Four times a year, I head up to Albany to visit and learn from curriculum teams from all of our RESA’s (Regional Education Service Agencies) across the state. These meetings are meant to be an opportunity to focus on themes and issues that are important to our state, and to hear from those with the expertise (both at our state education department, and beyond) to help us help our districts. The meetings involve opportunities to collaborate together, as well as ways to consider new and innovative services.
During these meetings there is also time to discuss collaboration within our own regions, something that is easier for some joint teams than for others. In some parts of the state collaboration plays a key role, while in others, competition, or fear of it, makes true collaboration difficult.
Regardless of how teams work together, I’m always left thinking about relationships as I head up to Albany for our quarterly meetings. I wonder about why some relationships form that lead to years of positive work together, and why some never seem to take off. Over the last few years, I’ve come to conclude that relationships form, or don’t, based on three characteristics.
Personality. We all have personalities that are both etched from birth, and that develop over time. And, for better or worse, we are often tasked with working with those whose personalities don’t match our own; or who do things in ways that we don’t understand. Who we are greatly impacts who we want to spend our time with, and therefore relationships form, or don’t, based on personality similarities and differences.
Purpose. We come to all relationships with present goals, and past experiences. That means that as we build relationships, we are also considering those whose purposes are aligned with our own. First, it makes it easier to accomplish things when purposes are parallel. Second, it is always easier to devise and then modify goals when all parties have a clear vision of potential end points. A key question to ask when considering relationships: “What are our goals and who do they align with?”
Projection. Relationships are also formed with the future in mind. We might ask ourselves, “Strategically, which relationships will help us achieve the most for those we directly serve?” And, therefore, there are times when relationships are formed (or not) based on what can potentially happen in the future. This is risky, because projection isn’t always the most accurate reason to form a relationship. But, when projections are correct, relationships can be incredibly beneficial to all involved.
These “3Ps” of relationship-building aren’t research-based; they are based on my experiences, however. I’m always one to consider “personality,” “purpose,” and “projection” when building relationships with others.