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  5 ways to build better relationships with your employees


Listening is a key fundamental block in communication. The act of listening encompasses many things and has several components. Not only are we using our ears to listen, but our body language tells a story as well. That’s why skills like active listening are so important. That means when you are have a meeting with your employee, your attention and focus needs to be centered around them. That means that emails should be closed, phones should be set aside and if possible, laptops closed. This lets your employee know that you are fully engaged in the interaction and that what they have to share with you matters. Giving eyes contact and open body language (no arms folded or speaking to them while you are turned in a different direction) is significant as well. You would be surprised at how making these subtle changes when you interact with your employee will change the dynamic of your relationship. But if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. Most of our lives, one of the things would often fight for was a chance to be heard. Think about when someone really took the time to listen to you and how that changed the way you thought about them. Now give your employee that same opportunity and see how your relationship blossoms and grows in trust, confidence, and respect.

Praise more than you correct

As a leader, I believe it is always important to have a posture of praise. When your employees are doing something right. Let them know. Think about it. If nearly every interaction, they have with you is one where you are correcting about sometime, how do you think that will impact your relationship? Have you ever had a leader at a job where, every time you saw them, they mentioned something you needed to correct or make right. How did or would that make you feel? You probably would begin dodging them and when you see them in the office, turn and go the other direction. Don’t get me wrong, I understand correction is a part of development and guidance with your employee and is a necessary part of their skill building and growth, but with no reinforcement of the positive things that they do and the “good” work they submit, how will you ever get them to view you as anything, but a collection of bad news stories, that never has a light at the end of the tunnel. So, balance your feedback. Give as much praise as you do correction and see how that changes the way your employees view interactions with you in the future.

Invest in their development

We have to view our employees as more than a set of people who are assigned to do their designated task and our biddings in exchange for a salary. They are much more that that. Our employees are people with dreams, goals, and aspirations just like us. So, why are we not fully investing in their success beyond them being our direct report on our team? If you are not already making efforts to fully develop your employees on your team for beyond the role that they are currently in now, then you need to ask yourself why. Here is the reality, gone are the days where people spend 30 or 40 years at the same company, and spent years and years in the same roles. The work culture and structure has changed. People now have interest in many different things and take more chances to explore them then employees of the past. So how do we provide divine contentment to an ever evolving workforce? You do it by evolving and moving with them. Instead of giving pushback or discouragement when an employee has interest beyond their current role and that they currently are in, you should embrace it. Encourage those interest. Your support will build trust and confidence with them in you as a leader. Not to mention, the additional skills that they are acquiring will likely only enhance their ability to support your team. It’s Essentially a win or everyone.

Get in the trenches

One of the most important character traits I look for in a leader is their ability to “Get in the trenches” with the team. Will the leader roll up their sleeves and dive in if we are short staffed, overwhelmed, or meeting a critical deadline? Here’s the reality, I am very hesitant to fully embrace and get behind a leader who will assign me something that they would not do. Think about it. If you’ve ever worked fast food you know that a restaurant manager’s job is hectic. Because essentially the success of the day ultimately seems to fall on them. If everything goes smooth for the day. They get praised. If everything falls apart, they usually get reprimanded. So, they understand the idea that wherever there is a gap, for the sake of the restaurant doing well that day, they may have to fill in. So, if the fry cook calls out. They have to make fries. If the head cashier is late, they may have to fill in until they get there. The fact is, it is understood by the restaurant manager that he has to do whatever it takes to make the restaurant successful. I believe every leader should adopt the same philosophy. If there is a gap, as leaders we have to fill it for the benefit of the team. Now that does not mean you can do the job that your employee does better , because let’s face it they are likely a subject matter expert at what they do, but I believe it’s about effort, and even if you were not able to physically fill in to resolve a shortage on your team, did you put in the work to get the help they needed, so that the disruption resulted in minimum impact to the team. Being in the fight with them in whatever capacities when there is crisis can play a critical part in the way your team will view you. So, remember to be present in crisis, and not just as the person holding the mic, but as a person that will do whatever they can make it things right and to get even thing and everyone back on track.

Genuinely Care

Ever heard the saying “People won’t care until they know you do” This is so true. When your employees feel that you genuinely care about them, it will show up in their work. When they believe that you care, your strengthens as a leader (things like character, compassion, servanthood) will shine through to them. They will no longer look at you as just the person who assigns task to them, but more like a supportive guide. Someone they can count on, admire, and emulate. All of this from just taking the time to care. How do you show that you care? By doing some of the concepts we already talked about. Show your care and concern for your employees by listening, giving consistent praise, investing in their development, and being willing to help them solve complex issues. You can also show genuine care by getting to know your employees personally. This doesn’t mean you have to start having brunch together every Saturday, but it does mean you get to know things like their family dynamic (kids, significant others), their hobbies, goals and aspirations. Just taking an interest in those things can really change the dynamic of your relationship and make them see you as more than just a “Boss”, but a human being too.

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