This week I attended part of a management retreat, in the hope that I would gain insights useful in my next assignment. It wasn’t so much the insights I sought as something I heard at this retreat that caught my ear. Something that pleasantly surprised me so much that I felt it as noteworthy, positive, and fairly new for my organization. That something was a conversation geared towards building relationships.
Back in February I wrote about the four types of team conversations (see “The Four Types of Team Conversations”), which I summarize here:
- Information sharing
- Problem solving
- Relationship building
In my years of observing leadership in action, I saw a lot of conversations for sharing information, planning, or solving a problem. Rarely did I see a conversation geared towards building relationships. Yet as I remarked in February, conversations that build relationships are critical to the success of a team. A team builds cohesion and shared commitment by engaging each other in a variety of topics and activities that may not necessarily be geared towards sharing information, planning, or solving a problem. It is through the interaction that the members develop alignment with the organization’s larger purpose. Finally, I asserted that building relationships leads to currency that can be spent in the other three conversations, and greatly increase the effectiveness of each. It was with great interest that I listened to the director in his closing, in which he stated that a large purpose of the retreat was geared towards building relationships. The message he sent was that building relationships as a management team is critical to the challenges that are before us as we deal with the ambiguities and uncertainties in human spaceflight.
At that moment I realized: he gets it.
Therein lies a point for me to consider further: if he gets it, who else on the management team is similarly inclined? More than I would suppose at first blush?