The importance of developing strong, positive relationships within a company cannot be understated. These relationships, between management/ownership and employees, are a major factor in the company’s productivity, efficiency, and employee loyalty. If your employees feel that they are a respected part of the team they tend to be ready and willing to go the extra mile. In this post, I will discuss tips for fostering healthy working relationships within your organization.
Give Credit Where It’s Due: Taking the time to properly recognize your employees for a job-well-done is a major boost to motivation. When your employees successfully complete a task, it’s your responsibility to let them know that they’ve done well and that their contributions are seen and appreciated. Doing this will show them that you care and that they aren’t just a number falling unnoticed in the background.
Ask for Input and Suggestions: When you’re making a decision, why not collect the thoughts of others? Your employees have their own ideas and opinions and would love an opportunity to throw them out there. You won’t be able to implement everyone’s ideas, and in some cases you may not implement any, but including them in the process benefits the company (by hearing ideas that otherwise may not have come up) and the employee, who now feels like they’re playing a more serious role in what’s happening.
Consider Other Styles of Leadership: In the point above I discussed what’s known as the ‘participative’ style of leadership – you introduce an open floor and gather ideas from your subordinates before making a decision. As each situation is different, it’s important to keep other styles in mind. In an authoritative style, you direct your employees to complete a specific task in a particular way without discussion (this is usually what happens). This can be useful in a crisis, when there simply isn’t time to open the floor, etc. The other applicable style is known as delegative – when you pass decision-making authority along to an employee and put them in charge of the operation. Delegative leadership can have a really positive effect on an employee: It allows them to develop their own leadership and management abilities, gives them a personal stake in the success of the project, and frees you up to handle other matters. If used properly, this can be a highly effective style.
Think Before you Speak: Positive messages should always be delivered in public. If you’re about to commend an employee for exceptional performance, do it in front of everyone. If you’re about to discuss negative performance, however, it should always be done in private. Never speak ill of an employee either publicly or privately. If your criticism is non-constructive, don’t voice it – it will only prove to be destructive to your work environment.
Remember that it’s not what you say, but how you say it: The tone of your voice is often far more effective in conveying your message than the words you’re using; it has the power to be a positive tool or a very negative one, so stay mindful of how you speak. Be aware of your nonverbal communication as well by maintaining eye contact and controlling your posture, movement, and facial expressions.
Keep Promises or Don’t Make Them: If you are not 100% certain that you can keep a promise, don’t make it. Take one look at politics and you’ll see why. Candidates make promises to get into office and later fail to keep them, lowering popularity and trust significantly. It is far better to show results and make things happen – no promises required.
Employees are People: No one is perfect – no one. Employees are going to make mistakes just like you and me. Remember, also, that they have families, friends, relationships, and a ton of other obligations outside of work and they will have other things that they need to attend to. Employers often make the mistake of expecting their employees to place work as their number one priority, but this is not realistic. If you refuse to recognize that other facets of their lives exist, you’ll ultimately push them away, establish a poor reputation, and create a hostile, unproductive environment.
Keep an Open Door Policy: Discussion is key. Let your employees know that you have an open door policy (and mean it!) and that they are welcome to come to you anytime for advice or to voice questions, concerns, comments, and feedback. Make it clear that their thoughts are valuable to you and the company. You’ll be surprised at how helpful this can be.
At the end of the day there is no secret to establishing a positive relationship between you and your employees – simply treat others how you would like to be treated. Remember that effective leadership takes practice and mindfulness. If you make a mistake, own up to it, learn from it, and move on. Keep your employees involved, let them know that you appreciate them, and don’t be afraid to establish lines of communication. They are human beings and deserve respect and, if you treat them as such, you’ll find enhanced productivity, motivation, and loyalty… plus you’ll be a better person!