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People often talk about the importance of good business relationships. But what exactly is a business relationship? Is it, as one dictionary defines it, “A connection between two or more parties based on the commercial activity of one of the partners”, or is it much more layered and nuanced than that? At K2, we see ‘business relationship’ as an umbrella term which encompasses the following three internal relationships…

Relationships with Colleagues

The relationships that we develop with our colleagues play a key role in setting the tone and defining behaviours within our working environment. At K2, these relationships are promoted through ‘Q’, which is the essence of our company culture. Whilst ‘Q’ isn’t so easy to define, you could say that it embodies what is unique or special about each individual: for some, it manifests itself in the car pool that they’ve organised to save their colleagues petrol money; for others, it takes the form of teaching a colleague a new skill which will help them to streamline their working process.

For CEO Nick Plummer, it is “…personal and shared commitment, passion, fearlessness, kindness, friendship, stoicism, openness, understanding and selflessness, to name just a few.” James Marshall, Global Marketing Director, sees it as “The thing that makes K2: the thing that’s inside you and inside us all.

Relationships with Managers

Our relationship with our manager is likely to determine both our enjoyment of our role and the way that we perform. And for this reason, relationships within the context of good management are taken very seriously at K2, with managers regularly taking part in relevant training sessions. Recently, for example, managers participated in a three-day leadership development programme delivered by the Matt Hampson Foundation, which Global Account Director Sarah Coles described as an experience which left her “…buzzing, as it really did have a physical and cognitive impact, leaving me feeling energised, motivated and very positive.

Most people would agree that one quality which defines an effective manager is their ability to flex management style to suit the different working and learning styles of each team member. Of course, responsibility for developing this relationship doesn’t rest solely with the manager. Each individual should work with their manager to develop a style of communication which suits and works for both parties – as with any relationship, responsibility for making it work is shared and there needs to be give and take on both sides.

Relationships with our CEO and Business Leaders

In a company the size of K2, it is unusual for the CEO to be present in the day-to-day lives of the employees. But for Nick, being accessible is hugely important and he sees it as integral to his role. Furthermore, he expects all of K2’s leaders to be equally visible and accessible. The majority of Nick’s working days are spent in K2’s UK Office – K255, Guildford. Nick doesn’t have an office and so he sits somewhere different each day, getting in amongst it and getting to know each different team member. He also tries to maintain connectivity between K2’s twelve international offices, visiting each as often as he can with the intention of meeting the teams. The company is continuing to grow at pace – there’s a lot of names to remember, but that doesn’t faze Nick. When he flew out to the Brazil Office last Autumn, he printed off the office’s organisation chart before he boarded the plane, then spent the flight learning names and faces so that he could greet people personally when he met them.

Nick also makes a real effort to officially acknowledge and celebrate employee achievements  – whether it’s celebrating an employee’s 10 Years at K2, or having lunch with employees who have passed professional exams. K2’s CEO makes both a point and a priority of being present, a commitment which he expects all our leaders to make: the strength of the consequent internal relationships which develop ensure that the integrity of our culture remains uncompromised as we develop and grow.

To conclude, all three of the above internal relationships are key examples of ‘business relationships’. In addition, they play a key role in making K2 a Great Place To Work®, a certification which proves that the company is a place where everyone, no matter who they are or what they do, has a consistently positive experience. Without the daily benefit that these relationships bring, K2 would not be able to thrive, to retain its employees, to attract world-class talent and to deliver on its promise of unwavering service excellence.

Look out for Part II, External Relationships, coming Tuesday 28th February.

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