As much as I want you to learn the Six Timeless Principles of forming successful relationships that transform, I want to start with something that is even more important which you can do through knowing and using these timeless principles. That is you can avoid the distraction and often times devastation of relationships that fail.
I have so often seen the devastating results in business, government, and non-profit organizations when the timeless principles of forming relationships are ignored. Avoiding the mistake of attempting to form or continuing to pursue a relationship that is likely to fail can not only save you the cost of the investment, but as in interpersonal relationships can save you the one asset that you can never recapture if lost, time. In business, the axiom is that “time is money”. In non-profit, time is impact.
Why do bad relationships cause your company or organization to lose so much time? The reason is that the time it takes for an organization to realize that a relationship on which they have embarked is ill-fated and unlikely to succeed is typically 18 months. There is a 6 month honeymoon. Then there is a period of about 6 months where the abrasions of a badly-fit relationship causes concern and actions are taken to respond to the issues. Then there is another 6 months trying to get out of the relationship. Many unsuccessful relationships lumber along consuming resources and time for 2 years or more.
Unsuccessful mergers often take 3 years before it is clearly recognized that there is a flaw in the relationship that is keeping the results from being what the organizations had envisioned when they first entered into the relationship. Once the failure is recognized as one that cannot be corrected, there is the time required to exit the relationship, which is much more difficult when assets have been mingled and financial investments made.
Some relationships are such that the entities are unable to excise themselves from the relationship. Like one person being pulled down with another that is drowning, all organizations in the relationship can be pulled under the water line by internal turmoil, becoming starved for the oxygen of customer and operational focus, and suffer to the point of being greatly reduced in size, value or even suffer organizational death.
What is unavoidable in a failed relationship is the damage done by the loss of good people, the reduction of assets, and the loss of momentum in the market or area of focus for your organization. In industry, competition moves in and takes market share. In other sectors, the mission of the organization goes unfulfilled and people suffer. Avoiding failed relationships can be of more value than predicting the ones that will have exponential success.
One tip to avoid forming an ill-fated relationship is the subtle, but significant characteristic of timing. There is saying adapted from a line in the play The Tempest, by William Shakespeare: “Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows.” It is spoken by a man who has been shipwrecked and finds himself seeking shelter beside a sleeping monster. Drawing from the circumstances that led to the quote regarding “strange bed fellows”, the best time to form a relationship is NOT when one is ship wrecked. This is often when people seek the solace of a strange bed fellow. Later they find they have become too close to a sleeping monster.
An organization that is in need of cash or has lost a key leader or has missed a curve in the competitive product or service offering and finds itself in need of a boost is often in a poor position to form a successful Relationship. The value offered by each organization is clouded by temporary circumstances. Yet many organizations choose this timing to attempt to form Relationships. Successful Relationships are very rarely formed in such circumstances. When one chooses to form a Relationship is important.