Effective Relationships

A lot of my clients seek coaching support around how they can build a more effective relationship with their colleagues, managers, stakeholders or clients.   My first question is usually ‘how do you know it is effective now?’, usually followed by ‘give me examples of where you feel it isn’t effective’ and ‘what would you like the relationship to feel, look, be like?’

How To Build Effective Relationships

My ‘go-to’ approach in building effective relationships is Schein’s ‘process consultation’ (1999) where he suggests that each contact we make should be ‘an intervention that simultaneously allows both the client and me to diagnose what is going on and that builds a relationship between us’.  By measuring your success in every contact you make through whether you feel the relationship has been helpful and whether or not your client feels helped, is key to building more effective and helpful relationships.  Here are Schein’s 10 principles of the ‘essence of process consultation’:

"Even the Lone Ranger didn't do it alone."

— Harvey MacKay

‘Essence of process consultation’

  1. Always try to be helpful
  2. Always stay in touch with the current reality
  3. Access your ignorance
  4. Everything you do is an intervention
  5. It is the client who owns the problem and the solution
  6. Go with the flow
  7. Timing is crucial
  8. Be constructively opportunistic with confrontive interventions
  9. Everything is a source of data; errors are inevitable – learn from them
  10. When in doubt, share the problem.

By default, by design… some tips on how you can create a helping relationship…

  • Step back and listen – don’t dive in with your own answers
  • Actively listen – really, truly observe and listen to what they are saying – and not saying
  • Think about how you frame and ask questions – are they open, what are you seeking to achieve from asking them?

Good luck!