A Deep Dive Into Building Relationships with Tom Houston

A Deep Dive Into Building Relationships

Tom Houston - SMM

There is an increasing awareness of the importance of building relationships with team mates and how this makes such a great impact on work ethic, efficiency and productivity in the workplace.  

Our guest today has 47 years of experience in the workplace and, having worked in every role imaginable from shop floor to management positions, he has a depth of knowledge in the mining industry and the importance of taking care of his team.  Tom Houston was a guest on our podcast earlier this year and we have him back today to take a deeper dive into the skills he utilises to build genuine relationships and obtain great results on site.

In his younger years, Tom found that he could naturally get on well with people of all ages.  In his view, it was a matter of following the basics of showing respect, listening and taking an interest in someone.  In this episode, Tom shares in more detail the simple things we can do each day to build genuine relationships which foster trust, credibility and mutual respect.  It’s often as simple as remembering a person’s name.

Reflecting on a time whilst working for a large mining company in Mongolia, Tom shares about a time he utilised the help of a chart to remember the names of the men and women working on his team.  Tom’s efforts to build personal connections not only made an impact on site, but proved to have ongoing benefits as he reaped the rewards of having established mutual trust with his team.

Humans are very complex creatures, yet often it’s the simple things that make a big difference on our lives.  In this episode, Tom reiterates the importance of keeping things simple and being consistent and fair with the people around us.  When a culture of respect and trust flows from the top, it will naturally filter into all aspect of the company and produce excellent results.

Some Topics That We Cover

  • 2:08 – How Tom learned to build relationships with people to get the best out of them
  • 3:15 – Tom realised as a teenager that he was really good at connecting with the elderly and kids. Simple things like listening, communication and respect
  • 4:15 – The value of knowing a person’s name and saying hello
  • 4:46 – The importance of building trust and relatability over time to get the best out of your team
  • 5:25 – Don’t take credit for other people’s success
  • 6:30 – Specific stories around how Tom learned to work with people from other cultures
  • 9:00 – Reinforcing the simple things that you can do to get to know people that you’re working with, building the relationships and working towards their goals too
  • 11:00 – Don’t be afraid to apologise if you’re wrong, especially as a supervisor or higher up
  • 12:10 – Being upfront and communicate with your team as to what is going on at any given time
  • 12:30 – Involving your team with problem solving ideas. Don’t underestimate your team
  • 14:10 – The three key things people want to know:
    • What do you want me to do?
    • How am I doing against that?
    • How am I going to progress – what does my future look like?
  • 16:15 – The importance of bringing issues to the attention of your team mates at the time and not just waiting until a performance review to let them know of any issues
  • 18:00 – An example of a time when machine reliability was directly affected by the strong positive relationships that Tom had developed
  • 23:26 – The benefits of using a self-directed work team system
  • 25:15 – The key messages from Tom’s example of a positive plant result:
    • Clear communication
    • A board that is the single source of the truth
    • Giving the teams the tools that they need to do their job properly
  • 28:30 – For a leader to be successful they have to have courage, to be consistent and they have to be fair
  • 29:30 – You have to have a clear message that comes from the top of the organisation and is fed through. Keep it simple and don’t have too many key messages.
  • 35:16 – How beneficial it is to be able to express the things within the business that are frustrating or annoying, and look at ways to resolve them as a team

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