Yes. All great relationship management starts here.

keep calm

An objective advisor is vital for successful relationship management

After 14 years leading client services in agencies, managing the dynamic relationships you’d expect to find in successful companies such as British Airways or Costa Coffee, I moved client-side. And the rich and varied experience I gained there – helping client-side marketers in organisations such as Mercedes Benz and Land Securities to manage their agencies – then drew me towards relationship management, with its myriad complexities.

In that time, I’ve realised there’s one thing in relationship management that’s as important, if not more so, to have than all of the practical tools and techniques we use. Objectivity.

See the wood, not the trees – to read a review, use feedback, or interpret a result in a way that better articulates the challenges than either an agency or a client could.

Get to the root cause and real truth – to dig deeper, by working out what’s actually creating problems rather than working on a fix to what seems like the ‘current’ problem.

Acknowledge the elephant in the room – to help a team that’s holding back, to surface the reality of a situation when people are unable or unwilling to articulate the real issues.

Deepen the conversation – to stimulate a discussion, and to get people talking in a way that makes them feel they can open up, safely.

Say what everyone else is thinking – to be the voice – quite literally, to say what can’t be said.

Re-energise the teams around actions that really matter –to champion two or three things that will really make a difference rather than adding them to an already “too long to do’ list.

Coach outside of the core process – to help the teams get the most from any process, warming them up before reviewing each other, coaching them afterwards to see things through.

Turn a real struggle into an achievable goal – to provide that neutral, focused energy and a renewed enthusiasm for the team that’s going to crack that problem, whatever it may be.

Use my muscle memory on a team’s behalf – to remember, to remind and to help people find the courage to ‘give it another go’, knowing a plan is now in place to solve the problem this time.

And above all — objectivity has a huge part to play in…

Celebrating success – because all too often, the focus is on what needs fixing. Being objective means finding balance, too, and genuinely acknowledging all the hard work, dedication and intelligent thinking that’s in a room.

Objectivity is key. I like taking this role, I love seeing the results that it delivers. Sometimes it’s simply the introduction of a neutral party – a really good relationship manager – that’s what’s needed to take teams forward.

Marina Lumley

Founder Greengrass


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