The Role of "8 Relationship Realms" In Your Corporate Success

By Justin Hitt, Strategic Relations Consultant,

In every action each day, your company interacts with people and organizations that influence to your success. How you interact with these groups significantly contributes to your individual and corporate success. Defining and identifying the needs of these relationships is your first step to solid corporate growth.

The relationship realms that pertain to your business life are:

  1. self,
  2. family,
  3. employees,
  4. customers,
  1. community,
  2. industry,
  3. vendors/partners, and
  4. shareholders

Other relationships exist, however, these eight areas represent those who directly influence your company and govern how it interacts with the outside world. Another way to think of relationship realms is as categories, while it is possible for an individual to be a member of multiple realms, it is more likely each category has a specific purpose to which you may measure.

These relationship realms can help your business by isolating problems as they pertain to the ways you interact with those resources that contribute to your success. If any of these relationships are poor, they draw energy away from the other relationships. A good example is the well-known fact that poor employee relations eventually leads to poor customer relations. Each of these realms builds on one another, starting with your relationships with your self, moving through your company's relationship with its shareholders.

In using, a relationship based corporate philosophy it is most important not to change dramatically anything about what you are doing, but concentrate on one thing at a time as it contributes to your overall corporate objectives. These methods tune your existing processes instead of replacing them. Over time, your current thinking was developed for some valid reason. This must be the case otherwise; you would not still be thinking that way. It is important to improve those points where you are deficient, while keeping current on your strengths. Too frequently new methods are adopted without considering those strengths you already possess.

Your business relationships serve as a foundation and glue enabling your organization to support corporate success. They do not create corporate success as much as it allows you to maintain successes you already have. Little known internal strengths are highlighted through strong business relationships to those outside your company. These relationships reinforce your efforts while demonstrating your companies ability to stand behind its products or services.

Consider these models as examples of how relationship realms work in business to influence corporate success:

< p>A strong positive relationship with employees develops pride and respect for corporate leadership. This pride and respect translates into higher product quality, loyalty, and a greater job satisfaction. Customers see this in the way employees interact with them.

A senior manager has issues with alcohol which leads to inattention at work, employees learn to work without direction from the manager, this independence has lead them away from corporate objectives. You replaced the senior manager; however, the new manager has no influence on the employees because of a precedence set by the previous manager. Until the relationship is repaired, the new manager is just as ineffective as the previous.

Your company has experienced an unexpected need to recall products because of fatalities. News sources portray your company as irresponsible, while the product in recall in only one of the hundreds of products you produce. Your customers expect a prompt solution to the situation, while your employees wanted to investigate the real reasons behind the problem before a full recall. The unfavorable industry news is drawing customers towards your competitors. Until the relationship is repaired for the faulty product, and stronger relationships are established for other products, you will continue to lose customers.

You are seen as a leader in your industry because you deliver quality products in a timely fashion, your customers are loyal to your product, and employees are of a higher quality than average. This positive relationship allows your company more favorable reviews, news coverage, and complimentary editorial inclusion. A higher level of positive exposure leads to an increase in product sales.

The strong relationships help you receive extra efforts on the part of those to whom you interact with, while the poor relationships draw people away. Success in each relationship realm provides certain benefits not available to others in the same group. However, these trusted situations are only available to those who deliver what is expected or promised to the target realm.

As a business leader, you have direct access to the relationship realms of self, family, and employees -- and only an influential relationship with the remaining realms. This means you must convey these principles enabling your employees to improve business relationships in each of the customer, community, industry, vendor/partner, and shareholder realms. Since, all action and guidance comes from you (the person in charge) you must enable your employees to build these outlying relationships on their own.

It is a sequential process requiring first strong relationships with your self, building out to family, then employees through to shareholders. If you take care of your responsibilities of teaching corporate vision, methods, and benefits of achieving business objectives then the remaining realms will take care of themselves. However, employee turnover is a given, so continuing education is necessary to teach this corporate culture in order to maintain consistency in all relationships.

You will see the power of relationship realms in the interactions between each group. They are not measurable in the sense of performance criteria, but can serve as a starting point for improving these measurable characteristics of a company. Look at the honesty, tone or posture, and level of communications between each realm -- breakdowns can alert your company of larger problems not yet identified.

Once your organization has identified the members of each realm, you can measure your performance over time. You can measure the quality of relationship realms by surveying the opinion of each group as it pertains to their expectations. The expectations of each realm should direct your actions; however, this measure requires a high level of communications.

As mentioned previously, each realm builds on the one before it -- starting with your own satisfaction with your self. In order to evaluate you own satisfaction, ask yourself,

Develop additional questions as they pertain to your business for both your self and family. Some executives are not happy with the way their career has turned out, and have not taken the time to identify where they can improve their own situation. This leads them to put extra pressure on employees or have unrealistic demands based on their own inadequacies.

Take the time to develop a plan of action to address any issues uncovered before moving on to address situations inside your company. Once you have some level of personal satisfaction with yourself and family than you can start working on your employees. Remember, if you are worried about personal deficiencies or other personal issues; how are you going to be successful managing others?

After getting your personal situation straight, your mind will be clear to work on the quality of your relationships with employees. Work is no longer an escape from your problems at home; it becomes a tool to enhance your personal well being while serving others. From this foundation, you can start building your relationships with your employees.

The employee relationship realm consists of three levels. The top level is your leadership, which in effect proxy your own abilities to the next level of managers, then finally to individual employees. Start educating your leaders (executive level staff) on your vision for the company, ask about their expectations, and develop quality measures important to that group. Encourage your top level to improve their own situations before instructing managers on improving their relationships. This sometimes-slow process requires trust and a belief in higher corporate objectives.

Teach your leaders to convey this question asking method, having each individual to develop questions as they pertain to the company's objectives and their own expectations. Your leaders must ask managers about their expectations, in the same way managers will ask employees. Then representatives of employees (customer service manager, or other management level position) will ask about the expectations of customers. In order to maintain a reasonable length for this document, the rest of the relationship realms development will be addressed in another article.

While your staff works through strengthening employee relationships, take the opportunity to share your vision with the rest of the organization. Utilize your newsletters, public appearances, industry and speaking opportunities to state I see our company doing X in 5 years... Your consistent message reinforces the company's business objectives and builds continuity with the messages your managers are providing. If you constantly relay and address the concerns of each relationship realm, while developing a plan of action to carryout the objectives of the business -- your company will grow.

Each action performed by employees should reflect your vision and corporate beliefs. Employees should provide to customers in such a way it fulfills their desires with your products or services. This requires your company to constantly survey customers about their needs and expectations.

You are building a series of feedback loops to enable each realm to measure and adjust their business relationship based on the principles outlined. This is a developmental philosophy most easy to implement in small companies, but frequently lost in larger organizations.

The relationship realms build and reinforce your corporate service philosophy further helping you find the right people for your organization. In the same effort, this method helps identify and remove those individuals who are not constructive to your business objectives. While individuals are rewarded as they conform to the guidelines provided, they still have enough flexibility to do what is right for the customers they serve.

Overall, your company gains internal stability, and a consistent message that guides actions while addressing the needs of those realms you serve. While relationships grow, it becomes easier to educate customers about products or services, in effect reducing barriers to entry for new purchases. Consider relationship realms the oil for smooth and consistent business operations. How can you improve your business relationships today?

© Justin Hitt, All rights reserved.
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Justin Hitt is a consultant who specializes in growing relationships for executives in technology companies who want greater profits. For a copy of his newsletter Inside Strategic Relations visit

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