Over the New Year break I got chatting to a woman at a party.
We were talking about business and came round to the subject of how to gauge whether potential colleagues and clients are right for us. She told me about a couple of people on her team whose hearts didn’t seem to be in it anymore. She was wondering whether she should persevere with them just because they have all worked together for a long time and have done well in the past.
We ended up having a great conversation about how we actually choose and stick with people – be they clients, colleagues, friends or partners. Here are some of the things we came up with:
Does being with them feel good? I told her about a friend of mine who describes people as either ‘radiators’ or ‘drains’. She resonated with that. I do think when a person walks into the room you either feel lifted or, in the worst case, your heart might sink. I’d say that to do your best work you need to be with people who mostly cause ‘lift’. .
Can you be yourself and can they be themselves? The best and most satisfying relationships are where you can be authentic and so can the other person. Bringing your real self, your values and strengths, to the situation is crucial for great teamwork, trust and success. Not every potential client, colleague, friend or partner is going to be a good fit for your values and strengths, and that’s totally fine. If you’re having to compromise who you really are in any relationship, it will always feel like hard work. .
Does working with them feel enlivening? I always ask myself whether my team and I feel positive and excited about the prospect of working with a potential client. If we don’t, we don’t take on the work because we wouldn’t be able to do it with the same gusto that applies with people and projects that interest and excite us. ..
Does your intuition say yes? I’ve ignored my intuition in the past and regretted it. If I’m getting any ‘red flags’ I look into things more deeply to understand why that is, as the chances are there is something going on that might mean the project or person wouldn’t be a good idea for me. Conversely, if I have positive intuition about something I clock that too.
Happy 2020 everyone, and may you find all the right people to work with this year!
If you would like to gain more insight into yourself and your strengths, values and motivations, take a look at The Strengths Workbook.
Sally Bibb is the author of Strengths-based Recruitment and Development: A Practical Guide to Transforming Talent Management Strategy for Business Results and The Strengths Book: Discover How to Be Fulfilled in Your Work and in Life, and is a leading strengths expert.