7 Habits of The Highly Effective Engineer Part 7 - Relationships Matter

Paul Vickers
Aug 16, 2021 1:31:59 PM

7 Habits Series - Synergize

Relationships Matter

Active listening from the previous part will help you develop the 6th habit - Synergy, or as I like to call it; Relationships Matter. 

Because we live in a team-oriented business world, don't we? We're all co-dependent, we need each other to achieve success. I've never had a job I could go it alone. So what I want to do is nurture relationships up, down, and across the organization. 

I just want to make sure people, when they interact with me, they feel good. It's a positive experience, and they look forward to it. 

I remember, I had a boss that I told you about before, that would say, 

Paul, How is it that when we go to these people from anywhere across the organization, they just seem to drop everything and hop on what you're doing.  How do I get them to do that?

And he was looking for an organizational answer. "I'm a Director, they should do that."

Mine was, oh, I've worked with you in the past, I scratched your back, you scratched my back. We've helped each other before. So when I ask, they did it out of a sense of togetherness, not organizational directive. This is because we had a relationship where we worked together and they knew they would get credit for the work they did from me to their boss, to their boss's boss, and they would be recognized. Now, I never asked for them to do anything like dropping their job, it was just that if I needed help, they would help, and vice versa. 

So you want to make sure you develop some relationships. Especially on the shop floor where the real action is. I take pride in working in some of the toughest union shops and developing relationships with the guys and gals on the shop floor, because they had trust. I told them, look here's what we're going to do, we're going to collect this data, let the chips fall where they may. You know, they trusted me on that, and it really helped me go farther. That's because mutual trust or respect leads to synergy; one plus one equals three. 

And that's how you can exceed expectations, developing a real framework for teamwork and that's going to be; work on relationships.

The Donut Theory

I had a boss once who taught me one of these relationship tools. He called it the Donut Theory.  I was working in a shipyard, and I couldn't get anything shipped, even though I filled out all the paperwork. He said, 

Look Paul, just show up every day with a box of donuts and get to know these people in the shipping department. Get to know who their kids are, which ones are playing tee-ball, baseball, volleyball, whatever, just get to know them.  Talk to them.

Wow, it was really interesting, after I developed a relationship with them at my boss's suggestion, all of a sudden I didn't have any problem getting anything shipped!

Now, at the time, I was a little mad. I mean, I was young, and I didn't understand why it had mattered whether I knew them or not. My boss took me aside and said, "Look, Paul, it is just human nature. They are stuck between shipping two things and one of them is going to be late, Which package are they are going to ship? The one for the person they know, or the one for the person they don't? The person they know, not the nameless person. You did nothing wrong, you just didn't recognize the importance of teamwork."

So again, building on the shoulder of giants. I am just so lucky that I've had so many great mentors who have taught me. 


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