Have you ever found yourself in need of correcting the behavior of someone in your organization, but you feel that you do not have the foundational relationship to do it well? Do you have a nagging feeling that your interactions with employees are unbalanced in favor of the negative side? You are probably in the red, along with many managers and leaders. In the red meaning that your relational bank account is overdrawn.
You can most likely guess that a relational account refers to the health of a relationship that you might have with an individual. As with a financial account, you make deposits and withdrawals into and out of each relationship. For example, we make deposits as we give recognition, keep our promises, etc. and we make withdrawals as we criticize, break commitments, gossip, etc. Unfortunately, the exchange rate between deposits and withdrawals is not 1:1 but rather around 4:1. It takes far more deposits to outweigh the withdrawals.
You may ask why it is important to keep track of these imaginary accounts, why put in such an effort. It is unreasonable to think that you would keep track and work on a relational account for each person you know or encounter. Focus on those closest to you; your direct reports, your boss, your spouse or kids. Focus on those that you influence the most or are accountable for. Take an account of how you’re doing with each of them (i.e. are you in the negative or positive?) and start building on this. Take time to think about what the right type of deposits might be for each one.
As you find yourself with a healthier balance, you’ll find it easier to provide the right type of encouragement or correction that these most important people need from you.