The Art of Relationships
By tracking meetings and strategizing social networks, Business Relationship Managers can have relationships down to a science, but Jeff Warren wants BRMs to include the art of relationship management in their work as well.
“BRM is here to do something very specific, [to] be very impactful,” Warren, President of Barkley Consulting Group, says on business relationship management; BRM is the first star in a complex corporate constellation, the compilation of brush strokes that fully paint an organization’s personality and potential. Like in art and stars, a business relationship manager’s eye must be finely attuned to the details that build productive and fulfilling relationships. They must also turn this observation to themselves.
“When BRM is on the right path, you are building meaningful relationships with someone and your interactions are taking advantage of that awareness,” says Warren. “If you understand the position someone is in, what their values are, and their perspective, the actions you take will reflect those things.”
Good results come from good relationship management; when relationships in an organization are taken for granted, or undervalued, the organization will likely find itself faltering at crucial junctures, or perhaps splintering completely. Relationship management done right anticipates and reconciles these splinters; furthermore, it nourishes an organization’s relationships into powerful currents that push it toward its purpose.
An artful business relationship manager will be involved in as many facets of an organization as possible, court alternative and diverse viewpoints, and reflect on their own values and presentation. Being likable helps – greatly – but likability is not enough. A good BRM will also utilize creativity when likability has reached its limit and results need to be achieved. Influence, empathy, and a shared understanding of value are essential tools for the job, as are personal resilience and curiosity.
“When BRM is on the right path, you are building meaningful relationships with someone and your interactions are taking advantage of that awareness,” says Warren. “If you understand the position someone is in, what their values are, and their perspective, the actions you take will reflect those things.
Warren’s suggestions on cultivating these qualities range from classics such as reading Dale Carnegie and working with Toastmasters to getting more involved with your organization’s particularities. BRMs can get to know their organizations better by seeing things from multiple perspectives via job shadowing, acting as a customer of your organization to see things from that perspective, or simply talking to people who work in other parts of the organization. In this way, they can get to know how the organization operates, who it represents, and how it can all be optimized.
Most important, though, for an artful BRM is they make that effort to understand themselves and the face they’re presenting to the world. Warren says many of the people he teaches realize in his classes that how they view themselves is very different from their outward portrayal. A BRM who does not understand how they come across, how they communicate themselves to others, or how to appropriately adjust their self-presentation is missing an essential set of tools even if they are an expert at understanding the strategy behind their work.
In short, the art of relationship management is no paint-by-numbers affair. It’s a highly personalized process that, as artists in any genre know, is never complete, and is always developing. However, staying the process yields beautiful results that benefit the BRM’s organization, the people within it, and the BRM themselves.
Warren holds his MRBM, and Barkley Consulting Group hosts a plethora of training, coaching, and learning options for BRMs who are eager to elevate their craft, including a new class called “The High-Performing BRM,” which is now being offered through the BRM Institute as well.
BRMs who are interested in hearing more of Warren’s takes on business relationship management will also find him as a keynote speaker at BRMConnect this fall.
About Jeff Warren:
Jeff is a creative and innovative thinker who uses a Design Thinking approach to develop new ideas for businesses and institutions – and to create desired outcomes that benefit the customer. Jeff holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science from Hofstra University and a Certificate of Professional Development from Wharton School of Management, University of Pennsylvania. He is a guest lecturer and speaker and works in an advisory capacity for start-ups in the technology sector
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