You know relationships are important. You spend a lot of time and resources making sure that you’ve got a handle on your relationships with customers, prospects, and others outside your company.
But how well are you managing your internal relationships?
The importance of internal relationship management
The core of any business is a collection of internal and external relationships, and the success of an organization is directly linked to its capacity to understand and optimize both of these types of relationships.
In other words, the more connected you are, the more successful you are.
But most people seem to think only about external relationships, such as relationships with customers, partners, suppliers, media and more. And these are important to achieving business success.
However, this is only half of the picture.
Optimizing internal relationships is just as important as nurturing the external ones. This is because truly effective collaboration plays a critical role in a company’s success.
In this post, we’ll look at how important internal relationships really are, and four big ways you can get to work analyzing and optimizing them—to the benefit of the entire company: establish your network, communicate well, collaborate, and foster a diverse and inclusive workplace.
- Establish your network, the smart way
- Have amazing vertical and horizontal communication
- Collaborate internally, to drive value externally
- Fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce
1. Establish your network, the smart way
New hires at any organization need to effectively establish their network from the get-go. Setting up your network early on is critical to success.
A 2018 study by the Harvard Business Review (HBR) and partners showed that “pull” techniques as opposed to “push” techniques by new hires are more effective when building a network. This means pulling people into your network and being more strategic about who you connect with at your company.
HBR covered their research in an article where they quoted David Sylvester from consulting firm Booz Allen as saying: “Very targeted investments make a big, big difference on people becoming productive more quickly and enjoying their time in the firm.”
In other words, make strategic connections within the organization to more quickly establish the right network for you.
Example: The big-time failure rate of mergers and acquisitions
As has been widely reported, a staggering 70% to 90% of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) fail. Why is this? One of the top reasons, as reported by Forbes, is an absence of a people “inventory.”
According to the article: “Most data about people in the organization being acquired is a gut call based on meetings and interviews. These gut calls are always useful but never enough when it comes to fully understanding the valuable asset of people.”
On top of that, formal organization charts often bear little resemblance to the web of people who actually execute work. In every organization, people build informal “go-to” teams. They rely on that one person who always knows “how we do things here.” They find someone in finance who can answer any budget question. These spontaneous, critically important connections are the lifeblood of organizations worldwide.
Internal relationship management would no doubt be a game-changer for M&A, and can offer valuable insights during organizational design, making it easier to establish future structures that position employees where they can deliver the most impact.
2. Have amazing vertical and horizontal communication
Ensuring information and knowledge are being effectively shared vertically and horizontally within an organization is a phenomenal advantage for any team. Maintaining alignment from the top of the organization down and horizontally keeps everyone on the same page and doing their most productive and strategic work.
It’s been reported that increasing horizontal communication within an organization helps to meet organizational goals, decrease misunderstandings and miscommunications, solve problems faster, increase efficiency, and enhance mutual understanding among peers.
Example: Marketing & Sales alignment as an organization grows
As companies scale up, it can be hard to maintain alignment between teams. For example, although expanding a team from three to four people grows the team by only 33%, you will see that complexity increases by 400%. One of the most commonly discussed connections is that of marketing and sales teams. As the teams grow, interactions can become less frequent and discussions less detailed.
Some best practices can help ease this misalignment, such as prioritizing regular meetings, effective onboarding, and using collaborative tools. When implemented, these practices can decrease the likelihood of isolated teams and create stronger, more cohesive, aligned, and collaborative work environments.
To maintain or increase productivity and revenue generation across an entire organization, today’s business leaders increasingly need to prioritize internal relationship management to guide the development of high-performance teams.
3. Collaborate internally, to drive value externally
There’s no question that collaborating with colleagues increases the amount of value you’re able to deliver in terms of products and services to your customers.
When teams work together and have access to the same customer data, they nurture customer relationships better and do their jobs more effectively. Teams that work closely together, leveraging each other’s expertise and sharing customer insights with each other, they’ll be more nimble and capable of exceeding customer expectations.
Example: From team-player to rainmaker
Heidi Gardner, Distinguished Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, has conducted research that found that when professionals collaborate across lines of service, they earn higher margins, client loyalty increases, and they are able to charge higher rates for the work they deliver. Her research has found that the more you collaborate and involve specialists across your firm, the more strategic advice you are able to offer your clients, and the more revenue you’ll be able to generate.
To illustrate this, the article describes a comparison between two lawyers who graduated from the same law school, practiced the same number of years, and billed the same number of hours.
The difference was Lawyer One involved six partners in the work he generated, while Lawyer Two involved 30. The result? Lawyer Two generated four times more revenue than Lawyer Two.
If winning and retaining more profitable work for your business isn’t enough to interest you in the value of internal relationship management, I don’t know what will!
4. Fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce
Investing in DEI and fostering a culture of collaboration where people from diverse backgrounds are connecting with each other can have profound impacts on a businesses success. Building a diverse, internal network of colleagues, teams and individuals benefits the organization by introducing diverse perspectives founded in different beliefs, backgrounds, culture, and education. This provides a wider vision and broader possibilities to navigate business challenges.
Example: Diversity drives high performing sales teams
In November 2021, Forrester published a study on how Diversity Drives Sales Success. According to the research, companies with stronger DEI practices also produced better sales outcomes. Through an online survey with 500 US respondents in B2B sales leadership, Forrester discovered that leading DEI teams had to following in comparison to those that lagged in DEI:
- 3% higher sales forecasts
- 28% higher conversion rates
- 12% higher sales attainment
- 6% higher customer satisfaction improvements
The power of internal relationship management is unmistakable. When organizations invest in fostering collaborative workforces, the results can be transformative in advancing some of their most important business goals; from revenue acceleration, to diversity and inclusion, succession planning, and change management.
Introhive is a relationship intelligence platform that transforms your messy data into real insights and opportunities, delivered directly to your revenue teams when and where they need them. Introhive seamlessly enables organizations to use their greatest asset (relationships) to drive revenue and adapt for the future.
Learn more about how Introhive can help your business grow revenue, relationships and retention by booking a free demo