Recently, I had the displeasure of having to end a long-term relationship with an agency partner. If you know me, you know that I’m extremely loyal to people, brands and companies that do great work, give it 100% and have a positive, passionate outlook. I hate changing agencies because I hate losing all the institutional knowledge they’ve gained about our business. I hate the RFP and evaluation process. I hate the risk factor – a new agency may not work out and you’ve wasted precious time and money. And I hate feeling disloyal myself. I’ve been on the agency side and I know what if feels like to be fired by a good client. People lose their jobs. Promotions are jeopardized. Relationships you’ve had for years can be damaged, even lost.
As I was making the decision to move to a new agency, I started thinking that an agency relationship is no different than other work relationships. If you’re not careful, a very strong work relationship can turn sour. Sometimes it happens so slowly, you don’t even see it coming. But you should never let a strong relationship slip away.
In honor of Valentine’s Day, and the topic of loving relationships being in the air, here are 4 clear signs you are in a work relationship that is in trouble. Ignore them and a break-up is inevitable.
Email has replaced conversation and in-person meetings.
Nothing beats human conversation over the phone, on the screen or in person. When you make the time to directly converse, you are not only more productive but you build bonds. If you’re in a work relationship that has moved from direct conversation to email only, your relationship is in trouble.
Your relationship is not top of mind.
Often, whenever there is a problem or new idea to be confronted or shared, you turn to your strongest work relationships to brainstorm. It’s usually the first person or team you think of that is your strongest relationship at work. If your work relationship has turned to a second thought – or worse – after thought status, you are in a relationship in danger of failing.
Things feel boring.
Boredom kills all relationships – inside and outside of your work life. Work relationships thrive with fresh ideas, collaboration, thinking of new ways to improve. If you and your work relationship are same-old, same-old, you’re headed for splitsville.
You go out less, if ever.
Every healthy work relationship includes a small dose of outside-work fun. An occasional happy hour, lunch, morning coffee, dinner, ball game – something that creates and retains connections. When I started working with our agency, we would meet up once a month for a drink after work, or do an annual holiday dinner to thank both teams. I haven’t been out with them in over two years. Relationship…over.