Start the learning on day ONE!
The first item on the agenda should be a meeting with a respected executive who clearly helps new hires understand that personal and professional success will not be based on a product or a service, but rather on the manner in which they develop lasting relationships. Share three best practices and ask the new hires about the relationships they want to develop while with the organization, versus what they want to achieve.
Assign peer-level relationship mentors
Assign new hires to a ‘‘relationship colleague’’ who literally walks them around and introduces them to key influencers and who travels or works on the project with them; this will help provide credibility by association. They need a peer to learn from, bounce ideas off, and relate to without the structural/authoritative pressures and the need to impress.
Help them form ‘‘relationship advisory boards’’
Particularly at a manager level, help new hires develop a group of subject matter experts and experienced peers, inside and outside the organization, to act as an informal panel of relationship advisers.
Institute and reward relationship coaching by managers
New hires are often trying to figure out which end is up. Although as a person moves up in the organization, the hand-holding will decrease, ensure that appropriate expectations and a reward system are set up that encourage managers to coach and teach the value of strategic relationships.
Integrate relationship development into your management training
How do managers learn how to build relationships? Unfortunately, a lot of companies don’t provide this training to new managers (kiss of death, by the way!). First-level managers are exactly at the right point in their careers for relationship development training, because they’re open to learning. It’s ideal to develop a foundation of good habits and skills early.
To learn more, read the revised and updated Relationship Economics paperback edition with 40 percent new content, including an all-new chapter 10 on social media and business relationships (Wiley, Feb. 2011).