We often get the question from Business Relationship Managers (BRMs) on how to become more strategic. In 2017 I wrote an article on this topic for the Business Relationship Management Institute about how to move from being a tactical focused BRM to a strategic focused BRM. Since that time, we have coached Business Relationship Managers in different organizations, been involved in development of additional materials for the BRM Institute and did research in different areas (for instance where does BRM go in 2030 and beyond).
The elements in that original article still hold true. Here are some additional thoughts to supplement the original article.
Strategy is an important input to BRM, but for BRMs that want to become more strategic focused you need to add a clear purpose for yourself. Think about how you would define your purpose as a BRM and then build an approach on how to accomplish this. In coaching sessions we often find the challenge that the purpose of the role is not clear, which means it is difficult to assess what to focus on. Define your purpose based on what you love, what you are great at and what you are passionate about. A great way to do this is by using the approach as is described here.
Organizations need to focus on value – how to discover it, how to realize it and how to show the results. This is where BRM comes in. At this moment this is a new skill and mindset, in the next 5 years organizations will need to have this as a habit to stay in the game, which means the BRM might be less instigating the discussion and more being focused on how to address complexity around it. Value results need to be measured and validated. BRMs need to understand the concepts of the value framework to guide the organization.
Attending the Becoming a Value-Focused Organization workshop can help with understanding how to discover and measure value.
Behaviour and habits
Remember that team that worked really well. What was so special about the behaviours and habits of that team? Why did other teams not work that well? Understand what desirable behaviour is to make sure teams are successful. Change behaviours into habits (you don’t have to think about them anymore). Addressing behaviours and habits in a team is the leadership quality organizations look for. Strategic BRMs are those leaders.
We are currently in the process of introducing more guidance around around organizational behaviour management (coaching and workshops). Contact us if you want additional information around this.
As a strategic BRM you will have to be able to address complex issues. Realize it is not always suitable to use standard approaches to understand complexity. It is important to be able to make sure decisions are based on diversity – make sure different perspectives are being utilized in discussions. Our biases are often forcing us to only see a path one way. Strategic BRMs will be able to bring the right people at the table that can finding the path towards solutions and options.
Complexity is also creating the need to experiment to find out what will/will not work. Learn from these experiments to drive the organization towards it purpose. Of course the experiments need to be safe to fail. Strategic BRMs will be able to help define the experiments to be able to analyze further so the right decisions can be made.
Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. If you keep falling back on comfortable work (things you are familiar with), you will not be able to become a strategic BRM. Go into new territories, step into a leader role, etc. It is easy to do things you are comfortable with, and the organization will happily accept your great work. Think about if it fits with your purpose. Be ready to let things fail. If you give tactical work to someone else then sometimes it will fail. Make sure it is safe to fail, but you need to be ready to step away from the activities.
NOTE: There are situations where tactical work is required, you will have to assess what the value of that work is. It can be to repair a relationship, or build a relationship. Not everything is strategic work. As long as you know how it fits in your purpose, and you do operational activities with a strategic mindset you can handle it.
Being a strategic BRM can be exciting, and scary at the same time. Find a coach that can help you to focus on the right activities. They can help you finding your way out of challenges, preparing meetings or presentations. If you need to learn more about BRM attend one of the courses that can help you define the role of BRM. Click here to find the next line up of courses on BRM Professional certification.