Relationship Management

cognitive readiness social intelligence Jan 24, 2024

“The sales department sucks.”

That was the first sentence out of Paige’s mouth. Paige was tasked with improving the relationship between her engineering department and the company’s sales department. There was a bit of tension there.

This task trickled its way down from corporate through her boss, the division’s vice-president. There was a corporate push to improve employee engagement, surveys were frequent, and initiatives were routine. The push had been going on for enough time that it was starting to fade into the background, but her VP was bringing it up again.

So, how did Paige and her department handle the sales team? They didn’t, they avoided them as much as possible. On top of “the sales department sucks” came lines like “they’er the golden child” and “our input doesn’t matter”. Ultimately, the sales department was preferred and could do no wrong. While all the other departments (not just Paige’s) came in second and so began distancing themselves.

You may think this is a story about Paige and her department, but in fact, it’s a story about the VP and upper management.


Upper management sucked at relationship management.

Relationship management is your ability to get the best out of others, to inspire and influence, to communicate and build bonds, and to help everyone grow, develop, and resolve conflict. This includes understanding how co-workers are interacting.

Did upper management not have social awareness nor practice active listening? Did they only think there was a problem between the departments because a survey was recorded? Or were they trying to avoid the conflict altogether? Regardless, there was a problem, their problem, but they chose to dump it on an unarmed subordinate.

Many folks in upper management or with a business background might argue that sales IS the most important department. But if you argue that, you’re deflecting. If any department is preferred, you have a horrible work culture, and relationship management is one of the most important skills you can learn and practice. In order to have a successful working team, you must manage the relationships you have with your favorites, while at the exact same time, manage your relationships with those you’ve deemed inferior.

A successful work culture starts with great leadership. Everyone should feel supported and empowered to develop healthy relationships:

- Boundaries should be set to show that all are welcome and that no one person or group is more important than another.

- Gratitude should be shown to everyone, especially if you want everyone to contribute.

- Time with teammates should be divided evenly.

By ignoring relationships or not managing them well, problems will arise:

- A lack of trust begins to spread throughout those you ignore.

- Poor conflict resolution leads to silos and avoidance.

- Shoddy communication angers customers faster and more intensely than any delay ever will.


Paige was in a bind. She was directed to fix a broken relationship that she was a casualty of. So, instead of working to fix the problem, she moved on to another opportunity.

Paige found purpose again in her new role. She used this previous experience to tease out relationship management data during her interviews. She actually turned down one offer because she recognized some red flags. When Paige did land her new position, it was a shock to her system at how energetic meetings became while everyone was open to sharing and contributing, and she was supported by co-workers from all levels of the new company.

Sometimes the grass is greener.

You may not be able to change others, but you can always change yourself. How is your relationship management? Do you feel as though you get along with most people? Do others feel comfortable around you? If not, let’s dive deeper into Social Intelligence topics, and see where you might be able to improve.

References: [59]

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