The importance of building relationships



Commentary by Lt. Col. Darin C. Williams
55th Comptroller Squadron commander


8/7/2012 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Relationships and how we treat people matter. I have learned many things over my career but none more essential than the importance of relationships and treating people right.

The importance of building relationships and treating people right can help you achieve mission success. I have worked at all levels of the Air Force and without fail, relationships and treating people right at each level has allowed me to be successful and help my unit accomplish its mission. From base level to major commands to the Pentagon and in the Area of Responsibility...the one constant for success has been building relationships and treating people right.

If you take it upon yourself to set the standard, it will make those around you better. Building better relationships means interacting with those around you, sharing your knowledge and experiences. As you build relationships, chances are those around you will benefit from your experiences and knowledge, enabling them to grow professionally and personally.

Having a good relationship in place and being trusted to do the right thing may help someone in need or save someone's life. Chances are you will eventually come across someone that is facing a difficult situation in their personal or professional life. If you've already built a relationship with that person, you'll be in a good position to assist them with their situation.

If not, you can still assist that person by devoting time to them, in turn, building a new relationship. I challenge you to be on the lookout for someone that is facing a tough situation and build a genuine relationship with them - you never know, your actions may save a life.

The most important relationship a person has is the relationship with their family. When you hang up the uniform, it will be your family that will remain by your side. It's critical that you focus on your family and their needs throughout your career so that when you hang up the uniform, you have a healthy relationship with your family.

Here are some things that have worked for me:

- Take the time to get to know the folks around you, both professionally and personally. This enables you to assess their strengths and weaknesses, identify issues they may be facing, show that you care, and receive honest feedback. Take the time to get out and communicate with people and not just when you need something from them. By doing this, you'll be in a position to better utilize your personnel, understand dips in productivity, identify changes in behavior, increase morale, and improve your operations.

- Be a good listener. The Air Force is full of amazing people with great ideas, a myriad of experiences, and diverse backgrounds. Listen to their ideas, goals, feedback and needs. People appreciate it when they know they have a voice and it's heard.

- Be genuine. Take the time to build relationships and take care of people because you want to and because it's the right thing to do. People can sense when someone is disingenuous.

- Be respectful. Being respectful is a critical factor in building relationships and treating people right. Regardless of the situation or what people are involved with - be respectful.

Relationships matter and how we treat people matter. It takes time to build relationships and to take care of people. It's not something that just happens, you have to make it a priority and work at it. I know time is a precious commodity given all the demands on our time in today's world. However, the time investment you make into relationships and people will pay huge dividends, both professionally and personally.