Employee Benefits

“It’s not personal, it’s only business…”

Colin McLain
Colin McLain
Vice President

We’ve all heard this saying or, at a minimum, some variation of it. In fact, we’ve all likely said this ourselves at some point in time. I’m not even certain where the quote originated from. Personally, I can’t hear this phrase without picturing Michael Corleone (i.e. Al Pacino) in one of the greatest movies of all-time…The Godfather. But I digress.

Some may say no truer words have ever been spoken. I would contend, no words could be further from the truth!

Far too often, we overlook the importance of empathy, sincerity, and trust in our business relationships simply because we are too busy. Perhaps, we believe our time is best spent “getting work done.”

In truth, without support from the right people, our work would be harder, less productive, and less fulfilling. It’s imperative to establish personal relationships which will ultimately provide us (and others) the best opportunities to excel at what we do and reach our full potential.

If there is one thing I’ve learned during my career, I can fully appreciate that working closely with others (and not going at it alone) will lead to better outcomes and results. You need a team mentality. It’s not as simple as putting top performers together and asking them to solve a problem. I can affirm that with the latter approach, chaos and inefficiency will be the likely outcome.

We’ve all been told that “networking” and “collaboration” are key to establishing relationships. Technology gives the appearance that this is easier than ever with emails, texts, WebEx, and LinkedIn. But checking these boxes are not nearly enough to effectively build and grow personal relationships. Technology can assist us in a lot of great ways, but technology can’t replace the necessity of human interaction. Case in point, when the cable goes out or there is an error on our phone bill, we call the 800# and immediately press “0” to be connected with a live human voice. Am I right?!? We are inherently social beings, and regardless of how introverted some of us may be, we all seek out personal, human interaction when we are stuck trying to solve a problem.

Most businesses reflect the actions (not words) of their leadership, whether it’s good or bad. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced both spectrums of leadership throughout my career. However, my experience with bad leadership has made me appreciate great leadership even more. It often plays out that the most successful leaders in business are ones who intentionally spend time building personal bonds cemented in empathy and (most importantly) trust among team members. This cannot be accomplished overnight. I’ve witnessed bad leaders consider some of these activities as a “waste of time”…not taking the opportunity to get to know people on a personal level. They’re simply not concerned or considerate of one another’s personal stories, aspirations, dreams, and goals.

Now I’m not suggesting every business relationship needs to be uber personal, but I am suggesting that our BEST business relationships are very personal. Think of all the people, businesses, and activities we’re involved in. Now name your favorites. I’d be willing to bet most, if not all, have a genuine personal relationship at the cornerstone.

The value we achieve by investing in our personal relationships is hard to quantify, but experience shows building personal relationships is exponentially more important than simply “checking the box.” Regardless of your specific business, if it’s not personal…how successful can your business actually be?

To quote author Simon Sinek, “If you don’t understand people, you don’t understand business.” Now, I would argue, no truer words have ever been spoken.

Explore more from Holmes Murphy