Too many people reach a leadership position and decide to focus only on building relationships with those people up the ladder or on the same rung as them. They seem to think that their new authority level means they no longer need to spend time on the “underlings.” Doing so is an enormous misstep and one that could ultimately destroy any chances of their employees’ and their success.
Don’t make that mistake.
Having strong relationships with employees builds trust between you and them, and trust improves everything from productivity and efficiency to quality and customer service. In fact, as a leader, one of the most important things you can do is foster deep, meaningful relationships with your direct reports. To do so, follow these six rules:
Be sincere and consistent
If you don’t see the inherent value in fostering relationships with employees, don’t fake it. It’s important that you consistently work on nurturing those relationships, and if your heart isn’t in it, you’ll just come across as insincere or, worse, dishonest. That will get you nowhere. I might ask though: If you don’t care about connecting with your staff, why are leading them in the first place? Be authentic, no matter what.
Make relationship-building a priority
I know you are busy. I know you have plenty to do. I know that unless there is a major problem or conflict, managing relationships won’t just show up as an urgent item on your to-do list. However, if maintaining strong relationships is important to you (and it should be), you must spend time and energy doing so. It really is that simple. Block out time on your calendar each day to focus on connecting with people.
Care a whole bunch
You have to sincerely care about people, their thoughts and feelings, and their well being. It is often said (and I’ve seen the quote attributed to different people) “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” Your professional expertise and knowledge matters, of course, but there’s more to leading than that. Let employees know how much you care about them as people and that you see them as more than just cogs in the wheel. If you really don’t care, you need to think long and hard about why that is true. Perhaps this leadership thing isn’t for you.
Be honest: How often do you truly expect the best from others? How often do you fully trust your people to do their jobs well? And how often do you tell them that you have faith in them? People tend to live up to the expectations others have for them, so look for opportunities to show employees that you have 100% faith in their capabilities. Will you occasionally be disappointed? Possibly. But in most cases, employees will pleasantly surprise you and either meet or exceed your expectations. Plus, the more you trust them, the more they will trust you.
Listen without judgment
Think about any one of your employees. That person is likely aching for you to listen to him or her. Don’t you ever feel that way, ya know, where you just want someone to really listen to you? And how do you feel about another person when he or she actually hears what you have to say? It feels good, right? You feel a stronger connection to the person. You gain trust and respect for the person. Really, truly listening to your employees is one of the greatest gifts you can give them (and a surefire way to deepen your relationships with them).
Take the lead
If you want to nurture relationships in whatever way you choose, make the first move. Relationships won’t grow unless someone takes action, so take the first step. Ask the first question. Strike up a conversation. Offer the olive branch. Make the apology. You get the idea. Take personal responsibility for the quality and health of your relationships with employees, starting today. You will not regret it. The time you spend will benefit you, your team and your organization.
How do you build relationships with new employees or nurture your relationships with current staff? Share your tips in the comments section.
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