Monday, February 19, 2018

Building Bridges


High Bridge, 1929 - Louis Lozowick

Over the last couple of years, as we have been driving back and forth to visit the girls at school, we had the unique pleasure of watching them build the replacement to the Tappan Zee bridge, a large familiar structure that spans the Hudson River.  You know that there had to be a lot of people involved, a lot of planning and a lot of communication.  Any project, whether large or small, needs to have the leaders develop the means by which relationships are developed and maintained.  In any group that pulls together to become a team, needs to build the necessary bridges to best lead towards success.  In fact, even a pair of people must develop a proper relationship to meet shared goals.  It is important to note how we treat peers, fellow workers, family, friends and casual acquaintances.

I was picked up, after recently visiting my brother in Florida, by an Uber driver.  As we were pulling away to head towards the airport, he noticed that the previous passenger had left her cell phone.  He commented that she was traveling with two other friends and she would probably call.  Sure enough, the cell rang.  While I could not hear exactly, the previous passenger blamed the situation on the driver, demanded her phone be returned immediately and said she could not live without her phone.  The driver did the right thing and said he had a customer and would return it afterwards.  She was not happy and treated the innocent man poorly.  I do not know what happened after I got out of the car, but it would be understandable if the driver took his time returning the phone.  There are some lessons that can be learned from this experience: Double check for your belongings when you leave a space (plane, car, hotel), to take responsibility for your actions, and most importantly, to learn to build relationships to ensure better communication and service. 

I know people who can build a relationship well using their phones as a primary means of communicating.  These are general people in sales or customer service.  I know people who can build relationships well by being face-to-face.  I work in the Project Management world, so for me a phone call is a great way to follow up, but the best means, for me, is being with the people I work with.  There is no better way to build understanding, communicate intentions and make a connection then being there with them.  When you are face-to-face, you can watch their body language and their facial expressions, which in some cases tell a different story than from a phone call, text message or email. 

As a Project Manager, it is important to remember that we always work in teams.  We may lead the team; we may be part of the team or even take on a role within the team.  This is a team; or group effort.  Along similar lines, while Debbie and I were recently out to dinner, a young man, with his girlfriend next to him, asked us if you compromise in marriage.  Debbie answered, “All the time,” and I responded “It is a team effort.”  While we both have our own opinions and ideas, a team of two is similar to a team of many.  Thoughts should be shared, different thinking should be vetted against one another, and diverse experiences should be brought forth.  If I were to surround myself with a pack of Waynes, I potentially could wander down a path which would lead me from my better potential.  Relationships are important in working together, challenging our thoughts and providing better outcomes.  Building bridges are an important part of striving towards our goals and achieving success.

“No man is an island,
Entire of itself;
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.

If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less,
As well as if a promontory were:
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were.

Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.” ~ John Donne