When we think of work, we often think in terms of projects, tasks, and deliverables. This approach often extends to considerations involving the most important part of any business: Its people.
Regardless of industry, size of business or location, sourcing and hiring new employees requires the development of a robust talent retention strategy along with a playbook for dealing with the day-to-day occurrences at the workplace. Such codexes exist of course, however, they can be inadequate if their core focus is aligned solely with the input/output of the organization.
An often neglected aspect is the relationship being forged at every level of the business. These include the connections between managers and employees and the relationships between members of different teams and departments. In the typical modern organization, these relationships are often not considered a priority.
Are they really that important?
Consider the examples of organizations A and B. Organization A follows the traditional input/output approach and doesn’t proactively encourage relationships between its employees, or between the leadership and the workforce. As a result, employees are minimally attached to the organization, work in silos, and are eager to clock out at the end of the day. Organization B on the other hand, proactively supports empathy between its employees and as a result, has a workforce that is happy to collaborate, enjoys coming into work, and is a source of new ideas and innovation. The employees enjoy a great rapport with the leadership and amongst each other, and are also willing brand ambassadors for the organization.
The massive value happy and connected employees can add to your business is very real, and it can be achieved only by developing the right kind of relationships right from the moment you source and hire your people.
As a leader, what are the three character traits you can adopt and promote to build better relationships at your workplace?
Respect Your People:
When asked “What is the most damaging behavior for relationships at work?” the majority of participants in a Byte survey cited “lack of respect”. Employees need to feel valued and admired as individuals while also being considered and appreciated as worthy contributors to the success of the company.
Regardless of their position in the hierarchy, no reason allows disrespect or disdain for an employee. Likewise, if an employee has shortcomings or fails to complete a task, then coaching should be conveyed in a manner that doesn’t damage the employee’s self-worth and should be delivered after validating their well-being.
Remember, criticism is best delivered in private, and praise in public.
Instead, try implementing a peer-to-peer management approach that allows your people to be themselves and avoid micromanagement. Any employee regardless of their position in the hierarchy should feel elevated and welcome to walk up to you and discuss their challenges and opportunities .
Once the management adopts this approach, the rest of the organization will follow. Creating an environment of mutual respect will resolve people-issues and break down silos while enabling them to appreciate and value diversity and experience different cultures.
Successful relationships, whether personal or professional, are built on the premise of effective listening and paying attention to what’s not being said. According to surveys, over 33% of professionals agree that adopting an open communication policy is the most important initiative their leadership may adopt to improve its relationship with employees.
Listening is a byproduct of open communication. Adopt a curiosity driven open-door policy to welcome feedback and input from employees, pay close attention to your employees’ changing needs and goals, and continuously keep your team aware of new occurrences and events taking place in the company.
Remember, to be an effective leader you must learn to listen effectively.
Trust Your Tribe:
Trust between leaders and their people is one of the most damaging factors when it comes to management-employee relationships. A place where employees aren’t trusted is a place where they will be defensive and micromanaged. This will keep them from being passionate and achieving their full potential, demoralize them and sap their loyalty to the team and company.
Encourage initiative and participation. A healthy employee-manager relationship gives space for contribution and creativity and allows the employee’s self-esteem and passion to grow.
Remember, as a leader one of your most important duties is to care for those who personally execute every campaign and every program taking place across the organization. You can do this by elevating and equipping your people with the right tools and knowledge, and allowing them to lead while being available to offer recommendations, coaching, and support.