing momentum take precedence.

Successful change efforts are not easy.  They require a clear plan and exceptional change leadership skills.  Change leaders have several common attributes that make them effective.

You must have and be able to articulate a strong vision.  This will simplify a lot of decisions, motivate employees to take action and also will help coordinate the actions of people in efficient ways.

As a leader you must already operate effectively in the current culture.  Teams will not follow ineffective leaders who do not model desired behaviors.

Effective communication skills cannot be over stated.  It has been studied and reported that many leaders under communicate in times of change by a factor of 10.  Change leaders need to communication the vision through simple, heartfelt messages via multiple channels so that people begin to buy into the change.  People change less because of data and facts and more if the change real. 

Urgency helps motivate personnel to overcome complacency, fear, anger, or pessimism, which result in resistance.

Communicating is a process and different levels of communication are needed for different goals.  You can think about it in this order:  Awareness, Understanding, Commitment, Action.

  • They first must become aware that something needs to be done

  • They have to understand it

  • Be committed to it and then act


It may not be necessary for everyone to leap to action for a change to be successful.  Some people may only need to be aware of what is going on, others may need to understand it, while others will need to be committed and then act.  It is up to the first level supervisor and leadership to determine where each team member is on the continuum of awareness, understanding commitment and action

 Another key skill is to empower your team by removing obstacles to the vision.  Processes, systems and structures have been created to support the status quo.  Ensure these have changed to support the newly desired change.  This includes ensuring reward programs, performance goals and skills are aligned for the future.

Be sure to Create short-term wins that provide momentum and then maintain momentum so that wave after wave of change is possible.  Make your change stick by nurturing a new culture. Anchoring the new changes in the culture. 

A change leader is someone who knows how to initiate, lead and manage change.  These attributes are not necessarily inherent in every leader, but they can be learned and developed with sufficient training and coaching. 

“A leader takes people where they do not want to go.  A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”  Rosalynn Carter