working relationship
26-Jun-2021 By - team

No matter your role in business, the ability to build and maintain positive working relationships will be an essential component to your success. These relationships may be internal with colleagues or external with clients or potential business partners. Either way, those who can connect on a professional level and work productively together will be more likely to achieve more significant results. If you’re wondering how you can build more productive and positive working relationships, consider the below tips.

1. Make an effort to remember names

While remembering a name is a simple action, many of us struggle to do so. When you first meet someone, it is essential to repeat their name once they have been introduced. This will assist in you remembering their name moving forward and keep it top of mind.

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There is nothing worse than admitting that you have forgotten the name of your new contact – it looks unprofessional and, at times, rude. Remembering and using a person’s name helps you come across as professional and interested in what the person does rather than someone who does not care.

2. Note something unique about the person

If someone is comfortable with you, they will likely share some brief information on their family or personal interests. If you are looking to build lasting and positive working relationships, try to note one or two of these things down if you feel that you cannot remember them.

A simple question or comment about their interest, such as ‘How was golf on the weekend, John?’, knowing that John enjoys golf, can significantly assist in forming a personalised, professional relationship. Comments like this show the contact you genuinely take an interest in and are a pleasant person to network with.

3. Go above and beyond

In today’s fast-paced business world, we are often too busy with our projects to lend a hand or put additional efforts into tasks. If it is internal relationships you’re looking to build, try to offer to help colleagues when they need assistance, or show that you’re committed to the team rather than just your gain. When it comes to external contacts or clients, showing that you’re willing to put in more effort than required will make them feel valued.

This can assist significantly in building positive working relationships as it is a personalised approach that demonstrates your character. If time is not on your side, show you can go above and beyond in other ways unique to your role or organisation.

Ten tips to improve supplier relationships

Organisations successful in managing supply chains understand the value of managing effective relationships with their suppliers. These organisations have a knack for building trust and confidence with their suppliers, leading to knowledge sharing and identifying improvement opportunities.

Based on two decades of establishing and supporting central supplier relationships for Australia’s largest organisations, here are the 10 best tips to improve supplier relationships and contract performance.

1. Be proactive

Addressing issues, challenges and problems as they arrive to prevent them from rotting into something more serious. Early and frank discussion and action will build trust and respect.

2. Communicate regularly and effectively

Communication creates a shared understanding. A shared sense helps avoid confusion and disagreement. Effective communication includes a regular and healthy dose of face-to-face discussion. Contract Managers should avoid hiding behind emails. And remember, communication is a two-way street.

3. Establish roles and responsibilities and remember them

Performance = ability x motivation x clarity of role description. Both parties need to clearly understand their role, the role of their counterpart and how the two fit together to leverage the value and achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.

4. Understand  the contractual obligations

There is a widely held view that a good contract relationship is one where the contract can be used as a doorstop! Right? Wrong.

Service takers, contract managers and shareholders alike need to have confidence that the supplier is delivering what they are being paid.

In a positive contract relationship, both sides understand and uphold their obligations.

5. Behave ethically and honestly at all times

Trust is hard to gain and easy to lose. Gaining a reputation for behaving ethically and honestly will go a long way to developing trust, and trust will go a long way to developing relationships.

6. Regularly review the deliverables and performance

Every contract manager wants to know that they are receiving the service they need and to the standard they expect. Performance review should be more than just a measurement exercise. It should be an exercise in continual improvement.

7. Identify and monitor risks

Risks can’t be managed until they are identified and monitored. Work with your supplier to ensure that risks are identified at all levels of operations.

8. Seek professional advice

You probably don’t diagnose your medical problems or fix your car. Know when the time is right to seek third-party advice from a lawyer, a subject matter expert, or a consultant.

9. Be reasonable and fair

Nobody responds to a manager who is heavy-handed, unreasonable or unfair. Be consistent in how you manage your supplier. Take a balanced approach and be mindful of extenuating circumstances that may be impacting a situation.

10. Establish the basis of the working relationship

Set the foundations for the relationship from the get-go. That means understanding the relationship you want before you even start the process. Then write a contract, engage the market, manage negotiations and undertake transition in a manner that reflects the intended working relationship.

While not all organisations exhibit these behaviours, those that do, develop more robust, more reliable and more cost-effective long term relationships.


Return on relationship: How accountants can build client engagement

It’s never been more crucial for accountants to build deep, strong and lasting relationships with their clients.

Andrew Albury FCPA, a director and senior private client adviser at MGD Wealth in Brisbane, argues that traditional accountants need to lift their game to compete with financial planners. He notes that automation and cheaper offshore options are reducing the value of providing compliance services.

“Thanks to recent regulatory changes to the licensing regime, the lines between the services provided by accountants and financial planners are blurring, and many people coming into the profession have skills in both these areas,” he says.

Furthermore, while many accountants’ work involves looking backwards at what has happened, financial planners help their clients plan for the future, often leading to a deeper relationship with clients.

“Accountants need to involve themselves in things not easily replicated on the internet,” says Albury.

“Communications, marketing and personal skills will be more highly rated than technical skills and number-crunching. And these are skills that many in the financial planning industry possess.”

This sentiment appears to be confirmed by a recent study by CPA Australia.

“Our research shows that the desirable qualities for accountants are trustworthiness, knowledge and qualifications, and these are the areas accountants perform best in,” says Peter Docherty, general manager, public practice at CPA Australia.

“The research has also highlighted the ongoing need to focus on certain soft skills that clients are looking for. These include being approachable, friendly and engaging.”

So how do accountants start building these skills and improving relationships with clients? Read on …

Get out and about

“Partners in smaller accounting firms should let the people lower down the chain do the compliance and tax work and free themselves up to be proactively sitting in front of clients and trying to add some value to their client’s businesses,” says Albury.

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“A common complaint from many of our clients is that they never see their accountants. As advisers, we are out on the streets all the time. We would much prefer to be sitting face-to-face with a client and on their turf rather than ours.”

Mark Holton CPA, a director of Smithink, which consults with accounting firms, agrees you can’t beat direct communication.

“Social media, newsletters and emails are wonderful strategies to engage clients, but how do you know whether your clients are reading and understanding them?”

Become more client-centric

Albury believes in putting clients and their needs at the centre of everything an accountant does.

“Accountants, historically, have always played a central role in a client’s world, and they need to position themselves better to keep this role. To remain relevant, they need to become almost a one-stop-shop.”

He suggests a move to total wealth management that includes superannuation, estate planning, investments estate planning, tax structures and succession planning.

“These all have a role to play. Looking at them in isolation doesn’t make sense. You need to ensure that all these areas are talking to each other appropriately. You can make this happen through a network of good referral partners.

“But I would suggest accountants also become actively involved in the referral process. Don’t just hand out a phone number because you may lose control of the relationship. Accompany the client to the meeting if you’re holding their hand through the process, they will still think you’re pretty good [because you facilitated the meeting with the expert].”

Know your client better

Greg Hayes, a managing director of Easton Investments and founder of Hayes Knight NSW, believes the key to building a solid relationship is to know your clients and their businesses better, “so they feel that you have their best interests at heart and have taken time to understand them”.

Albury agrees. “Know what their kids are up to, what’s happening with their health. All of those things are conversation starters. I’d usually spend the first 15 minutes to half an hour of every meeting with a client talking socially. Everyone knows people like talking about themselves, and it puts them in the right frame of mind for whatever they have come to.

“Don’t just see the hourglass. This needs a different model of remuneration, and ultimately you will be able to charge what you need to because of the deeper relationship and [how] that helps you to add value.”

Holton is a big believer in doing a needs analysis with a client.

“You sit down with them face-to-face and talk about their issues, strengths, weaknesses, risks, funding issues and succession planning. At Smithink, we have a document with about 100 open-ended questions to ask clients.

This is a relationship-building exercise. It also shows clients that we have a specific interest in all parts of their business. Plus, it gives us a firm understanding of what the client needs to deliver some of those extraordinary services such as business advisory, estate planning and financial planning. It’s all about getting to know what keeps the client awake at night.”

Be more proactive

Hayes says it’s vital to anticipate where your client is heading rather than just reacting to what’s happening in your client’s life.

“If you can start providing advice to the client on where they are heading, then you start to add serious value to the relationship. This requires you to have spent enough time with your clients to understand them as individuals – and their businesses. Not everyone will be the same, and you can’t deliver value in the same way.”

Communicate more often

Recent CPA Australia research on client loyalty shows tax time should be a means of opening doors to a deeper relationship with clients.

Docherty adds, “Our findings also highlight a need to continually communicate the scope of services that accountants can provide, so they avoid being continually positioned as taxation specialists or providing transactional advice.”

Holton also recommends creating more regular communication touchpoints so that accountants can get to know the client better and become more proactive in adding value. These, Docherty says, can include regular newsletters, social media, client surveys and running seminars and client events.

“Accountants need a very rounded marketing plan adopting all these things, but you can’t beat having a cup of coffee with a client, chatting about them, their business, family and goals. This builds your relationship and is also a service identification opportunity. You should do it at least annually.”

Hayes believes accountants can also formalise the way they engage with their clients. “For example, they could ensure they speak to their better clients once a month, keep them informed about what’s going on and invite them to client events that they run. It’s about showing clients they are not just a number; you care for them.”

Take corrective action early.

If there are signs a relationship may be souring, Hayes recommends taking a step back.

“Try to identify what the problem is. It’s always easier to deal with a problem if you know what it is. Then sit down with the client and try to come up with solutions. The reality is that the job is never done. No one has the perfect client relationship management system, and anyone who says they do is probably misleading themselves. Client management will keep changing, and you have to keep managing that.” 

Guest post by : team Form -

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