By developing and relying on the fundamentals of the good business relationship, we’ll always be able to bounce back
Building a good business relationship with both internal and external partners and employees is the lifeblood of virtually all business. You’ve got your outward-facing relationships (customers, potential customers, the market) and your inward-facing relationships (employees, business partners, and other stakeholders). Both kinds are required in order for any kind of commerce to take place.
In other words, wherever a company exists, relationships can be found there — but that doesn’t automatically mean they are good ones.
The business relationship: quality over quantity
Quality is at least as important as quantity. Patients whose doctors are kind and empathetic actually have better outcomes. Employers who treat their employees and stakeholders well are more profitable and better poised for growth.
The question, then, is this: Are you supporting your practice with the kind of relationships that will allow it to prosper in the long run?
There’s no such thing as a perfect relationship, of course. But with all that goes into providing top-notch health care — sometimes we don’t pay enough attention to how we’re acting as people.
To that end, there are three relationship qualities that can never be stressed enough.
3 building blocks of solid relationships
Professionalism — By and large, the health care community is made up of highly respectable, ethical people. Unfortunately, there are exceptions. Practicing intolerance; badmouthing colleagues; letting office politics interfere with work; betraying patients’ trust; all of these are obviously a detriment to any practice, and yet it’s easy to get comfortable with them happening right in front of us.
In many cases, unprofessionalism is something that can’t be erased. Retrospective action doesn’t undo the damage done. Prevention is key, which means not only maintaining professional behavior continuously but also making sure your staff does the same. Leading by example and being explicit about expectations are two of the best ways to make sure everyone in the office lives up to your standards for professionalism.
Transparency — The positive effects of transparency are many and various. For starters, it builds trust — good for both employee engagement and customer satisfaction. If it’s modeled throughout the organization, it will also help attract high-quality job applicants, referral partners, and investors, should you need them.
The more transparency, the better and faster the problem-solving. Sharing information enables mutual understanding and empowers the people involved to do something about an issue. Withholding information does the opposite.
Transparency can take the form of being honest with a patient about the outcomes you can provide, or it can take the form of having a tough conversation with someone rather than complaining about them behind their back. In both examples, everyone involved will see a better outcome.
Acting transparently isn’t so difficult but building a culture of it can be. Again, leading by example goes a long way, but you also have to make sure that colleagues and employees know how to give and take honest, constructive feedback.
Follow-through — The ability to follow through is another quality that’s useful in numerous contexts and has a range of benefits, which is why I see it as a fundamental tool for the business relationship in general. Put simply: The more follow-through you exhibit, the more trust and respect you engender.
We all make promises every day to our patients, our staff, our colleagues, and other stakeholders we have relationships with. Many of those promises are unspoken, but that doesn’t make them less important.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos — one of history’s most successful entrepreneurs — has said on multiple occasions that earning a good reputation is about “doing hard things well” over and over. Even when the things we try to do turn out to be harder than we thought, and even when others disagree with them, the willingness to see them through has a lasting effect on our personal brand.
Building up from here
When you’re in the habit of staying professional, maintaining transparency, and following through on your goals and promises, it puts you in a position to recover quickly from any setback. From time to time, we all lose — clients, business partners, market share, you name it. As the past year taught us, we might even wind up in the middle of a massive economic downturn due to something totally unpredictable.
By relying on the fundamentals of the good business relationship, we’ll always be able to bounce back. Investing in them now for ourselves and our practices will be the source of resilience for years to come.