Charting a Course to Gain Healthier Relationships & Commitments: Part II

We all have been there, a situation that does not feel right. Something is off, but we just cannot put our fingers on it. We feel uncomfortable in the relationship, but do not know if there is anything that can make it better.

Every relationship is different, but it has been my experience that hope is not a strategy, and relationships do not always get better by ignoring our feelings or blowing off someone else’s concerns.

We began discussing how relationships grow and mature through stages in “Charting a Course for Healthier Business Relationships“. Now is the time to gain commitment and enhance the team’s cohesion and engagement. Let’s see how:



 For a relationship to form well, there has to be a sense that all parties involved will benefit from. If we have a shared sense of trust, have a common purpose, and find if our invested time is rewarding, we begin to focus on our roles and how we work together. If we do not have a shared purpose, common goals, or there is no trust, the relationship stumbles.  We need to circle back and figure out what we missed.





As we continue to work together, our commitments grow. Our involvement becomes a part of our shared identity – we see ourselves as part of the team. If we do not feel to be a part of the team, we will invest our time elsewhere – we will fragment.

We have all been in situations where we seemed to be working at cross-purposes; we were not
focused on a common goal or approach – we were working, but not together.  When that happens, we need to go back and figure out what has gone wrong. Unfortunately, what often happens in this situation is ignored or people complain about it behind the scenes.  They pick up the slack to push forward; resentment grows.

To circle back and figure out why the team is fragmenting, ask the question,
‘Were systems created and problems solved through an inclusive process that focused individuals on their roles and responsibilities?’

Notice that the question does not focus on
who is to blame or why someone is not motivated enough. Blaming and shaming are not effective for building strong relationships.  In fact, blame and shame create hard feelings and bake those negative emotions into the relationship. It is far more effective to focus on the systems and processes by which they were created.  We often find that teams do not form well because those running the teams are not really interested in getting others involved and engaged. They seem to believe that ‘Good teamwork is when others do what I say’ and ‘We pay them, why should we have to motivate them?’

There is a direct correlation between involvement and commitment.  The possibility of ‘Your’ project failing does not motivate me as much as ensuring the success of ‘Our’ project.

Once we have resolved the problems, created the systems, and implemented
the processes, we now have to sustain the work day-in and day-out. This requires regular conversations with our customers and other stakeholders. Just because your work may not directly face your organization’s primary customers, do not think you do not have customers. Consider a customer anyone or an entity that has a choice whether or not to utilize the services you provide. The most direct path to job loss is losing the drive to continuously provide value, ease of use, and customer service. Particularly, in today’s gig economy, most services that were done in-house can be outsourced or automated. HR, payroll, benefits, IT, and maintenance are all services that companies routinely outsource.

Think about your interactions with internal departments – do they consistently deliver value and make you feel like  a valued customer, or did the last interaction feel more like you were an imposition? If the provider is not consistently delivering the services at a competitive value, there are probably alternative providers, and if you are the one providing the services, can you honestly say the value you deliver is competitive as compared to other alternatives?

Are the services provided hit or miss depending on the day and who’s asking or who’s watching, you will need to circle back.  But, unlike other stages you cannot just circle back and demand commitment. You can demand compliance, but commitment has to be given. Any manager that berates employees as ‘Just not committed
enough!’ does not understand human nature and lacks the essential characteristics of an effective leader.  I can hire your hands, but I have to earn your commitment.

The Workforce Engagement Equation© outlines the essential factors necessary to grow commitment.The fifth stage of maintaining a healthy relationship is Renewal.  We have to
keep growing and adapting to changes and challenges.  If we
do not, we level; we stagnate. Renewal is a process of continuous improvement, benchmarking,  investing in ourselves and our partners.

Keep these five stages in mind as we now consider practical application, because, what good is a theory that is not actionable?

The next time you find a relationship going sideways, consider these five stages:

  1. Did it form well? Is there a shared goal and mutual trust?
  2. Are people focused? Do they understand and accept their roles and responsibilities?
  3. Is there mutual commitment? Is the relationship rewarding to the point all parties are investing sufficient time and effort?
  4. Is it being sustained – consistently meeting the expectations and delivering on promises?
  5. Is the relationship being renewed so that continuing to stay in the relationship is rewarding and meeting the changing demands?

Now that we have a shared framework for discussing relationships, we next dive deeper into building and sustaining high-performance relationships. Next week, we are going to talk about emotions, understanding them, and getting better at managing them to improve communications and reduce conflicts.


  1. The Workforce Engagement Equation: A Practitioner’s Guide to Creating and Sustaining High Performance, by Jamison J. Manion, CRC Press, Copyright 2012

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